Nina Is That You? Zoe’s Transformation Is Complete

October 29, 2012  |  

Source: FreddyO

Last week we showed you a few preliminary pics of Zoe Saldana’s transformation toward becoming the Nina Simone and from the looks of some new pics that have hit the Internet, the process appears to be complete. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing, I’ll let you decide.

The good news is the prosthetic nose and new teeth are still there, the afro has been trimmed, and Zoe’s skin has been darkened. Is she a dead ringer for Nina? Not exactly. Can she pass with independent film special effects and lighting? Probably.

Though we’ve heard a great deal from Cynthia Mort, the director behind this project, and Nina Simone’s own daughter, Simone, one person who hasn’t said a thing about this lead role is Zoe Saldana herself. Perhaps she plans to just let her work speak for herself rather than answer the critics directly, as there are quite a few of them. Who knows, maybe she can blow this part out of the park.

Here’s another look at Zoe’s transformation. Shadow and Act has a few new photos as well. What do you think?


Source: FreddyO

Trending on MadameNoire

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  • I can’t wait to see Christina Aguilera play Aretha Franklin. That’s gonna great. O_o

  • yata

    lets just support our sister maybe she will learn from this.

  • The colorstruck ignorance around this issue is astonishing.

    Hollywood makes a film about a Black icon and casts a talented Black actress to play her – and we’re whining because the actress is somehow “not Black enough”?

    Seriously, folks?

    Crabs in a barrel!

  • Tee-tee

    Since people claim color doesn’t matter, then they might as well have gotten a white actress to play the role. There are white actresses that can act better than Zoe and adding a little more black face would not have been that costly.

  • THIS IS OFFENSIVE! Why is it that someone that is an eight black can play a woman that was fully black and proud of it! They are so many actresses that could have played this part well yet they turn to prosthetics just to avoid casting them! If they are so willing to do this, why did they not cast Lucy Liu for the role of Marilyn Monroe since shes more known than Michelle Williams?? Its because Hollywood are still so racist that black is sooooooooooo many things, yet white is only one??? So disappointed! You couldn’t pay me enough to financially support this film by watching it! ugh!

  • dbatt001

    I am completely disgusted with this whole situation. I CANT! It makes no damn since, there are plenty of wonderful black actresses that could play Nina, but they are going through all this trouble to make Zoe look like her? I have never been impressed with her acting and if they could make this movie with a white actress without an epic backlash from the black community, they would. Zoe is the closest they are going to get.

  • entyce

    It is rare to see an actor/actress to come close to the original in a biopic. In my personal opinion, Jamie Foxx was by far one of the best. He absolutely nailed the role of Ray Charles. As for Zoe Saldana, I really don’t consider her a “great” actress. I don’t think she’s a bad actress either, it’s just she doesn’t fit this role. Hopefully for her and the director’s sake the movie turns out to be a success.

  • jackieOsassin

    i CANNOT with this. i have tried, and i just can’t. i don’t know which is more SMH worthy: the fact that the studios are still really really trying to make this work, or that white media is trying to goad it along with taglines like, “she looks JUST like the soul singer.”

    NO. get off drugs and open your corn-fed eyes. THIS IS NOT NINA. i feel like i’m taking crazy pills.

  • nikki

    im sorry this is a mess…

    • jackieOsassin

      a hot, slimy, sticky one where, once you touch it, you notice how different your hands feel afterward and you want to wash them to get it off but there’s no sink nearby so you do that awkward “pants wipe” thing but it’s still there.

  • Bannon

    I would have loved to see Audra McDonald play Nina Simone. They look similar (especially the nose and mouth) and Audra is a talented singer and actress. She also covered Nina’s work onstage, so she’s already familiar with Nina’s songs.

    • ange

      I totally agree with you

  • Dreama

    Sadly Zoe Saldana is the new Halle Berry. Apparently hollyweird only has room for one black actress (usually half black) at a time. They cherry pick these same two women to represent the black community over and over again. I’m not surprised Zoe was chosen for this role, she had the part way before she auditioned. It’s sad because so many other black actresses that didn’t require the prosthetics and are just as talented could have easily been used. Nothing against Zoe or Halle, but when is hollyweird going to realize these aren’t the only black actresses to choose from?

  • Tanycha

    The make-up adjustments look better than the first crop of pictures shown. But Zoe still doesn’t resemble or remind me of Nina Simone at all. Maybe her acting will fill in the gaps. It will be interesting to see her rendition of Nina’s speech and body language. I remember Nina as being powerfully sensuous with a speaking voice like deep water. I’ll go see it and I wish Zoe the best.

  • thatonegirl

    Why? I’m sure Tika Sumpter was available. Love me some Zoe but this role ain’t it.

