Is Zoe Saldana too “light skinned” to play Nina Simone? The Avatar actress was recently cast as The High Priestess of Soul for an upcoming biopic, but not everyone agrees with the casting choice.
A petition has been circulated on Change.org asking the producers of the film to re-cast the role with a dark skinned actress.
“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, 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.”
NPR reports that Simone, who passed away in 2003, said often in interviews that she felt that Hollywood penalized dark-skinned actors. Simone Kelly, the singer’s daughter, also said that she wasn’t happy with the choice to cast Saldana.
“My mother was raised at a time when she was told her nose was too wide, her skin was too dark. Appearance-wise (Zoe Saldana) is not the best choice.”
According to the Huffington Post, Saldana will wear a prosthetic nose and an afro wig and will have her skinned darkened for the role. Here’s a picture of Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone.