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'Star Trek' Actress Zoe Saldana to Play Nina Simone in Biopic

David Oyelowo also tapped to play manger Clifton Henderson

Zoe Saldana and Nina Simone
Ray Tamarra/Getty Images/ John Minihan/Evening Standard/Getty Images
August 16, 2012 1:35 PM ET

Actress Zoe Saldana is set to play Nina Simone in the long in-the-works biopic about the beloved singer, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Nina will start production in Los Angeles on October 16th after various delays, including the departure of Mary J. Blige, who had been slated to portray Simone before moving on because of funding issues. The film was written by Cynthia Mort, who remains attached to direct.

Saldana has appeared in Star Trek and Avatar, and recently finished filming Out of the Furnace with Christian Bale and Casey Affleck. She's joined in Nina by David Oyelowo (The Last King of Scotland, The Help), who will play Simone's manager Clifton Henderson. 

Born in 1933, Simone began singing in church as a young girl, teaching herself to play piano and organ by age seven. In 1959 she scored her only charting pop single, a version of George Gershwin's "I Loves You Porgy," from Porgy and Bess; she remained active in music and the Civil Rights movement during the Sixties, though tax issues forced her to move out of the United States the following decade. Simone died in France in 2003.

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