India.Arie blasts Zoe Saldana in 'Nina'

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

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?