All Articles Tagged "nina simone"
In Zoe Saldana’s recent Allureinterview, the Afro-Latina female actor has once again stated that she is unconcerned with any backlash she receives for playing legendary singer and activist Nina Simone. In a perplexing statement, she compares her controversial casting as “The High Priestess of Soul” to Elizabeth Taylor playing Egyptian Queen Cleopatra VII in the 1960s.
“Let me tell you, if Elizabeth Taylor can be Cleopatra, I can be Nina — I’m sorry,” Saldana, 34, said unrepentantly. “It doesn’t matter how much backlash I will get for it. I will honor and respect my black community because that’s who I am.”
Who Saldana is may be clear to her, but her understanding of who Nina Simone was and from where the criticism stems appears to be minimal.
Saldana: Out of touch with African-American audiences?
Contrary to Saldana’s personal beliefs, the vast majority of observers who have weighed in on director Cynthia Mort’s decision to cast Saldana, from India.Arie to Nina Simone’s daughter, Simone Kelly, are black and view it as the ultimate show of disrespect. Not only because it is an aesthetically horrific choice that relies on blackface and prosthetics to pull off, but because Nina’s rich, dark skin, kinky hair and full lips shaped her life’s experiences, subsequently shaping her music.
Nina Simone would not have been able to conjure “Mississippi Goddam” and “Four Women” from the depths of her soul had she been born with more European features and straighter hair.
Further, it is both fitting and unsettling for Saldana to compare herself to Taylor. Cleopatra, whose black African heritage has been passionately argued for and against, has been described as both “tawny” by Shakespeare and a “negress” in some historical texts. For Saldana to claim that casting the extremely pale Elizabeth Taylor to play her somehow justifies her own misguided role as Nina Simone is a slap in the face of the black community she claims to represent.
Her history of ignoring racial history
And this is not Saldana’s first time brushing off criticism as inconsequential.
“What keeps me focused and what kept me from getting stressed from being hurt by the comments is I’m doing it for my sisters, I’m doing it for my brothers, and I don’t care who tells me I am not this and I am not that. I know who I am, and I know what Nina Simone means to me,” Saldana said in an interview with HipHollywood.com.
“I can only rely on that and maintain as much humility as possible, so that when I have to face the world and we 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. And Nina was like that too. I did it all out of love for my people and my pride of being a black woman and a Latina woman and an American woman, and that’s my truth.”
Colorist privilege with questionable consequences
That curious blend of arrogance and accessibility seems to be the root of criticism aimed at Saldana. She is not embracing her community; she is saying through her dismissiveness that how we feel doesn’t matter. By ignoring the hurt of Nina’s family and the pain of black women who have been deemed too dark, too heavy, too ugly to be portrayed on film as anything other than maids, slaves, and whores, Saldana becomes part of the problem.
Read more on TheGrio.com.
Don’t Knock It Until You See It: Celebs Who Were Side-Eyed For Biopics Because They Didn’t “Look” The Part
Before Zoe Saldana signed on to play Nina Simone, or Idris Elba said he would try his hand at doing Nelson Mandela, or even before there was any kind of talk of Lenny Kravitz playing Marvin Gaye (which he eventually changed his mind about), actors were getting major side-eyes from movie fans and critics alike for trying to portray certain people on-screen. It’s always going to be something, and it has always been something for people to complain about: She’s too light, she’s not the same culture as that person, he’s not light enough, he’s not cool enough. People are often shut down by folks before there’s a trailer, a scene–anything to judge by. But as these actors went on to prove (some didn’t though), talent can trump a lot of that criticism. Here are nine people who initially were counted out from their biopic roles but ended up either killing it, or embarrassing themselves.
Tags:Angela Bassett as Tina Turner, Anthony Mackie as Tupac, backlash for biopics, Beyonce as Etta James, biopics, Denzel Washington as Malcolm X, Don Cheadle as Sammy Davis Jr, Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford, Idris Elba, JLo as Selena, Naturi Naughton as Lil Kim, Nelson Mandela, nina simone, Zoe Saldana
Zoe Saldana Talks About Being Tired Of Discussing Her Ethnicity, The Nina Simone Backlash And Bisexuality
Zoe’s name has been a little bit of everywhere this week. If it’s not for appearing undressed on the cover of Allure, having her 115-pound weight exposed to the world, it’s for claiming she might settle down with a woman later in life. Has she really said anything about Star Trek 2 Into Darkness yet?
Anywho, while being interviewed by BET.com, the actress discussed why she’s so uncomfortable with people always asking about her ethnicity, why she doesn’t appreciate people trying to categorize her, and why she can understand the Nina Simone backlash, but why it also hurt her. Here are the tidbits that had us talking:
Why she’s sick and tired of talking about her ethnicity and race:
“I find it uncomfortable to have to speak about my identity all of the time, when in reality it’s not something that drives me or wakes me up out of bed every day. I didn’t grow up in a household where I was categorized by my mother. I was just Zoe and I could have and be anything that I ever wanted to do…and every human being is the same as you. So to all of a sudden leave your household and have people always ask you, “What are you? What are you?” is the most uncomfortable question sometimes and it’s literally the most repetitive question. Because I can’t wait to be in a world where people are sized by their soul and how much they can contribute as individuals and not what they look like.
