RLJ Entertainment Founder Robert L. Johnson Issues Statement in Response to 'Nina' Controversy
Photo Credit: S & A

RLJ Entertainment Founder Robert L. Johnson Issues Statement in Response to 'Nina' Controversy

NINAUPDATE 3/3/2016: Given the heavy and wide criticism the upcoming film has faced since the trailer debuted yesterday, the Founder and Chairman of RLJ Entertainment (the company distributing the film), Robert L. Johnson (also the founder of BET), has issued a public statement in response, which reads:  “Zoe Saldana delivers an exceptional and mesmerizing tribute to Nina Simone. She gave her heart and soul to the role and displayed her extraordinary talent. The most important thing is that creativity or quality of performance should never be judged on the basis of color, or ethnicity, or physical likeness. Quality entertainment should be measured by the sheer force of creativity and the commitment that an actor or actress brings to the performance. We are proud to distribute the film headlined by Zoe Saldana and David Oyelowo on April 22, 2016.” 

I doubt that this will do anything to calm troubled waters, but I think a response from Johnson was inevitable. By most accounts, reactions have been strongly negative since yesterday’s trailer debut (not surprisingly), with some criticizing RLJ Entertainment for even wanting to release the film. So he had to say something in support of his decision to distribute the film. 

If anything, all this controversy may actually help fuel interest in the film, if only because some may want to watch it just to see whether it’s as advertised by Johnson, or if it’s as bad as they expect it to be. Sort of like rubbernecking I suppose. Controversy does often sell tickets. Although let’s see if this one proves to be an exception.

All previous recent updates on the film (trailer, poster, release info) follow below.


UPDATE 3/2/2016: Following yesterday’s announcement that the film will finally be released in April, after 2 years of uncertainty… as I suspected would happen today, a trailer for the film is now online. Watch it below.


RLJ Entertainment has announced that "Nina" – the controversial Nina Simone film starring Zoe Saldana and David Oyelowo – will be released in theaters, VOD and Digital HD on April 22, 2016.

"Nina" is written and directed by Cynthia Mort.

Official synopsis: She was one of the century’s most extraordinary talents, a 15-time Grammy nominee and Grammy Hall of Fame Recipient; her mesmerizing songs and passionate politics combined to make her the unforgettable Nina Simone (Zoe Saldana). But fame and fortune came with a price, and her later years were riddled with depression, alcohol abuse and isolation. Rediscovering the meaning of her life and work took courage, strength and one true friend: Clifton Henderson (David Oyelowo), the man who started out as her assistant and eventually became her loyal manager. With Clifton’s encouragement, the "high priestess of soul" began a courageous journey back to her music … and, eventually, herself.

If you’d like to catch up on all the previous drama that has followed the film over the last couple of years, read my May 2015 piece which summarizes it all here.

Along with news of the film’s release, RLJ has also debuted the film’s first official poster, which is embedded above.

Trailer below.

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