Zoe Saldana Isn’t Allowing Your Opinions About The Nina Simone Biopic To Deter Her, Says She’s Doing It For Her ‘People’

February 27, 2013  |  

Source: WENN

Actress Zoe Saldana has been forced to bear the brunt of much criticism since it was announced that she was the actress selected to play iconic singer Nina Simone  in the long-awaited motion picture about her life. Fans and celebrities alike have publicly voiced their disapproval of Zoe assuming the role of the singer, especially when photos of the actress on the movie set, all dressed up (and painted up) in her Nina costume surfaced.

“So today I saw the images of Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone… and I think they are ridiculous! Yes there should be a movie made, and YES they should have chosen someone who LOOKS like Nina Simone, ESPECIALLY since her RACE played such a PIVOTAL role in WHO, WHAT and WHY, she was. THAT ASIDE for a second, this just looks WEIRD, it looks like a person in Black(er) face with a fake nose … REALLY?!!!! DOES NOT THE ONE NINA SIMONE’S LEGACY DESERVE BETTER THAN THIS?” singer India Arie expressed.

While public frustration can certainly be understood, Zoe has been hired to play the role of Nina Simone and she still has a job to do, whether we like it or not. Hip Hollywood recently caught up with the actress to discuss the intense level of criticism that she has received for her role in the biopic. Here’s what she had to say:

“The reality is what keeps me focused and what kept me from I guess getting stressed or being hurt by the comments is that I’m doing it for my sisters. I’m doing it for my brothers. I don’t care who tells me that I am not this and I am not that. I know who I am and I know what Nina Simone means to me. So that is my truth and that set me free. You know, I can only rely on that and maintain as much humility as possible so that when I have to face the world and I have to then give the movie to the world to see and share it with them, that if it comes back in a negative fashion or positive, I’m gonna keep my chin up because that’s who I am and that’s who I’ll be and Nina was like that too. So I did it all out of love, out of love for Nina, out of love for my people and who I am and my pride of being Black woman and a Latina woman and an American woman and that’s my truth.”

What are your thoughts on Zoe’s response? Does she make valid points or did she totally miss the reason why people are upset?

You can check out a clip of Zoe’s interview on the next page.

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  • MiMi

    I’m Panamanian american and African american. The ignorance about their own race that I hear from both people is just really sad. It’s really sad to see that no matter where you are from, black people, a good MAJORITY of them are ignorant about their own race, and the diaspora. The insecurity on both side, the colorism issues on both sides, the self hate on both sides, the discrimination against your own people on both sides, it’s just really sad. I love Zoe, she is perfect for this part and not only understand’s Nina’s struggle, but still goes through it as an Afro latina while African americans can only reflect on what their ancestors went through, in latin america this STILL goes on today. You don’t know the first thing about a real struggle you just cry for your ancestors, but take your hateful asses to latin america and see if you don’t want to come crawling back here. The ignorance and arrogance and hatefulness of black americans just makes me sick to my stomach.

  • Brooklyn@Lex

    There’s no such thing as an afro-latina. Zoe speaks the Spanish language and like most of us in the Diaspora has some European and Indigenous Indian ancestors. The Zoe even decided to take the role of Nina Simone illustrates how her racism has taken on a weird pathology.

    The main thing is I believe we need to get off the plantation once and for all and stop relying on Hollywood to tell our stories about our people…wherever in the world our people may be. We live in the Digital & DIY age. We have all the tools necessary to research, write, develop and cast our own films – and the music to with them. For now we may not be able to see our films at the local cinema – ironically at least not in America! – but we can build our own theaters. In the interim we can support these films online or say on BET or create a network that allows us to do that. And think of all the jobs we’d create for ourselves! Come on y’all, it’s 2013. Alkebulan is on the move, on the rise again, let’s not get left behind.

  • Ifuaskme2

    But can she SING?

  • The best way to show outrage in a situation like this is to NOT SUPPORT IT. If people go and watch the film, the directors make their money and then they will move on to the next misrepresentation of an African American. That sad part about this whole situation though, is that the main people protesting this are going to go watch this just to hate on it.

  • India Arie’s behind is just mad that she wasn’t cast…..being that they damn near look alike…and she can sing…but Zoe got that part…end of story…we can’t change it so why whine about it?

