They’re Getting There: First Look At Zoe Saldana’s Nina Simone Transformation

October 22, 2012  |  

Source: Shadow and Act

From the looks of things, i.e. set photos, it appears the Nina Simone biopic is going forward with Zoe Saldana playing the lead part. Shadow and Act published a couple of photos they obtained from the set of the new film and what we see so far is pretty interesting.

As the site notes, no one is sure during which stage of the makeup process these candids were captured, but they do reveal some telling bits of the actress’s transformation. On the positive side, Zoe will be donning the afro which Nina was so fond of in the flick and it also appears teeth and a nose fashioned after the multi-faceted singer’s have been created for the actress as well. What remains to be seen is whether Zoe’s skin, which has been the major point of contention for her choice as the lead, will be darkened. I imagine if the artists have taken these other elements of Nina into consideration, they won’t neglect that detail, and it looks as though there is some darkening around Zoe’s neck in these pics. But you never know.

Source: Shadow and Act

Makeup job aside, in addition to details that Mike Epps is joining the cast as Richard Pryor. It’s also been announced that David Oyelowo has been cast as Nina’s manager, Clifton Henderson, whom according to the NY Times will be portrayed as having some sort of romantic relationship with her — much to the singer’s daughter, Simone Kelly’s, disappointment. So yes, more creative licensing to come.

But for now let’s just stick with what we see before us. What do you think of Zoe’s Nina Simone look so far?

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  • KandiForYou

    Guys this is Hollywood and we know its never gonna to change! The best thing we can do is to encourage more black directors and actors to direct and produce our own movies that show black men and women the way we want them. Till then expect Beyonce and Jay Z to play Barack and Michelle in the upcoming movie “Change”.

  • dbatt001

    gosh this is gunna be the most insulting thing im ever gunna see. Que the black girl jokes.

  • Wouldn’t have to waste money on the work it takes to “uglyfy” Zoe if they would have casted someone with just as much talent but could portray Nina accurately. Adepero Oduye would have been a good choice.

    • Jay

      yes she is gorg

  • Miss D

    It just looks like a crusty Halloween costume.

  • Chassie

    I’m sorry, did the people making this interpret the complaints as “zoe isn’t ugly enough” and just try to make her hideous to play this role? 1. nina was beautiful, this looks nothing like her, 2. if you are going to go with the alterations to make her nina-esque, why not go full out and alter what is the most different, the skin tone? Oh yeah, because then the whole reason zoe was hired would be lost, right?

  • Ebby

    Please somebody who can direct remake this movie and do it right. I know they will put an AA in the mix. Hey Spike Lee, Tyler Perry, John Singleton, Antione Fuque, Lee Daniels I’m calling out to you, we all are. And Zoe look like a monster for a movie Walking Dead.

  • On_Point

    why is hollyweird acting like she is the only “black” actress that exists. I am sure with little effort they can find a black actress that better fits the role.

    • guest17

      She’s one of the more successful black actresses right now thanks to Avatar. The studio thinks she’ll bring in money, so she was cast as Nina Simone. It’s all about money and ticket sales in Hollywood; this movie looks like a bomb in the making, though.

  • On_Point

    umm… no

  • bits

    who is the girl from pariah? now she should have played the part.

    • sammi_lu

      Adepero Oduye..and now that you mention it, I agree. Plus a lesser known actress would have been a good move so that the plot/storyline about Nina isn’t overshadowed by who has been cast to portray her.

  • bits

    interesting how black latinos hate being categorized as black but as soon as hollywood cast them in a role as a black person they are super happy to do so…although zoe has stated that she is a black latina. but there are plenty who won’t even let the word touch them. i wonder how they feel about this casting choice. It’s an obvious fail not because zoe is a black latina but because one of the major aspects of Ms. Simones life was her struggle to find her place in the world/industry as a DARK skin black woman…smh.

  • iReezy

    They had to use so much make up on Zoe to make this transformation believable that it looks caked on or like she’s wearing a mask. I could actually peel away the layers. It’s claymation – she could be a character in Shrek with that makeup! When you have to go that far, just find a better match. Smh

  • Keysha Stevenson

    Major Fail!!!

  • At the very least they could have hired a black actress. She does not consider or identifies as a black woman and it infuriates me that Hollywood keeps casting her in roles for sistahs. Honestly she’s acceptable black beauty in the media. It what’s the Hollywood execs deems to be a safe sistah. Not too black to be taboo but black enough to fufil the jungle fever jezebel fantasy! SMH! Over it!

