“I’m a singer and an actress. I wouldn’t feel comfortable saying I’m an actress who sings or a singer who acts because I love them equally. And they both feed my soul and give me breathing room and make me feel alive when I’m doing both of them.” Nona Gaye
The daughter of late musician Marvin Gaye, Nona Gaye made her entrance in show business as a singer. She broke the charts with the single “I’m Overjoyed,” from the album Love for the Future (1992) and did collaborations with musician/actor Prince in “Love Sign” and “A Woman’s Gotta Have It” (featured in the compilation album 1-800-NEWFUNK, 1994).
The artist then branched out to modeling and acting. Gaye was seen as Belinda Boyd/ Khalilah Ali in Michael Mann’s biopic Ali (2001), where she won a Black Reel Award. Subsequently, she was applauded after taking the role of Zee in The Matrix’ sequels, The Matrix Reloaded (2003) and The Matrix Revolutions (2003), as well as Karen in Paul Haggis’ Crash (2004).
One of People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People” (1993) once had a drug problem when she was a teenager. In 1996, she had a failed suicide attempt, which led to her rehab. On a more private note, the ex-partner of Prince (1992-1995) has a son from her relationship with Justin Martinez.
Childhood and Family:
Nona Marvisa Gaye was born on September 4, 1974, in Washington, D.C., to soul musician Marvin Gaye (born on April 2, 1939, died on April 1, 1984, shot by his father) and actress/musician Janis Hunter (born January 5, 1956). Nona is the granddaughter of jazz musician Slim Gaillard (born on January 4, 1911, died on February 26, 1991) and the niece of musician Frankie Gaye (born on November 15,1941, died on December 28, 2001 of heart attack complications). In February 1981, her parents separated.
Six-year old Pie (Nona’s nickname) appeared in the TV show “Soul Train” to introduce her father’s performance. The Irish, Greek, and Afro-Cuban girl then followed in her parents’ footsteps in music, and later tried modeling and acting.
After having a three-year relationship with actor/director/musician Prince (born on June 7, 1958, dated 1992-1995), Nona was romantically involved with Justin Martinez. From the relationship, she gave birth to a son named Nolan Pentz Gaye, in June 1997.
“Music is something I’ve always done, that’s always been in my heart and I feel unnatural when I’m not doing it.”
After making her first demo tape at age 14, Nona Gaye penned a recording deal with Atlantic Records and released her debut album, Love for the Future, in 1992. Offering neat, catchy and upbeat music, the album generated the lead single “I’m Overjoyed,” which peaked at No.17 on the R&B charts, and “The Things That We All Do For Love.”
Besides launching her musical career, Gaye also gave modeling a shot. Her involvement in the Ford Modeling Agency soon brought in the offer to appear on Armani commercials and walk on runways for Gianni Versace. Later, in 2002, Gaye modeled for GAP.
Gaye also worked on a couple of songs with Prince, such as the duet “1000 Hugs and Kisses” and the solo track “Snowman.” In addition, she sang a duet in “Love Sign” and performed solo in “A Woman’s Gotta Have It” (both were featured in the compilation album 1-800-NEWFUNK, 1994) and provided background vocals in “We March,” a song on Prince’s album The Gold Experience (1995). Six years later, the singer teamed up with other artists on the All Star Tribute and covered her father’s “What’s Going On” (2001) for a benefit for AIDS research.
Gaye, who previously appeared as the patron in the drama comedy Harlem Nights (1989), signed to the William Morris Agency, which suggested she join movie auditions. She soon won the role of Belinda Boyd/ Khalilah Ali, the second wife of boxer Muhammad Ali, in the Michael Mann-directed biopic Ali (2001). For her performance, the newcomer was handed a Black Reel award in Theatrical for Best Supporting Actress. Working on the movie soundtrack, Gaye then composed “Music” for the mob comedy What’s the Worst That Could Happen (2001).
Gaye replaced the late Aaliyah to play Zee in the Matrix sequels, The Matrix Reloaded (2003) and The Matrix Revolutions (2003, received an Image nomination for Best Supporting Actress) before earning a Gotham award nomination for her fine turn as Karen in Paul Haggis’ directorial debut, Crash (2004). The same year, she lent her voice for the animated movie The Polar Express (2004), directed by Robert Zemeckis.
In 2005, Gaye was cast as Lola Jackson in Lee Tamahori’s sequel xXx: State of the Union. Acquiring a more prominent role, the actress costarred as Charlene Taylor Frank, alongside Boris Kodjoe and Idris Elba, in the musical drama The Gospel (2005).
- Black Reel: Theatrical - Best Supporting Actress, Ali, 2002