  • Bubbles

    Nina Simone was a beauty and a musical genius, she deserves to have her biopic made. I don’t agree with the directors not consulting the family, they should have had a big voice in this production. I believe that in order to make this movie work, Zoe is going to have to prove herself and act like she has never done before. This role will either make her or break her because, this role goes into the struggle of Simone heart and soul. I pray she represents it because she has all eyes on her now that she is playing this role. I feel that this is a test and she is going to have to prove that she can portray Simone. We shall she, prove us wrong and show us what you got Zoe.

  • Mya

    I really do think Zoe is very sincere. When I watched this interview on youtube, she looked very hurt. I do believe it was the wrong choice to choose her as Nina (appearance wise) but I also do believe she is capable of giving a strong acting performance. Zoe has proved herself in the acting world (of course in star trek and avatar) of being able to embody different characters…. Just give Zoe a chance ACTING WISE (I do believe it was wrong that they altered Zoe’s appearance to make her appear darker skinned) before you go completely against her and maybe you’ll be really surprised.

    • Zoe was in tears, what about the tears from Nina Simone’s daughter, Simone, and her brother and grandchildren. How would you feel if your mother spent her whole life, being told that she wasnn’t beautiful because she looked like a negro. Big dark black, big lips, big nose, nappy hair. And your mother only survived through turning that pain into love and pride of her race. I don’t care what anybody says, Nina wasn’t considered a beautiful woman to the world. And she knew that, now when she died, lher life story is being told but through the face of a woman that is considered beautiful to the world. So, Nina Simone is only good for her talent but not her face. Now, what kind of psychological damage do you think that is doing to her daugther. All girls look up to their mothers. So put yourself in Simone’s shoes, dealing with that , and having to sit back and watch the media, and Hollywod tell you and the world that your mom wasn’t good enough. And to realize that the actress is portraying your mom with something that looks like spray paint, an afro wig, and prosthetic nose. The make up, and wig looks more like a joke , and not a complliment. So, put yourself in Simone’s shoes. You don’t think she had to grow up listening to people laugh and mock her mom’s features, you don’t think she heard stories from her mom, or uncle discussing how her mom was laughed at and mocked as a child and young adult for being “too black, big lips, big nose, wide butt. Ok, I feel bad for Zoe, but I can only imagined the decades of trauma the Simone family faced. But everybody feelings is more important than their feelings, because afterall , we should give someone a chance. So since the reality of Nina Simone physical being isn’t a factor, please go to every black girl, from a child and up, who’s dark black, big or fat, nappy hair big lips ,etc, and tell them go out and become a talent the world will covet, tell them your a genius but you are not beautiful, in fact ugly, and when Hollywood decides to tell your story, they will use the biracial, fair complexion , skinny girl to play you, because she’s beautiful and you’re not. Putting this movie out, will do more harm than good, for little black girls who look like Nina. This is why I’m up in arms. Black girls have enough issues with low self-esteem.

      • Yah

        Dr. King, Betty Shabazz, Rosa Parks and Malcolm X spent their whole lives being told they were less-than, ugly, undeserving, and to be hated sImply because of their features and skin tone. But the actors and actresses who portrayed them in movies (Jeffrey Wright, Mary J. Blige, Angela Basset, and Denzel) never suffered what they suffered. They are ACTORS, they are not supposed to ACTUALLY be assassinated, or ACTUALLY called ugly, or ACTUALLY suffer, etc. They are PORTRAYING a time in history to tell a story of someone’s life. So the role of Nina is open to any Black actress who can play her in my opinion, and Zoe fits the bill.

        Besides, Nina Simone is NOT the poster-child for dark-skinned Black women. A lot of dark-skin Black women who looked nothing like Simone and were considered absolutely beautiful were still called the same hurtful names as Nina Simone simply because of the racial attitudes and hate of the time.

        This whole witch hunt against a non-light skinned Black woman such as Zoe Saldana stinks of artificiality and reeks of many of our own insecurities as Black women. Plain and simple.

        Seriously. Examine yourself and you’ll see that all of this hateratious reaction to the Nina Simone casting choice is based on the fact that in the last few years Black women have been dissed roundly by all types of people, including and mainly by Black men, for absolutely no reason other than being Black American (and say, not Black latina, or certain African groups).

        And because of it, we’ve become insecure and now taking out those insecurities on other Black women who don’t fit into some weird, strict and artificial Black-litmus-test.

