Zoe Saldana has been asked by director Cynthia Mort to play the role of Nina Simone in the forthcoming film, “Nina.” And for months now, there’s been debate after debate about Saldana landing the role, despite the years Mary J. Blige took to prepare for it. Critics say Saldana doesn’t even look like Simone nor do they think she can carry the weight of such a complex character.
The criticisms don’t stop there. People against Saldana as Simone have gone as far as complaining about the color of her skin being a little too light. Even Nina’s daughter–who goes by the name, “Simone”–is against the “Colombiana” actress playing her mother in a film. “How does someone just decide to do a story about someone and completely bypass family?” Simone asked. In an interview with The Grio, Simone explained that she wanted Kimberly Elise in the role.
If you’ve been following this story, you’ll see that Elise wasn’t one of my suggestions for the role of Nina Simone, but there were five other women that would dominate that role–including accomplished actresses without Saldana’s star-studded career.
Nina’s daughter went on to say, “My mother was raised at a time when she was told her nose was too wide, her skin was too dark. Appearance-wise this is not the best choice.” Nina’s daughter Simone explained.
Playing Nina Simone could be one of the more definitive roles as far as biopics go–it’s not that Saldana a talented actress, but it’s hard to imagine there isn’t another Black actress out there who couldn’t evoke a better Nina. And yes, I believe someone with more melanin deserves to shine in this role. It’s obvious that Hollywood has their hands tied when it comes to casting major roles. Casting directors have to go with who’s hot at the moment to get the proper funding for the movie. And let’s face it–Zoe Saldana is hot!
Mary J. Blige was the soulful choice, not the popular one. You remember the crispy chicken commercial, don’t you? (We wonder if that commercial faux pas may have cost Blige this role, just saying.)
And despite the understandable question of Zoe’s appearance, the real concern should be more on Saldana’s skills as an actress to pull off this role, as much as it is Cynthia Mort’s talents as a director to properly tell Nina’s story. Let’s forget about how light or “not black” Saldana is and focus more on Mort’s decision to make this film into “a love story about an artist’s journey unto herself,” rather than an actual biography of Nina Simone’s life. I think this is a sh*t show waiting to happen. No family consent, no biographical details of Simone’s life and it’s focusing on a love story. *sigh* I’m already disappointed!
While Zoe hasn’t done anything wrong, it appears the color of her skin has. There’s now a petition directed to the Cynthia Mort and Jimmy Iovine requesting that another actress that actually looks like Nina be chosen to play the role.
Check out the petition below:
I just signed the following petition addressed to: The producers and casting directors of Untitled (Nina Simone Biopic)..
Replace Zoe Saldana with an actress who actually looks like Nina Simone.
Nina Simone, dubbed The High Priestess of Soul, is an American icon and a music legend. Because of this, it is without a doubt straight up disrespectful to Ms. Simone and her legacy to get an actress who looks nothing like she did to portray her in a movie about her life. Getting light complexioned actors to play the roles of dark complexioned historical figures is not only a sign of blatant disrespect to the persons they are portraying, it is also disrespectful to history, to the people who look like the persons being whitewashed, and to the intelligence of the audience. For too long Hollywood has gotten away with this practice of revisionist history and it is time that we let our voices be heard be it by this petition or by boycotting the movie if no change has been made as to who will portray Nina Simone.
Does Zoe Saldana really not deserve the role of Nina Simone because she’s not dark enough? Sound off in the comments below!
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