  • Why do ppl just keep throwing out dark skinned ppl that could have played her regardless if they’re actresses or not? India Arie, Mary J, hell J.Hud, aren’t true actresses and are at times unbearable to watch. This is what actors do, change characters! I just saw Cloud Atlas, ppl changed genders for godsakes…let the woman act and we’ll judge then!

    • thirtythoughts


    • artofblaqueness

      I think the problem here is that the makeup job that it took to get here to look like that is far too distracting for most people I think to even pay attention to the job she can do in the role. It looks like obvious blackface to me–that is all I can see, and it’s highly disturbing to me on many levels
      I can think of quite a few talented actresses who could have played that role without all the makeup, but unfortunately none of them have the name recognition they were obviously looking for by casting Zoe.
      Which is a sad commentary on how few young, brown-skinned actresses can reach such a level of success in Hollywood, because it seems only the light-skinned ones get to be superstars.

    • Guest

      Ummm… what are you talking about? First, Jennifer Hudson won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in Dream Girls. Second, you clearly have ZERO understanding of just how twisted Hollywood has portrayed Blacks, particularly Black women. Case and point, will you ever see a Black actress playing Elizabeth Taylor or Black actor playing Julius Caesar in a major motion picture? Or a Black person playing any sort of white legend?

      As a biracial woman myself, I’m telling you that the fact that they are putting a light-skinned actress in BLACK FACE is a disgrace and an insult. Anybody saying otherwise doesn’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

    • dbatt001

      I think you are missing the point Jenna

  • Guest

    She looks like C. Thomas Howell in Soul Man (1986).

    • OMG…that is true!

    • ANTMilf

      I remember that movie, LOL!

  • 2014: Justin Timberlake as Sammy Davis Jr and Channing Tatum is Joe Lewis?

    • Guest

      lmao!!! The sad, unfunny part is, though, I could totally see your scenarios happening.

    • Suchalady

      Eva Mendes as Maya Angelou. People aren’t getting it. It’s not about dark-skinned over light-skinned or a complexion division. It’s the slap in the face this film delivers, in that all of the actresses who bare a stronger resemblance and have more talent weren’t seen as good enough. And we know why…

  • Honestly, she looks like she’s wearing blackface, and that disturbs me. It’s still not convincing, and I’m still not feeling this at all.

  • What I hate most about this is the associated conversation about how ugly they had to make a women considered beautiful by european standards.
    WE all agree Nina Simone is a beautiful women but not by white traditional standards. We have an apperciation about ourselves and our variety found throughout the world and we never request any additional commentary. Now I believe Zoe is talented but the conversation around this isn’t going to be about what a spectaculr women Nina Simone was. It has been and will be whether Zoe can pull off this character and how unattractive they had to make her.
    Too much of a stretch for me. It;’s not even the skin difference as much as trying to give her african features. It’s insulting to Nina Simone. IMHO

    • dbatt001

      and the best comment on this article goes to you.

  • Candacey Doris

    I’m ok with this. It’s not perfect, but she’s a good enough actress to fix that. Let’s see how the film goes.

  • she better not sweat

  • ArabellaMichaela

    It’s offensive. Do these producers know anything about history? Frankly, there is something so innately offensive about “blackface” performers, which is what this amounts to, that this should not be accepted. From what I read, there are so few roles for talented black actresses who would not require blackface to play Nina, the choice of Saldana is a slap in the face to dark skinned women of color, like Nina. Why would they do this. Dt they really think they are going to increase the audience for his movie by having a Latina, Saldana, in this role. Where? She is not that big a star. This is needlessly offensive. It is like those old hollywood movies where all the Egyptians and Africans extras were played by white actors/actresses with dark makeup, because Hollywood refused to hire black actors/actresses.

    • Guest

      Thank you! Some people are on here talking some craziness. This is 2012 and people STILL DON’T UNDERSTAND THAT BLACK FACE IS NOT OK.

      And some people on here are talking about Zoe having the most talent to play this role, are you kidding me? She’s not a great actress like that. She played an alien or two, so now she can portray Nina Simone? Are people serious? If so, I guess their spaceship left the damn planet, too.

    • Tolani

      Thank you soooo much!!!!!!

  • Pingback: Zoe Saldana is Nina Simone « 30thoughts()

  • L-Boogie

    Congratulations, Zoe Saldana. I am extremely proud of your accomplishments.

  • IllyPhilly

    So was this cheaper than a dark-skinned big nose actress?

  • First off Zoe can’t act. If ou compare her to actresses like Angela Bassett and Viola Davis she’s an amatuer. Zoe being chosen to play Nina Simone was a bad choice. Period.

  • prettypanties

    I agree with sassy! Can’t please everyone!

