Issa Rae set to play Nina Simone in Lorraine Hansberry biopic

An upcoming biopic of A Raisin in the Sun author Lorraine Hansberry is in the pre-production stage and is slated to begin shooting in early fall.

Up-and-coming actress and film director Issa Rae is set to play Nina Simone in the movie, who was a close personal friend of Hansberry until her death. Rae is the creator of the YouTube comedy series “Awkward Black Girl” where she also plays the main character.

The production, which has yet to receive an official title, will star Hansberry’s grand-niece Taye Hansberry in the leading role. Shadow and Act reports that the script will be written and directed by Numa Perrier. It is not yet known if the film will be produced for television or movie theaters.

Rae is not the only actress to be cast as Simone this year.

In another upcoming big screen film, Nina, centered on Nina Simone, actress Zoe Saldana is set to play the late singer and activist.

The producers of that project have received widespread criticism over the casting of Saldana, because of her lack of resemblance to the legendary soul singer. Director and writer Cynthia Mort is not offended by the backlash and stands by the decision to cast Saldana play the role.

In an interview with theGrio, Mort speaks of Saldana saying, “I think Zoe embodies a lot of the characteristics [that] I was looking for. She’s compelling and she’s fierce and she’s strong and she pulls us in the way Nina’s music pulls us in. You know what? That’s hard to come by.”