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Winnie Mandela Protests Biopic Starring Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson may be excited about her upcoming title role as Winnie Mandela in the biopic ‘Winnie,’ but the former wife of South African anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela isn’t.

According to the Johannesburg’s Star Newspaper, a letter from Mandela’s attorneys states the noted South African figure is “extremely concerned” to hear about the film and says she was never approached for consent. “It is difficult to understand how a production bearing the name of an individual who has not been consulted at all,” the letter read, “could ever be appropriate or tell the full story of that individual’s life as media reports suggest this production is intended to.”

Winnie Mandela has been involved in a number of scandals since her divorce from Nelson Mandela in 1996. The film is likely to reveal allegations she was tied to the kidnapping and murder of a political activist and convicted of fraud in 2003. With that being said, it comes as no surprise that Winnie Mandela, who now goes by the name Ms. Madikizela-Mandela, may be opposed to having her story brought to life.

The films’ producers, however, rebuffed with their own statement. “The position of the producers is that if a screenplay has to be approved by Ms. Madikizela-Mandela, then the film based on that screenplay could possibly be jeopardised as the world may question the credibility of the film.” They also specified that they were not legally obliged to have Mandela’s consent in order to move forward with the film.

While her disapproval has grabbed headlines, this is not the first time that ‘Winnie’ has been the center of controversy. Last year local South African actors where outraged after learning that Hudson had been tapped for the role. The actors complained that South African talent had again been overlooked by Hollywood.

The film, based on the independent biography ‘Winnie Mandela: A Life’ by Anne Marie du Preez Bezdrob, is scheduled to start shooting in May.

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