Nina Simone, David Oyelowo, Zoe Saldana, film, straight-washing, gay, Clifton Henderson

Ugh. The Nina Simone Biopic Turned Her Gay Manager Straight

“Clifton Henderson was gay. He was not attracted to women. So, the truth is… Nina Simone and Clifton Henderson NEVER had a relationship other than a business one. Please correct me, but isn’t a biopic the story of one’s life? …

For all she endured while here and all of the lives she has touched, she DESERVES to be remembered for who she truly was; not some made up love story from a former nurse/manager (now deceased) who sold his life rights because of his relationship to Nina Simone.”

Nina Simone’s daughter Lisa Celeste Stroud (aka stage performer Simone) speaking out about the soon-t0-be-released biopic on her mother’s life in which her mother’s openly gay manager Clifton Henderson is portrayed as Simone’s heterosexual love interest; actor David Oyelowo will play Henderson in the film. 

The film, which comes out this April, has been criticized for casting a lighter-skinned actress (Zoe Saldana) in the lead role and has been called “ugly and inaccurate” by another Simone biographer who worries that the film will overlook Simone’s battles with civil rights and mental illness. 

Why we’re writing about this: We love music and film, and because straight-washing is a common occurence in new and old media, it’s important to point it out and discourage future film-makers from “taking the easy way out” by closeting our lives in mainstream media.