Nona Gaye, co-star of the "xXx: State Of The Union" Movie!
The daughter of a legendary music icon, Marvin Gaye, Nona found her niche in the entertainment business with apperances in 2003's "Matrix Revolutions" and "Matrix Reloaded" and 2004's Polar Express." Nona made her film debut in the 2001 movie "Ali", playing Muhammad Ali's second wife, "Belinda." It was inevitable that Nona Gaye would become a singer - she is the granddaughter of Cuban jazz great Slim Gaillard, the niece of R&B singer/songwriter Frankie Gaye and the daughter of soul legend Marvin Gaye. Signed to Third/Stone Atlantic at 14, Nona released "Love for the Future" in 1992, which included the top 20 hit "I'm Overjoyed". But it was acting that give Nona a name of her own. With no acting experience and her agents warning her not to get her hopes up, she won the role of Belinda Ali in "Ali" opposite Academy Award-nominee Will Smith. Nona went on to play Zee in the "Matrix" sequels, replacing singer Aaliyah after her sudden death in a plane crash. In 2004, Nona provided the voice for Hero Girl in "The Polar Express", which also starred Tom Hanks. Nona has plans to return to the music studio as well as the silver screen. "My music will always reflect upon my family's legacy or people's expectations," Nona told Interview Magazine in 2001. "But acting's all mine." Nona was born on September 4, 1974, in Washington, D.C., USA.
More fun stuff about Nona Gaye
Height 5' 10½" (1.79 m)
Daughter of Marvin Gaye
Has a son, Nolan (b.1997)
April 11th, 2002: It has been announced that she will be replacing the late Aaliyah as the role of "Zee" in the Matrix sequels
Sung in the All Star Tribute for various charities and September 11th: The record was a cover version of a father's hit "What's Going On".
Niece of Frankie Gaye.
Aaliyah re-recorded Marvin Gaye's 1977 hit, "Got To Give It Up", on her 1996 album titled One In A Million. Now Nona, daughter of Marvin, is starring in the role of "Zee" in both of the new Matrix movies coming out in 2003 which was originally written for Aaliyah before her untimely passing in 2001.
Granddaughter of the late Cuban jazz great Slim Gaillard
She was briefly an in-law to the famous Jackson family. When she was born, her father Marvin was still married to his first wife, Anna Gordy. Anna was the sister of Motown founder Berry Gordy, who was the father-in-law of Jackson Five brother Jermaine.
Goddaughter of funk legend Rick James
For three years, has both worked with and dated musician Prince. During this time, she recorded four songs with him: "1000 Hugs and Kisses" (duet), "Snowman" (solo recording), "We March" (background vocals), "Love Sign" (duet), and the title track to the "Girl 6" soundtrack (background vocals).
Had a #17 R&B hit with "I'm Overjoyed" in 1992 of her debut album, "Love for the Future".
Quote: "There are plenty of people who'd like me to carry my father's torch. But all I can do is do my best to represent his name and legacy and hope he'd be proud of me."
She was only going to get her feet wet--at least that's what her agent told her. But Nona Gaye landed the part, which happened to be a starring role in the Oscar-nominated biopic Ali.
"I'd never really acted before and didn't have any real training," she admits. "I was watching Will Smith and Jon Voight, these veterans, and it took them telling me, 'You wouldn't be here if you didn't have the juice' for me to relax."
This 28-year-old has juice to spare. The daughter of the late R&B legend Marvin Gaye, Nona's first passion is actually music. "I can go from one to the other and do them both and feel right at home," she says. "They both feed my soul."
Gaye will follow up her debut performance by starring as the warrior Zee in the next two installments of the Matrix trilogy. Not at liberty to say, well, anything about the highly anticipated film, Gaye notes that she's only tight-lipped for self-protection. "The brothers made me sign my name in blood." And she certainly shed her share on the set while performing her own stunts. "I had lots of cuts and bruises every day. It came out looking realistic because I really was hurt."
Luckily, Gaye's tight-knit family followed her down under to help her along with filming. "I would go back to the hotel and my mother would run a bath and just sort of coddle me. I'm very serious when I say I don't know what I would do without her."
This multi-talented hyphenate is currently at work recording a disk that is due out later this year. She describes the effort as "something you want to put on when you want to feel good."
After that, Gaye will be shooting The Polar Express with Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis. Despite having a few high-profile roles under her belt, she is still in disbelief over working with Hanks. "When they offered me the role, I couldn't believe they were serious. I walked out of the meeting doing buffalo kicks and backflips. It was wonderful."
Nona Gaye Finds the Child Within in "The Polar Express"
Nona Gaye ("Ali" and the second and third "Matrix" movies) brings to life the character of Hero Girl in the film version of Chris Van Allsburg's book, "The Polar Express." For those who aren't familiar with Van Allsburg's story, Hero Girl's a strong, intelligent youngster who discovers her leadership abilities while aboard The Polar Express.
When casting the role of Hero Girl, "The Polar Express" filmmakers had the benefit of not having to choose an actress based upon her age. Because of the new technology employed in creating "The Polar Express," it was just as easy for an adult to take on the role of the story's main female character. Without the age limitation, writer/director Robert Zemeckis turned to Image Award nominee Nona Gaye to become his Hero Girl.
"Nona was absolutely wonderful. Her ability to understand the character and present it in a way that is so charming and endearing was exactly what we needed," proclaimed Zemeckis.
INTERVIEW WITH NONA GAYE ('Hero Girl'):
Can you talk about the physical process of getting into the performance capture suit?
It wasn’t too bad. We got used to it. There’s Velcro involved, and there’s Spandex involved. Going to the bathroom is a bit of an issue. Because your glove gets stuck here [indicating her shoulder], and [other parts] get stuck together. Me and Tom [Hanks] would complain about that kind of stuff. But other than that, it wasn’t that bad.
All the actors had dozens of markers on their faces capturing their movements. Did that change your performance?
No. No, once they’re on, they are stuck on there. If something falls, they immediately replace a marker. We have so many markers on our face that it actually settles in and starts to feel like your own face. And there are so many that they are able to capture every single nuance of every expression that we give, so it’s us. It’s really our performance.
Did it make you self-conscious of your movements? Did you think about smiling or frowning or other facial expressions more than you normally would?
Nope, because Bob [Zemeckis] does that. Bob makes sure whether or not you’re smiling too much.
It was so great because I had never been in this situation. Mr. Zemeckis was sitting over in the corner with no camera in front of him, just watching. We’re in this room like half the size of [“The Polar Express” premiere area at Grauman’s] and it’s just like, “Wow, nothing has ever been done like this before.”
Is it more like acting on stage?
Yes. I was just about to say it’s like black box acting. It is, yeah.
When you were working opposite Tom Hanks and you're both playing kids, did that change the dynamic between the two of you?
You know what? Yes. I would watch him go from The Conductor to Hero Boy, and it’s so funny because I would watch him as The Conductor and I would become afraid. I would become a child and I would be like, “Oh no, he’s The Conductor.” Then he would become Hero Boy again and it’d be like, “Oh, he’s my friend again.” So we really did turn into children on that set. We really did. We had a lot of fun. We were jumping around on trampolines and playing Ding Dong Ditch on people’s trailers. It was silly (laughing).
Meet Nona Gaye
Introducing Marvin Gaye's greatest production. The actress and singer—now twenty-seven—caught our eye in Ali as the champ's second wife, Belinda. We decided to play Howard Cosell and ask her some questions. —Carter Harris
ESQ: Where'd the name Nona Aisha Gaye come from?
NG: Aisha's not really my middle name. I thought it was until I was about twelve. But one day we're driving in the car and my mom's like, Honey, Aisha's not your middle name. It's Marvisa. And I'm like, It's what? I guess my dad wanted me to have a piece of his name, and I like that, but I don't care for the name itself.
ESQ: What do you remember of your father?
NG: When he was sober, my father was the nicest, happiest, most decent man with the strongest life force you'd ever want to meet. I only had him for nine years, and I remember that. I think that if my father had healthier people around him—this might be a pipe dream, no pun intended—I think he would have gone into treatment, that he and my mother may have reconciled, and that he could have come to my movie premiere.
ESQ: Given that the relationship between your mom, Jan Gaye, and your dad was tumultuous, have you tried to steer clear of famous men?
NG: You cannot help who you fall in love with. I've dated famous men.
NG: I thought you knew one of 'em. . . . I dated Prince.
ESQ: Do you want to tell me about that?
NG: Not really. I was seventeen, eighteen. It was very strange, a whirlwind of head trips and mind screws. Three years I dated him and didn't know him and really never let him know me, either. But that was a long time ago, and I wish him well. I have nothing but forgiving and warm feelings to send his way.
Nona Gaye as Zee
A native of Washington D.C., NONA GAYE is best known for her acclaimed performance opposite Will Smith as Belinda, Muhammad Ali’s second wife in Michael Mann’s Ali.
Gaye appeared on stage for the first time when she was three weeks old with her father, soul legend Marvin Gaye. At six years old her father announced on Soul Train, “She sings quite well.” She was 14 years old when she cut her first demo and was signed to Atlantic Records at 16. In 1992 she released her first album, Love for the Future, which received high praise from the music industry.
She added modeling to her career, shooting a campaign for Armani and walking the runway for Gianni Versace. In 2001 she returned to the recording studio, collaborating with Bono & Artists Against Aids Worldwide re-recording “What’s Going On” as a call to stop the spread of AIDS in Africa.
After taking time to raise her son, Nolan, Gaye began to pursue her dream of becoming an actress. Her first audition was for Ali. The result was her feature film debut, rave reviews, and a call from USA Today for a supporting actress Oscar nomination.
Gaye will reprise her role as Zee in The Matrix Revolutions, which will be released November 5, 2003.
She is currently in production on The Polar Express in which she stars opposite Tom Hanks for director Robert Zemeckis.