25 May 2023

Tina Turner was one of a kind, says producer of documentary about her life

25 May 2023

Tina Turner was “one of a kind” and “one of the iconic musical performers of all time”, according to the producer of a documentary about her life.

Simon Chinn, co-founder of production company Lightbox, worked closely with the late Proud Mary singer on the 2021 film Tina.

Turner, who died on Wednesday at 83, had previously said she did not want to see the resulting HBO documentary but later changed her mind and Chinn recalled a conversation he had with her on Zoom after she watched it.


He told the PA news agency: “She came on and she was just beaming from ear to ear.

“Not every aspect of the film was entirely comfortable for her but she was just totally thrilled with what we’ve done and recognised the craft of it, and recognised hopefully the kind of depth and the extent that we’d gone through to do full justice to her story and she was just incredibly generous.

“I’ve never had an easier experience with a subject of a documentary, and when you think about who this subject was, the idea that she would be that trusting, that generous to us, never second guessing us, never questioning what we were doing, is sort of extraordinary to me now. But it very much kind of epitomises who she was.”

The documentary went on to be nominated for three Emmys.

Chinn said he feels “incredibly privileged” to have crafted one of the defining documents on Turner’s life story, adding: “I felt it at the time.

“I also probably had a glimpse at that moment that Tina was not, in fact, immortal. And she was going to pass at some point, and that this would probably be not just the first, but also the last, piece of its kind.

“To make a film that tells a well-known story, but frames it in a different way. It’s Tina finally in the twilight of her life, coming to a reluctant acceptance that she can’t separate herself from her narrative, which is what she tried to do.

“That’s why she wrote the book [her autobiography I, Tina]. That’s why she made the movie with Disney [What’s Love Got to Do with It, based on the book], she did all those things because she believed, maybe naively, that in telling her story, she’d be able to sort of leave it behind.

“I think what she kind of came to realise and came to accept is she was an amazing, transcendent performer but actually, the connection she had with her audience, with her fans, was as much to do with her story as her music ultimately.

“And that she is not just the queen of rock and roll, but the great survivor, and the kind of full arc of her life and her life story is incredibly inspirational to people.”

Reflecting on her legacy, Chinn said: “It’s extraordinary, particularly given what we know about what she suffered at the hands of Ike [Turner, her abusive husband] and the background that she came from, she came from incredibly humble origins.

“To go on that journey to be remembered as one of the iconic musical performers of all time. She transformed rock music and was pioneering as one of the first black female rock performers ever. I think it’s amazing, an amazing legacy and to do all that with such grace and humility, she’s one of a kind.”

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