Zoe Saldana has come under fire for her role in Nina Simone’s biopic, Nina, which was released with critics passing judgments – from she was too light skinned and pretty for the role, to Simone’s estate slashing her to ‘never mention the singer’s name ever again’.
Those vitriols obviously didn’t affect the actress. “The fact that we’re talking about her, that Nina Simone is trending? We fucking won,” Saldana exclaimed excitedly in her Allure interview, while dishing on the ups and downs she had to go through in portrayal of her character.
“For so many years, nobody knew who the fuck she was. She is essential to our American history. As a woman first, and only then as everything else.”
Regards being too light skinned to play a black role, Saldana responded, “There’s no one way to be black. I’m black the way I know how to be. You have no idea who I am. I am black. I’m raising black men. Don’t you ever think you can look at me and address me with such disdain.”
“I never saw her as unattractive. Nina looks like half my family!” Zoe Saldana defended the idea she was too pretty to play Simone,“But if you think the [prosthetic] nose I wore was unattractive, then maybe you need to ask yourself, What do you consider beautiful? Do you consider a thinner nose beautiful, so the wider you get, the more insulted you become?”
The last five years has followed Saldana like a bread to butter since she first had her initial casting in 2012 to the first trailer on YouTube to the quiet, no-fanfare release of the film in April.
She has also seen her fair share of social media hatred for having the audacity to play the dark-skinned, highly political singer.
One time she shared a tweet from Simone, and the singer’s estate tweeted, “Cool story but please take Nina’s name out of your mouth. For the rest of your life.” Harsh.
Saldana’s driving force for taking the role after rejecting it for a year was due to the fact that female black stories weren’t relevant enough.
“The script probably would still be lying around, going from office to office, agency to agency, and nobody would have done it. Female stories aren’t relevant enough, especially a black female story,” Zoe Saldana said.
“I made a choice. Do I continue passing on the script and hope that the ‘right’ black person will do it, or do I say, ‘You know what? Whatever consequences this may bring about, my casting is nothing in comparison to the fact that this story must be told.'”
Watch the official trailer of ‘Nina’