There’s been a ton of controversy surrounding the Nina Simone biopic starring Zoe Saldana. Now we’ve learned that Saldana, who had her skin darkened for the role, will also sing the songs featured in the biopic of the jazz singer’s life.
David Oyelowo, who stars alongside Zaldana in the biopic Nina, commented to E! at the Essence Black women in Hollywood Luncheon of the star’s commitment to getting her Nina Simone portrayal down:
“I think a lot of people are going to be surprised of the sheer power of her. She went to work. She is a huge admirer of Nina Simone and that crept into what she did. She wanted to tell the truth and every day we were on that set, that’s what I saw.”
It was also revealed at the luncheon that Zoe Saldana, who is unrecognizable as Nina, will sing and match Nina Simone note for note. Her costar continued singing her praises:
“She did do her own singing. It was fantastic, surprisingly. Nina Simone is no joke in terms of her singing voice. I was pretty blown away.”
Throughout the production we’ve been reporting the controversy surrounding the initial announcement that Saldana would step into Nina Simone’s shoes. Back in August Nina Simone’s daughter spoke out against the biopic because she wasn’t contacted for her support even though she’s the sole keeper of her mother’s legacy.
At the time she said of Saldana’s casting:
“The one actress that I’ve had in my heart for a very long time, whose work I’m familiar with already, is Kimberly Elise. Many people have spoken to me about Viola. I love her look. I love her energy. Both of the actresses that I’ve mentioned are women of color, are women with beautiful, luscious lips and wide noses, and who know their craft. I also have no problem introducing someone we’ve never heard of before who can play my mother.”
Further controversy followed Zoe Saldana’s appearance as Nina Simone when her dark skin was revealed looking rather cake-y for makeup that should have blended more, or at least matched the actresses skin tone a bit better. To be fair, since the candid photos came out of Saldana on set, an official photo from the production has yet to be released, so it’s hard to say if it’s a horrible makeup job, or if it has more to do with poor lighting in the picture.
What do you think of Zoe Saldana singing Nina Simone’s songs in the biopic? Does this give her the merit she needs, or should she have left well enough alone?