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Issa Rae to Play Nina Simone in Lorraine Hansberry Biopic

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Issa Rae stops by ESSENCE: Photo Michael Rowe
Issa Rae
Photo Credit: Michael Rowe

YouTube personality, actress and ESSENCE Festival "Surprize Your Dream: Reinvent Your Life & Your Business" speaker Issa Rae will play Nina Simone in the upcoming biopic about Lorraine Hansberry.

According to Shadow and Act, Hansberry's grandniece Taye Hansberry will star in the lead role. Hansberry and Simone were good friends during their lifetime. The writer's other good friend James Baldwin will be played by Jaleel White

Numa Perrier will write the script and direct the film. It's unclear if the film will be made for television or for the silver screen.

Hansberry, perhaps best known for writing A Raisin in the Son, died at age 34 of pancreatic cancer.

Rae's portrayal of Simone will undoubtedly be judged against Zoe Saldanda's portrayal of the singer and activist in the upcoming biopic Nina.

Saldana responded to critics in February saying, "What keeps me focused and what kept me from getting stressed and hurt by the comments is [that] I'm doing this for my sisters," said Saldana. "I'm doing it for my brothers. I don't care who tells me I'm not this and that. I know who I am. I know what Nina Simone means to me. That is my truth and that is what set me free."

PHOTO GALLERY: 'Black Women in Hollywood' Photo Booth

  • Gabrielle Union poses for a portrait at the 2013 ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood Luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel in California.
  • Michael Ealy poses for a portrait at the 2013 ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood Luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel in California.
  • Quvenzhane Wallis poses for a portrait at the 2013 ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood Luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel in California.
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