Zoe Saldana’s Skin Color Is Not The Right Shade To Play Nina Simone, Critics Say

Zoe Saldana has received a great deal of criticism lately for her portrayal of Nina Simone in upcoming biopic Nina. But there are those who support the 37-year-old actress, who had to make her skin tone appear darker than usual and enlarge her nose a little to resemble Simone, according to the Huffington Post.

In early March, Nina’s first trailer and poster were released, and the world got the first glimpse of how Zoe Saldana will look like in the movie. And with Simone’s daughter allegedly calling Saldana “not the best choice” to portray her mother, the trailer and poster raised even more doubts about Saldana being fit for the role.

It was previously reported that Mary J. Blige was originally set to play Simone, but she then dropped out before the filming process began and was replaced with Zoe Saldana, according to the Guardian. Viewers of the latest Nina trailer noted that it was pretty uncomfortable to watch.

But Queen Latifah and Paula Patton don’t think that Zoe Saldana was “not the best choice” to portray the legendary musician. On Monday, a reporter approached Latifah at the premiere of The Perfect Match and asked the actress to share her opinion about the growing criticism surrounding Saldana and her appearance in the upcoming movie.

Noting that Zoe Saldana is “a great actress,” Latifah said that she’s looking forward to seeing the movie.

“She is of African descent, I don’t see why she shouldn’t play the role. I just want to see it.”

Shortly after Latifah’s comments, Patton shared her view as well, arguing that it’s a “horrible thing” to criticize an actor before actually seeing the entire movie.

“So I wouldn’t want to put that kind of judgment on anything that I haven’t seen, first and foremost, but most importantly imagine being in her shoes and enduring that. It’s not cool, and it’s not right…”

Patton also noted that Nina Simone was a “magnificent woman,” while Zoe Saldana is “absolutely an incredible actress,” which is why it’s worth giving the Avatar star a shot. Nina debuts in theaters and on-demand platforms on April 22, the date when everybody will have to decide whether Saldana is fit for the role or not.

India Arie, who portrayed Nina Simone in the TV movie American Dreams, went as far to call the choice to cast Zoe Saldana “tone-deaf casting.” Arie said that the way Saldana looks in the movie made her “sad.” Arie even wrote an open letter arguing that it’s an example of when the actor has to darken up to play the role.

Lisa Simone Kelly, Nina Simone’s daughter, revealed she wasn’t “upset” seeing Zoe Saldana cast in the movie and even said that it’s unfortunate that the actress, who is mixed Latino and African, is being attacked “so viciously,” according to Billboard.

In her recent interview, Simone’s only child revealed that she had no knowledge of a tweet in which Kelly allegedly called Zoe Saldana “not the best choice” to portray her mother. Kelly said that even though the tweet came from the verified Twitter account of Nina Simone’s estate, she learned about the tweet only recently.

According to Kelly, her family hired their friend to manage Nina Simone’s official website and Facebook page a few years ago.

“It’s unfortunate that Zoe Saldana is being attacked so viciously when she is someone who is part of a larger picture.”

Kelly also noted that Zoe Saldana clearly did her best for this project, but for some reason, the Guardians of the Galaxy actress is being attacked when she is not “responsible for any of the writing or the lies.”

[Photo by John Minihan/Getty Images]