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India.Arie Blasts Zoe Saldana’s Casting As Nina Simone

India.Arie blasts Zoe Saldana in 'Nina'

India.Arie is the latest person to criticize Zoe Saldana’s casting as Nina Simone in the upcoming, unauthorized biopic Nina.

The “Video” singer launched into a lengthy rant on Simone’s official website, saying that people had been asking her about a movie about the late singer and civil rights activist. Arie said she reserved judgment when she learned about Saldana’s casting, but had to speak out when she saw the images that had surfaced of Saldana as Simone. Arie said:

“Yes there should be a movie made, and YES they should have chosen someone who LOOKS like Nina Simone, ESPECIALLY since her RACE played such a PIVOTAL role in WHO, WHAT and WHY, she was.

THAT ASIDE for a second, this just looks WEIRD, it looks like a person in Black(er) face with a fake nose … REALLY?!!!!


If they were going to pick a person who looks NOTHING like Nina Simone … why not her daughter Simone *shrug* just saying …”

Arie also went on to say that she hoped through Saldana’s “obvious admiration of Nina, that [she] can pull off the portrayal ENERGETICALLY …”

The 37-year-old singer said the images of Saldana made her sad as they felt out of place with what Simone meant in an African American historical context. She admitted that she had always been open to playing Simone — and that she is “clearly Nina Simone’s Physical Heir Apparent” — but that didn’t mean she should have played her.

Arie ended by saying she thought Viola Davis should play Simone.

Saldana has come under a lot of criticism for her role in the biopic, as many believe the Puerto Rican and Dominican actress was miscast. The AV Club said, “Many said the decision was a typically craven attempt to cast a more traditionally beautiful, ‘marketable’ actress in a role, despite the fact that Nina Simone wasn’t traditionally beautiful or ‘marketable’ is such an important part of her story.”

Simone’s daughter, Simone Kelly, was one of the most vocal opponents of Saldana’s casting and the film in general. She said the actress she had in her heart was Kimberly Elise, but she also said she had no problem bringing in an unknown to play her mother. Kelly also isn’t involved with the film in any way and was upset that she and others close to Simone had been ignored when it came time to make the biopic.

Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone

Do you agree with India.Arie’s comments? Who do you think should have played Nina Simone?

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13 Responses to “India.Arie Blasts Zoe Saldana’s Casting As Nina Simone”

  1. Sydney Nicole A

    I am a woman of color, as well as an alumna of the illustrious Spelman College. It is my duty to encourage and support our beautiful black women in all their richness of which God has diversely created. Ms. Saldana is a wonderful young actress, but I do believe that a woman such as Nina Simone that has held her glorious dark chocolate face high in spite of her oppressors should be represented with an African-American woman bearing her likeness. Sometimes the outside world does not comprehend the degree of elegance and intellect that a woman with a face so brown and hips so round possesses. With that said I charge all of my beautiful black sisters, brothers, and even my extended family of other ethnicities to understand this petition, support it and spread the good word about it.

  2. Sandra Cook

    I love zoe but this role should have went to kimberly.when you need to make zoe darker that's really sad.

  3. Ninos Jando

    For crying out loud, Kimberly and Viola are both in their 40's, and this film focuses on Simone when she was half that age. They're also both attached to other films (and very well could have declined the role for all we know). They also don't look a thing like Nina Simone. Where the hell were all these people when Jake Gyllenhaal was playing the Prince of Persia, or when Nicole Kidman was given a prosthetic nose to play Virginia Wolf?

  4. Andrea Jackson

    I responded to the person who created the petition and said " I would just like to say that this petition makes no sense. Black people comes in all different shades and colors and many African American actors and actresses have played characters who were a different shade than they were. For example, Denzel Washington played Malcolm X and Malcolm X was a light skinned Black man and Angela Bassett played Tina Turner and Tina Turner is light skinned and Angela is dark. Also Angela played Rosa Parks who was also another light skinned activist. Sidney Poitier played Thurgood Marshall and Sydney is very dark and Thurgood is very light. Cecily Tyson played Coretta Scott King and Cecily is dark and Coretta was light. So I just do not understand why when a light skinned Black plays a dark skinned person, it becomes an uproar. I wonder why there hasn't been a petition to protest the new Cleopatra film that stars a White woman, Angelina Jolie. Now that is a serious race issue, not a Black Latina, Zoe Saldana portraying a Black American, Nina Simone".

    After that I got an ear full of how I don't understand and that this was not a light verses dark issue but I disagreed and posted and said "This does sound like a light verses dark issue because you said in your petition that 'when Hollywood gets 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, but it is also disrespectful to their families, to history, to the people who look like the persons being whitewashed, and to the intelligence of the audience.' I understand dark skinned people have been discriminated against, but so have many light skinned people, but many African Americans tend to ignore the fact that light skinned Blacks get discriminated against a lot. When I first entered public school years ago, I was harassed because I had light skin and straighter hair. I just wanted to do my work and get ahead in life but each time I was greeted with hostility, racism and jealousy. I grew up, went to college and wanted to make films based on our history. I wanted to make a film and portray a mulatto slave and as I was writing the script, a dark skinned man actually told me I could not play her because I was too light skinned. I told him that there were many light skinned slaves and in fact, many of them were sold off by the White slave mistress because she didn't want any biracial children of her husband in the house. I also read in many slave narratives that light skinned Black children were harshly treated by the White slave mistress and their half white siblings, however I haven't heard anyone talk about that. These are issues that need to be addressed as well. In order to get past the skin color crisis in our community, we have to stop dogging each other out. We have to love both our light, brown, dark skinned brothers and sisters and not act like it is embarrassing or wrong if one of us plays a role of another who maybe of a different shade. I never complained of Denzel playing Malcolm X or Angela Bassett playing Tina Turner or Sidney Poitier playing Thurgood Marshall or Cecily Tyson playing Coretta Scott King. These were all light skinned Black activists and I never thought that it was wrong or miscast for dark skinned actors to play these roles and you shouldn’t think it is wrong for Zoe Saldana to play Nina Simone. I think what is embarrassing is that we have so much racism and hatred in our own community that many of us would rally against one good Black actress who is just trying to get a better role for herself and attack her all throughout the internet. That right there can bring bad karma on yourself. You have to think before you attack people. Also if you want to see these movies done the way you like, then do like I did and go to film school, write scripts, and put them to work, but others who are doing their thing, just let them be. Live and let live and go on about your life. Make your own Nina Simone movie if you do not like this one. That is what I had to learn when I saw many films that I couldn’t stand. That would make more sense than complaining on a message board and writing and sending petitions on the issue."

  5. Sydney Nicole A

    I have to disagree for threw simple fact threw Ms. Saldana is not African American. She is Latin American.

  6. Sydney Nicole A

    I have to disagree for the simple fact that Ms. Saldana is not African American. She is Latin American.

  7. Yensie Minaya

    Ms. Saldana is not latin american or Puerto Rican as the article says. she is 100% Dominican. Since she is not dark enough and not African american , add that she looks nothing like this Nina Simone, people think she can't pull it off bu, t why didn't they pick and african american actress in the first place.

  8. Melvin Moore

    iti think there's a little envy in the air….india just what is your acting resume'…give zoe a break she is a real actress.

  9. Andrea Jackson

    She is Black Latina. Do your homework properly and you will find out that our African ancestors were dispursed to both North and South America.

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