Zoe Saldana is a dynamic and prolific actress who has starred in a number of high profile films such as Colombiana, Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Trek Into Darkness and Avatar. However, her role portraying Nina Simone in Nina has come under criticism from industry critics. The reasons range from the lack of a viable theme in the film to the choice of Zoe Saldana to portray the star.
Going a bit into Nina Simone’s background, she was an amazing singer, songwriter and arranger who was able to venture into a number of different genres that included classical, blues, jazz, R&B, pop and gospel. However, she was also a civil rights activist, something which she took seriously as a result of facing discrimination.
For example, one time she applied for a scholarship at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, but she was denied, even though she had a well-received audition. It is alleged that she became fully convinced that she was denied the chance simply because of her race. The institute later on bestowed on her an honorary degree just days before her death in 2003. She was 70.
A talented pianist, she started playing the piano at the age of three and entertained guests at her local church using her talent. At the age of 12, she was due to perform a concert debut, but during the performance, her parents who were seated in the front row were forced to move to the back simply because they were African American, something that made her very angry. She refused to perform until they were reinstated. This initiated her into the civil rights movement.
Going back to the portrayal of Nina Simone in Nina, critics have pointed to a poor representation of the real Nina, with her personal problems such as her battles with mental illness and alcoholism taking center-stage. The following is a report on this by Vibe.
“The audience learns next to nothing about Ms. Simone, besides her battles with alcoholism, mental illness and a dynamic fashion sense. It also fails to answer the most basic of questions about the singer. Why was her music prolific? Who inspired her?
“It’s implied that we should know these things, yet uncovers the film’s discrepancies with the singer’s family. If they were involved, we could have seen another side of the singer that was portrayed in the 2015 Oscar-nominated documentary, What Happened, Miss Simone.”
For the part, Zoe Saldana had to wear a prosthetic nose and dark make up so her skin tone would match that of Nina Simone, but still, this was hard to overlook. The following is an excerpt of the report on this by the site.
“The look is nail biting, especially in moments where the actress is in the shower or swimming in her pool. Due to movie magic it won’t tarnish, but the thought is distracting.”
Simone’s daughter, Lisa Kelly, also criticized using Zoe Saldana for the role. This was while speaking to Time. The following was her statement in regards to this.
“There are many superb actresses of color who could more adequately represent my mother and could bring her to the screen with the proper script, the proper team and a sense of wanting to bring the truth of my mother’s journey to the masses. And Nina, in my opinion, doesn’t do any of that.”
However, Salma Hayek has come to Saldana’s defense, stating that she was blown away by her performance in the film. The following was her exact statement.
“Last night I watched Nina and was blown away by @zoesaldana #performance,”
This is as reported by Latina.
[Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images]