Mary J. Blige To Star In Nina Simone Biopic

Film focuses on Simone's relationship later in life with her assistant.

Fresh off her role in Tyler Perry's "I Can Do Bad All by Myself," Mary J. Blige has signed on to play legendary crooner Nina Simone in a biopic of her life.

According to Variety, the film — currently titled "Nina" — focuses on Simone's relationship later in life with her assistant Clifton Henderson, who will be played by David Oyelowo ("The Last King of Scotland").

Although this will be the first major leading role for the Grammy winner, Blige has been flexing her acting muscles since 1998, when she played Ola Mae on "The Jamie Foxx Show." Since that appearance, Blige has guest-starred in episodes of "The Ghost Whisperer" and "Strong Medicine," and her other film credits include "Prison" and "Angel: One More Road to Cross."

Musically, Blige is a fitting choice to play Simone, who was known as "The High Priestess of Soul." She certainly has the chops to take on the singer/songwriter's sultry lower register on jazzy songs like "My Baby Just Cares for Me" and "I Put a Spell on You."

If the film does stay focused on the storied singer's later life, it will be interesting to see how far the filmmakers delve into Simone's emotional and mental struggles with multiple-personality disorder and schizophrenia.

"Nina" is set to begin shooting in September in France. The script is penned and directed by Cynthia Mort, who wrote "The Brave One."

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