  • Rawtid

    To the person who said something about her being the only person that could act the part you know damn well that’s a lie. There are many talented dark skin actors that could’ve played the part, it’s a damn shame they are using ZOE with her white man loving, I am not black but Hispanic assss. That chick is so white washed it’s ridiculous.

    • Black Rose

      Zoe Saldana always lets people know she’s black. I’ve seen her say it in interviews.

    • J

      She always says she’s black. However she looks crazy in these pics and they could have done way better. No one’s going to see this anyway.

    • *le sigh*

      Nina Simone was married to a white man- that doesn’t make a black woman less black. Grow up. However, blackface? NEVER okay. I dont care who you are. The producers should be ashamed.

  • Can anyone say Viloa Davis or even India Arie many daker actresses that are talented.I do like Zoe she is also talented but to me not good enough.I love Nina Simone wish people could find the beauty in darker skin no im not dark so i dont have any deep rooted pain but i would just love to see how Zoe does maybe im wrong

    • OHHH

      “I am not dark so I don’t have any deep rooted pain”? You’re implying that dark skin people have “deep rooted pain”? Lmaooo, black people and their different shades and skintones. Before you know it, we’re going to start differentiating people with eye size, ear size, teeth whitening, or maybe nail structure. It’s just skintone for crying out loud. Black people always starting their sentence with “im not dark, or im light skinned”’re still black.
      We need to start slavery, enslave white people and we’ll divide them over ear size, who ever got the biggest ears is the most beautiful. 450 years later, watch them fight over who’s better looking. Just plain ridiculous from the outside looking in.

    • thirtythoughts

      When did India Arie start acting!!?? Can we use actresses and not musicians and singers?? They are NOT synonymous.

      • Dreama

        Why stick to one if you’re good at both. India Arie is multi talented which is one of the reasons i’m a fan. She would have given a stellar performance to this role.

        • thirtythoughts

          How do you know she’s multi-talented? Was she in a film I missed?

  • Zoe is a great actress she proved that when she played in Avatar and that’s probably why they selected her. Yes, she had some extra make up done to make her “look” the part but I’m quite sure she can already “Act” the part. I guarantee you this movie will put her on the map for those who don’t already know how talented she really is. All the negativity can stop. I think she will play the hell out of this role and i can’t wait to see it. I just don’t see what the big deal is about her transformation, it’s entertainment people. She is playing a “character” please tell me again what the big deal is. Ain’t like the girl was Mariah Carey complexion at first. She was and is brown skinned.

    • thirtythoughts

      Finally someone with some sense. Zoe is already brown. I’m probably the same complexion, but in the summer can get pretty dark. That’s what makes the “skin darkening” issue laughable. That’s nothing but a tan. People change drastically for roles like this all the time. They gain/lose large amounts of weight, wear fat suits, etc. People don’t go around crying about there being plenty of fat actresses that could have played a certain role. This whole discussion is silly.

  • Leslie

    She’s in black face! Its highly offensive to Nina and darker skinned women everywhere. They picked her bc she’s pretty. She’s not right for the role at all.

    • Guest360

      I’m sorry but that’s crap. What does her being pretty have to do with anything if they aren’t allowing her to continue as she naturally is? It’d be one thing if they didn’t give her all the prosthetics and make up and just let her play the part as she is. Then I can see her being pretty playing a factor but maybe. Just maybe, the darker skin girls they auditioned didn’t hold a candle to the performance Zoe gave. Although no one will ever know until the movie comes out just how good of a performance she’s able to give. So until then, I’m going to wait and judge when it comes out. No sense in talking about something no one actually knows a lick of info about.

  • Tolani

    They put her in black face……why didn’t they just cast a darker woman? This makes me sick and I just lost respect for Zoe Saldana.

  • srb199

    Why does she have to “transform” at all. Diana Ross played Billie Holiday and didn’t alter her appearance at all. She did a great job portraying the adult part of that character (it’s another story about why she player her as a child…). But the point is the performance, and whether or not she can convey what we all know and love about Nina Simone. This seem like a distraction, and is unfortunate. Personally, it’s offensive.

  • sassybuttclassy

    Just wondering if the people upset that shes playing this part ever took into consideration that maybe she was the only person the director felt could ACT the part was her.
    I’m sure if a person who was darker and favored Nina as far as looks was found to play the part and totally flopped on the acting skills everybody would still be mad.
    I think it’s a better idea to have a person who actually CAN act this particular part and just dress them up to look the part rather than a horrible actress who just ‘looks’ the part.
    But either way people are never happy just for the sake of not being happy.