      • Yah

        “big or fat, nappy hair big lips ,” well geesh, with descriptives like that , i see why! your words do NOT represent the majority of dark skinned black girls. sorry that you think so lowly of yourself and your race to feel the need to use such negative wording to describe simone.

        nina was velvety chocolate skinned, thick and figureful (not big or fat), nina had full lips (not big thick lips), nina had kinky, tightly coiled hair (not nappy hair). the words you use sound like the words from a racist minstrel show about black people, sorry.

        didn’t anyone ever teach you about the power of words? if dark-skinned women and nina simone are beautiful and worthy to you, then describe them with beautiful terminology, not with the negative, ugly terminology you used.

  • COME ON! This is WRONG on so many levels. I won’t even speak on it because everybody has already said exactly what I feel. But I will say this…they didn’t even have to go far to find someone to play Nina. My first choice – Estelle. My second choice – India Arie. I’m sure there are others. This is a joke, and I for one will NOT be going to see it.

  • L-Boogie

    Congratulations, Zoe. Very proud of you.

  • eddie

    Think about this: Zoe says she does it for her people. Who are your people? It’s funny how when it comes to doing something for your “people” everybody wants to act like they really doing it for they people when they get paid to pose as puppets for the elite. Then turn around and stays dating outside “their” race. I wouldn’t do anything for black people and say its for them when I don’t have any intimate relationships with them.

  • Jay Lane

    Zoe, just stop. This isn’t even really about you as much as it is about the constant misrepresentation of our community [and its members] by the entertainment industry. You’re just the pawn they’re using this time to promote and satisfy a more euro centric palate. Don’t think so? Then why is it that travesties like this happen all the time but they NEVER cast darker than the original subject?

    • Suchalady

      Thank you. She’s making it sound as if this is a personal attack. This
      isn’t about her. If they had gotten an unknown who looked just like Zoe
      to play this role, people would still be upset. The fact of the matter is that they are making immense and tacky alterations to Zoe when they could have gotten an actress that not only looks like Nina but would understand her struggle.

      • Yah

        the majority pf the attacks ARE personal. i can see why she feels that way.

  • teisharansom

    Zoe! Shut up. If a movie can’t be done right then it shouldn’t be done. Whatever happened to opening a book about her legacy. Or it being taught in music schools. That’s how you keep Nina’s humility alive. Some things should be left alone.

  • CC

    I’m not here to bash Saldana for HER choice, but the casting team and director did screw this one up!!! Someone on another site (The Grio) mentioned Kimberly Elise and I think she would be a great catch for this movie. Phenomenal actress, doesn’t completely look like her but at least she’s much closer to physique than Saldana. Also I do think they should respect the singers wishes as well as her loved one’s opinions.

    • MissRealuminatti

      I LOVE Kimberly Elise. She is such a good actress that never gets the attention and work she deserves.

      • CC

        You’re right, from past to present she had delivered role after role flawlessly!!!!! I think Saldana is a great actress but she needs to stick to the action movies for now until she gets a few more notches on her belt. Love me some Columbiana 😉

  • And for black actresses to defend this movie, when they are still playing glorified mammies in 2013, proves the reason why they would never hold a candle to the black actresses of the past, who played the mammy because of racial limitations, and not by choice. I’m done with black hollywood for not speaking out against this movie, after all Nina Simone did for black women in Hollywood, she deserved better than silence. But, a movie like Django gets black Hollywood opinionated. When that was fiction, but a soldier is being tarnished, and they are silent. Sad, no wonder the Oscars honor them for being maids, and criminals, or entertainers.

    • Yah

      when did Zoe become non-Black?

  • Nina Simone before she died said she wanted Whoopi Goldberg and Lauryn Hill to play her in a biopic. Her daughter is against the film and Zoe’s portrayal. At the end of the day, Simone, Nina’s daughter and brother are against the film, the estate is against it, the fans are against it. This movie, and Zoe portrayal is a disgrace to the memory of Nina Simone. This is the same woman that blame Michael Jackson’s family for changing him into what he became. This is the same woman that said in tears in a documentary that her life was because she did it for her people. She was an extremist when it came to afrocentricism. She proudly embraced her big lips, big nose,wide hips, dark blueberry skin. So how dare anyone take her struggle and trivilize it , and make it into a caricature, because she had a beautiful voice. If her own family is against it, that says alot. I’ve lost respect for Zoe. Anybody who is for this film and Zoe’s part, please read and watch her interviews, and her autobiography. Nina was a blantantly honest woman who had a passion for her black race. Sure, Zoe is black, but she’s like Halle Berry neither can understand an ounce of what this woman went through in an world, that told her she wasn’t a woman worthy of anything. Zoe can’t understand the pain and torment Nina had to go through, and for anyone to defend this casting just proves how far remove black people are from our place in this world.