    • Candacey Doris

      She does identify as a black actress. So please stop saying that.

  • Kie

    Nope! I think its an insult to Nina Simone, there are other appropriate choices in my opinion. But hey they did the samething with Etta James & Beyonce. #Epic Fail!

  • C

    No. Just, no. I’m not usually outright negative, but this seems wrong. It just doesn’t make sense to me right now. Who knows, maybe it will. I just can’t right now.

  • Nope.

  • how long will you bleed this “colorism” article for what it’s worth?

    • msgeegee

      But you clicked on it and read it thought.! So, um…..yeah.

      • msgeegee


    • Free

      Exactly and that is what this is all about. Many black people are jealous of Black people who are not dark skin now in this case they are jealous of an Afro Latino but i don’t see them getting upset when dark skin people play lighter skin people and thus the double standard….

      • mspurplerain

        I agree, but it’s still not right….

      • Kay

        Lol Noones jealous! This is just blatantly inaccurate it’s like casting diggy Simmons to play Gary Coleman or Chris brown to play Bernie mac

  • spottieottiedopaliscious

    So there were no brown skinned actresses that could have played this part? I’m so confused right now.

    • IllyPhilly

      Aaaaah, You took the words outta my mouth!!!

  • HoneyBewBew

    And another thing…. where in the wigcrypt hell did they get that wig?! I mean, cmon son! That’s disrespectful !

    • sammi_lu

      I’m not feeling the “Mr Ed-ish” flipper teeth under Zoe’s thin lips either and side profile. It just looks so Halloween.

  • HoneyBewBew

    *infinite Boooooooo’s* on this one. Nope.


    No thoroughbred African American actress wasnt available to play this part?!?

    • gmarie

      You know.. honestly I don’t care that Zoe isn’t African American..she just isn’t the one. I can go to the Dominican Republic and come back with binders full of women who could accurately portray the look of Nina. They probably act just as well as Zoe…

      I wouldn’t enlist her to play in a Celia Cruz biopic either tbh..she just is NOT the one. This makeup looks tragic..and I hope this movie gets shelved.

      • yaya

        Lol @ binders full of women

      • Ivy

        lol @ the “binders full of women”

      • Kay

        Lmfaoo dead at the binders full of women refrence

  • I really don’t want to spend money on this in theaters, so I will wait for the to air on BET, next to “Holiday Heart”, “Why Did I Get Married” and “Lawd, I need a Good Man”.

    • IllyPhilly

      Dead if that last one is a real movie title, if not just wait for, Madea, gets a man. LOL @ Boondocks

      • There is a play called “God Send Me a Man” featuring Robin Givens by Emmbre Perry. Get your life and Google that mess! LOL…

    • You forgot Juice and Belly!!!

  • sammi_lu

    they could have found a better wig than that..if you gone do it get it right.

  • Guest

    This movie can be named : ” Nina Simone: Vampire Hunter” . It is such a disappointment to see such an iconic and revered personality commodified. I will not see this movie I admire Ms Simone’s talent too much to endorse this……

  • Common Cent$

    This has to be a joke. First of all although Nina wasn’t aesthically pleasing to white Hollywood she was beautiful. Next her skin was flawless and her hair was looked just as good. I’m sorry but Zoe should be insulted that she looks so cheap and like they just don’t care about her actual portryal.

  • Martinez

    She looks bad without makeup anyway. Interesting that when she played Nichelle Nichol’s role as Uhuru on Star Trek they didn’t change her appearance and Nichelle is much better looking in real life than Zoe is.

    • pfeiffer87

      The Star Trek film wasn’t meant to be a remake per se, it was more of a re-interpretation. They weren’t meant to be lookalikes of the old characters – for example the actor who played Sulu was Japanese-American George Takei in the old series but a Korean-American John Cho in the new one, they both look completely different and have different ethnic backgrounds much like Zoe Saldana and Nichelle Nichols. So Zoe Saldana’s facial similarity to Nichelle Nichols is really a moot point.

  • bluekissess

    Home girl looks hideous lmao

  • Ms. Bee

    Still an absolute no.

  • autumnbreeze

    I’m sorry but I’m just not feeling her playing this role. And seeing these pictures just makes me not want to see the movie….I do like her as an actress, but “NO’ on this one. Sorry girl…###myopinion###