Mary J. Blige To Portray Legendary Singer Nina Simone In Film

Part will be singer's first starring role in a film.

Mary J. Blige is set to star in an as-yet-untitled biopic that will focus on the rise of late, legendary jazz/soul singer Nina Simone. It will be the singer's first starring role in a film (she made her big-screen debut alongside Q-Tip and Fat Joe in 2001's "Prison Song").

The film, an MTV Films/ Paramount Pictures project, will also take a look at Simone's relationship with Paris-based manager Clifton Henderson. Simone's eclectic career took off during the 1960s, and the singer was renowned for her powerful jazz ballads and protest songs, including "Mississippi Goddam" and "To Be Young, Gifted, and Black" — the latter, subsequently covered by Aretha Franklin and many others, served as an anthem for the civil rights movement. Simone essentially retired in the mid-1970s and eventually moved to France, where she died in 2003.

The film will be produced by Interscope Records Chairman Jimmy Iovine along with Lauren Lloyd, Gene Kirkwood and Eminem's manager, Paul Rosenberg. A director has not been named, but the screenplay will be penned by television writer Cynthia Mort ("Will & Grace," "Roseanne").

In the meantime, Blige's seventh studio full-length, The Breakthrough, is set to hit stores on December 20 (see "Mary J. Blige's Breakthrough Is Coming Out This Year After All").

For a full-length feature where Mary J. Blige takes an intimate look at her career, see "Throwback With Mary J. Blige."

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