    • Laine

      I can understand some of what you are saying..But why, why be mad at Zoe ?? What was she supposed to do..? Refuse the role..? Why not be mad at the person in charge of casting, the director of the movie etc. And because Zoe, in your opinion can’t relate to Nina’s struggle in real life, she can’t play her..? It’s called acting!!! She is an actress.. !

      • I am disgusted by everyone involved in making this film, especially when the family is against it, and knowing how people are so passionately against it, don’t insult Nina because it’s only acting. and no i wouldn’t be offended by zoe saying she’s too light to play, just like i wasn’t insulted when halle berry said she didn’t want to play aretha.And i have address being upset with the director, on twitter and blogs, and signed the petition. And yes, Nina’s life is more than tryfng to relate to her pain, one should be able to automatically identify with her reality.

        • Laine

          Halle did not want to play Aretha, because she felt that she wasn’t a good enough singer… not because she felt that she wasn’t “black” enough… I understand Nina’s struggle, I know that “colorism” is still alive and well in a lot of societies. But aren’t we keeping “colorism” alive when we are stating that someone can’t play a role, can’t play a character because of their skintone? I feel that it’s the same thing Nina was struggling with, but then reversed.. Nina wasn’t light enough, Zoe isn’t black enough. Don’t get me wrong, if, and I repeat if, (because we don’t know that for sure), the filmmakers casted Zoe just so that the movie can be more appealing to “the masses”, then that’s wrong. But Africans come in all shades, with different nose shapes, hair curl patterns etc etc….And Zoe is playing it for her people,.. she is Afro- latina! Just like you her, your, and my ancestors were enslaved and brought from West Africa to the New world. Why treat her differently..?

      • MissRealuminatti

        But Zoe just trying to get an Oscar or critical claim because she is a mediocre actress in mediocre films.

    • Laine

      It would have been interesting if Zoe herself had refused the role, because “she was too light skinned to play Nina “… I have a feeling that that would also not have been acceptable… !!

    • Yah

      Blah blah blah…Goof for Zoe! She’ll do the damn thing! I’ll be watching as soon as it comes out.

  • Candacey Doris

    At this point i’m just waiting to see the movie. There’s nothing that can be done about casting, so i just hope she does a good job with her acting .

  • Pssssh!

    OUTRAGED. It’s insulting to the extraordinary life of NINA. It isn’t JUST about skin tone at all for me. It’s about the depth and range of an actress … Of course Zoe is talented but talented enough to play Nina, I dont think so. Also what made Nina powerful was not only her voice but HER LOOK! For her to have success and influence in her field as a darkskinned black women transforming the world with her music and talent who on top of that, did not fit the stereotypical mold of beauty at the time is powerful with in itself. ZOE … I’m sorry but no.

  • ieshapatterson

    rolls eyes* sorry,but i’m NOT happy with this.how hard would it have been to go and get an actress that ALREADY looked like nina?? even if it meant finding a new actress?? this movie is a joke and i doubt will make any money.

  • hollyw

    My thing is, the part that irks me the most about her playing this role isn’t even the Black face, prosthetics, the creators’ lack of respect of consulting Simone’s family, OR respect for Simone’s history as promoting dark brown skin when there was no love (beyond fetishism) at that time (and beyond, apparently)…I want to see her gain weight!

    Saldana has gotten progressively thinner since mainstreaming, and cannot be over 100lbs at this point. Fine, put the chalk on ya face. Fine, smack on the fake nose. But I’ll believe in her dedication for this role when I see her bust out this film 60lbs heavier!!

  • jhsting32

    My problem with Zoe Playing Nina was never about her Blackness. Zoe is an afro-latina. My problem is that it seems as though those in charge of the film never made an effort to portray Nina in her full essence. It was more about a big name. I would rather have someone that resembled Nina but I would also like her “true” story to be told and not some fabricated story line. There are already enough important events that happened in Nina’s life so there was no need to create any. I want to see Nina when I watch a film about her not Zoe attempting to play her. I want to get lost in the role of Nina and I don’t think that will happen with Zoe.

    • hollyw

      Agreed. Nina was a popular enough name to have made this a big seller, not to mention there were so many other options that just made more sense! Both in likeness and vocal ability. The creators of this film are either just lazy, or have no true understanding of Nina, which only makes me cringe to think what else they’re willing to change for the sake of popularity…