  • Kg

    It’s just that the cultures of these two black women are completely different Zoe is Dominican of African descent and that is completely different than being and African American women and I don’t think she does not have the point of reference or connection to bring her story or do her story justice in my opinion but ill wait …….to see tho but not with much confidence in this selection to choose Zoe for this role

    • So in other words you think Dominicans aren’t “real Blacks”?

  • This movie (if it ever even makes it to theaters) will be a bust. I won’t even comment on the make-up/prosthetic. It speaks for itself…smh

  • ANTMilf

    Sorry but I wish they could have hired a darker skin black woman to play Nina, Zoe looks like she’s dressing as Nina Simone for Halloween.


    I hate it!! She has make up to darken her skin, sad they couldnt hired someone dark skin to play the role….

  • Tamz


  • A

    I do not like it, sure she looks okay but there are many black women in hollywood that could play this role without prosthetics and a butload of makeup.

    • thirtythoughts

      Such as…? Zoe is a great actress, and many actors have to completely transform to play in biopics. It’s not that serious, and I totally think she can pull it off.

      • @thirtythoughts:disqus I definitely agree…she has transformed into a “character” and her acting skills are amazing. Excited to see it

      • Teri

        Nothing against Zoe (I think she is a fantastic actress) but I would have liked to have seen Viola Davis in this role. I’m still going to go see the movie. I’m supporting gifted actresses no matter how light or dark their skin is.

      • NONEYA

        Viola Davis, Jennifer Hudson, Gabrielle Union,Sanaa Lathan, Mary J Blige, Anjuane Ellis etc etc

        • thirtythoughts

          Viola is old. Gabrielle Union cannot act to save her life, Mary J is not an actress, Jennifer Hudson is a singer and really isn’t a great actress either. Sanaa Lathan is the only reasonable person you mentioned, but why not Zoe?? Just because these girls are brown-skinned doesn’t qualify them to play a role in a film. Black people kill me with this colorism issue. One minute you’re cursing men who prefer lighter women or even bring up the issue of skin tone, and the next you’re slamming a woman just because she’s a little lighter than the person she’s set to play.

          • I know exactly what it is. Blk/w (not all) see zoe as a white-washed black girl,thus they can`t relate to her as such.

            • thirtythoughts

              What makes her white-washed? Because she dates white men?? Would Black men call a Black man who dates White women white-washed? Kanye? Ice-T? Lil Wayne? Obviously I can go on…

              • Those guys are “hood”.Bad examples.If you would have said Bryant Gumble,Alfonso Riebero,you would of made your point.Zoe lacks the “sista-gurl” element about her.YOU brought up her dating habits.So You read something in my comment that wasn`t there.She “acts” like a white girl.Does that clarify my statement for you?

                • thirtythoughts

                  It doesn’t matter…do I really need to list ALL the black men that date white women to make my point? Furthermore, what is “acting” white? Who needs a sista-gurl element anyway?? Nina Simone spoke French and loved the French culture, so by your statement, she would probably be missing the sista-gurl element too aside from her looks. I was asking why anyone would say she’s white-washed, not reading into your comment, dear.

                  • Listen,point-blank ,this whole “controversy” is because BLACK WOMEN disprove of zoe playing this role.Not one man of ANY race has shown the outright contempt that she has received.So you can come to your own conclusions,i`m just giving you MY perspective.And with that said, I will bow-out of this subject.good day to you.

                    • DaisyDooks

                      “this whole “controversy” is because BLACK WOMEN disprove of zoe playing this role.” <<—-EXACTLY! Yes, we disapprove of the casting of Zoe for Nina Simone.

          • Jay

            Your comment is the truth one minute people are complaining about other people’s preference calling it discrimination and the next minute they are discriminating themselves. The part should go to the actress that best fits the part and being that they picked her tells me she best fit the part. People keep throwing out Viola Davis name but did she even want the part? Black people are forever hating!

            • thirtythoughts

              It’s really getting old, this issue of skin color and “good hair.” Smh and WE do this! The negative backlash from Zoe playing the role is overshadowing the entire film, which is what saddens me the most. Let the girl play the part and shut up!

          • Well your comments are definitely thirsty just like your screen name. SMH!

      • Please she couldn’t act her way out of a plastic huggie bag! All she does is huff and whine probably because she can never eat. And for Avatar please she was a stupid smurf come to life and that movie was long and boring. They needed a REAL actress and only chose her because she is pretty.

      • Tolani

        Adepero Oduye or Kimberly Elise would be my top two choices.

      • DaisyDooks

        You might want to check out racebending[dot]com.

  • sammi_lu

    Ok I guess it’s not as bad as I anticipated.. the skin darkening and the wig trim will pass it’s not the best but it’s not the worst. Even looks like they had Zoe put a little weight on too she doesn’t look as gaunt as she normally does.