Shadow & Act reports that Issa Rae, star and creator of the hit US comedy web series Awkward Black Girl, has been cast to play the legendary singer Nina Simone in an up and coming biopic based on the life of playwright Lorraine Hansberry.
Issa Rae is set to play Nina Simone, who was a close friend of Lorraine until her death.
And Jaleel White will play James Baldwin, Hansberry’s close friend and confidant.
Will Stewart (Casting Director for Scandal) is casting the project, with additional announcements to come.
Production is slated to begin in early fall, with the project now heading into the pre-production stage.
Living quite an involved life, Hansberry was the first black playwright and the youngest American to win a New York Critics’ Circle award. She’s likely most-known for her seminal play about a struggling black family in Chicago, A Raisin in the Sun (a line taken from a Langston Hughes poem).
It was the first play produced on Broadway by an African American woman. It opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on March 11, 1959, and was a great success.
Rae also co-host’s a new talk show called Exhale which airs on former basket ball star Magic Johnson’s cable network Aspire.
Rest in peace Nina Simone and Lorraine Hansberry.
Issa created and financed Awkward Black Girl without the backing of a major TV network and look how far she has come and the doors that are now opening for her.
I have said this before and I will say it again, creating and funding our own projects, and then utilizing online platforms is definitely the way forward.