More Uproar Against Zoe Saldana Going In ‘Blackface’ For ‘Nina Simone’ Biopic
A controversy about diversity, or a lack thereof, on the heels of #OscarsSoWhite shows no signs of ending now that the movie poster of Zoe Saldana in “blackface” has been unveiled for the Nina Simone biopic. Amongst the parties sharing their opinions is the estate of Nina Simone, namely her daughter, who is appalled that Saldana was “darkened” and wore a fake nose to play her mother.
According to Variety, the estate of singer Nina Simone is slamming Zoe Saldana, and the opinions have gone very public on social media. After Saldana quoted Simone in a tweet, she was shut down by the account for the Nina Simone estate.
“Please take Nina’s name out of your mouth. For the rest of your life,” the estate tweeted at Saldana’s account.
And after that, they tweeted to indicate that there was more to come.
“Hopefully people begin to understand this is painful. Gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, nauseating, soul-crushing. It shall pass, but for now…”
— Pitchfork (@pitchfork) March 3, 2016
Robert L. Johnson, who is distributing the Nina Simone film, said that even after controversy concerning the Saldana casting emerged, there was still a great deal of support for her playing Simone.
“Zoë Saldana delivers an exceptional and mesmerizing tribute to Nina Simone,” said Johnson, founder and chairman of RLJ Entertainment and founder of BET. “She gave her heart and soul to the role and displayed her extraordinary talent.”
Johnson is flipping the complaints around by saying that an actor should never be cast based on color.
Zoe Saldana — Not Black Enough? Nina Simone Estate Lashes Out https://t.co/E75vmRJkAF
— TMZ (@TMZ) March 4, 2016
The New York Times says the Nina Simone biopic is dredging up conversations about Saldana, Simone, and the spectrum of black skin. Considering that the life of Nina Simone was all about the power and beauty of black skin, Saldana does seem like a peculiar choice. Saldana has described herself in the media as both black and Latina. Critics have far less to say about Zoe Saldana’s acting ability, and more to say about the lengths that the make-up artists had to go to in order to make Saldana darker skinned.
“You are a skinny, light skinned, publicly apolitical actress in black face,” one person wrote.
Josie Picken, a writer for Ebony Magazine, who is against the casting of Saldana as Nina Simone, believes that Saldana was cast to make the dark-skinned Simone “more palatable” to audiences.
“Quite frankly, we cannot afford the luxury of letting another one of our heroes be recast as some gentler, more digestible version of themselves.”
The company behind the distribution of the Nina Simone biopic has fired back at critics in a new statement https://t.co/DurIqeouDF
— Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) March 3, 2016
Page Six is claiming that fans are having problems with the idea of Zoe Saldana in blackface with a prosthetic nose in order to resemble Nina Simone. The estate of Nina Simone has called the decision to go ahead with Zoe Saldana soul-crushing, gut-wrenching, and heartbreaking. Saldana has confirmed that she is Puerto Rican and Dominican. Saldana said she initially didn’t think she was right for the role, but then explained that many didn’t think Elizabeth Taylor should play Cleopatra.
Simone Kelly, Nina Simone’s daughter, explains that this is all so unfortunate, because her mother, Nina, was regularly told that her nose was too wide, and her skin was too dark.
“Appearance-wise this is not the best choice.”
— Slate (@Slate) March 3, 2016
Madame Noire wonders if fans will be able to look past the prosthetic nose and blackface Zoe Saldana is wearing in order to understand the message of Nina Simone’s life. Daughter Lisa Simone claims that the movie also got some facts wrong, like implying that her gay male assistant was her love interest.
The movie had many missteps, and Zoe Saldana was cast to replace Mary J. Blige, who left the project.
Will you see Zoe Saldana in the Nina Simone biopic?
[Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images]