…I feel like as a race, that’s a minute problem against the problems we face just as women versus men, in a world that’s more geared and designed to cater towards the male species.”
On the rumors that she is bisexual after her statements in Allure:
“It’s again, I’m telling you, the saddest situation. I encourage every human being to spend one hour a day without categorizing and stereotyping anything, or using any titles. It is almost impossible for us to get through one cache without having to go, ‘Is she Mexican? Is she gay? What kind of car does she drive?’ Our lives are going to slip and we are never going to grow and realize that it’s so much more beauty in this earth and so many more things that are important besides stereotyping ourselves and limiting ourselves just by putting ourselves in little boxes.
That said, I’m an artist and if I was to limit myself as an artist and go, ‘As a an artist, I can only like feminine art because I’m a woman,’ I’d be the stupidest person on earth and I wouldn’t be an artist at all. If I look at beauty, I’m going to love and admire beauty no matter if it comes in the form of a masculine essence or a feminine essence. Beauty is beauty. So, up until now, I’ve known my life to be with men, I’ve been attracted to the male species, but if one day I wake up and I want to be with a woman, I’m going to do that. And I know I am going to be supported by the creatures that have raised me and love me and know me.”
And of course, her thoughts on people being very vocal about their disdain for the lengths she was going to in order to play Nina Simone:
“All I can say is, though it did sting for a bit, that a community that you feel most identified with, would have such a negative backlash and you are at the epicenter of it all, it was very disappointing. But at the same time too, it is understandable. All I can say is the people that came together to do Nina, came together out of love for Nina and that will never be wrong, and I will always stand behind that.”
Good points. Check out the full interview and series of videos from her sit-down where she looked visibly uncomfortable over at BET.com.
Zoe Saldana Isn’t Allowing Your Opinions About The Nina Simone Biopic To Deter Her, Says She’s Doing It For Her ‘People’
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.
Nina Simone, who would’ve turned 80 on February 21, was a strong and vocal civil rights advocate who carried the message of universal rights and personal empowerment, freedom, equality and dignity throughout her career. Whether it was political or emotional or personal, she never failed to tell the truth through her music.
One of the most powerful and uncompromising artists of the 20th century, Nina Simone was a natural talent who developed into a virtuosic performer–an ineffable song stylist with concert hall piano skills and a transcendental on-stage presence. Singer, songwriter, arranger, and pianist, Nina wove classical, blues, jazz, pop, rock, R&B, folk, gospel, torch songs and world music into a body of work as eclectic as it is incomparable.
In 2008, Legacy Recordings released To Be Free: The Nina Simone Story, a deluxe four-disc (three CDs + DVD) box set that stands as the most comprehensive and wide-ranging collection of Nina Simone’s music ever compiled, and now you have a chance to win the collection yourself! Containing 51 audio tracks – eight of them previously unreleased – the collection covered her recording years from 1957 to 1993 for the Bethlehem, Colpix, Philips, RCA (for whom she cut nine LPs that are considered the pinnacle of her output), CTI, and Elektra record labels, plus another nine performances on the 23-minute documentary DVD.
To win this deluxe commemorative collection, you must do the following:
It’s a new dawn, a new day, a new life, and a new year. We hope you’re all feeling good! Happy New Year ladies!
Colorism Issues On-Screen: If Zoe Saldana Is A No No To Play Nina Simone, Is Lenny Kravitz A Hell No To Play Marvin Gaye?
Light-skinned Rocker Lenny Kravitz is rumored to be playing the late great dark brown skinned “Sexual Healing” crooner, Marvin Gaye, in a biopic about his life, this according to published reports.
According to The Huffington Post:
The project is directed by Julian Temple, known for his documentary “London: The Modern Babylon” as well as “Absolute Beginners.” Temple also has plenty of experience with bringing music to the big screen, having directed a number of movies about the Sex Pistols. The Gaye movie will center on the soul singer’s later years. Gaye, as NME notes, battled alcoholism and nasty tax issues while living in London.
Okay so let’s get to the heart of the issue: they couldn’t cast an actor/singer with a similar hue and physical features to carry the role of Gaye?
Yes, we are discussing this again, especially in lieu of Hollywood’s soon-to-be-released biopic of Nina Simone, a dark-skinned singer, pianist, and civil rights activist, whose liken will be attempted on screen by the brown-skinned yet racially ambiguous Zoe Saldana. Pictures have been circulating around online showing Saldana on the set of the film in darker foundation and wearing a prosthetic nose and fake teeth, which all had to be added to mimic Simone’s naturally African features. This issue, for obvious reasons, has struck a chord with many folks in the black community who feel that the production team behind this flick should have gone with an actress of the same shade and physical characteristics.
Let’s be real: actresses like Kimberly Elise, Adepero Oduye (Pariah) and Viola Davis are just a few names who are as talented as a Saldana yet better physically matched to be cast as Simone. The production team could have hired one of them and saved the blackface we see in those pictures.
“I hear you but why is it that nobody had a problem when Laurence Fishburne played Ike Turner or Denzel played Malcolm X? I understand why you ladies are upset but then again aren’t we being a bit hypocritical?” asked some dude I was debating with recently via a Facebook thread. It’s a provocative question considering that when it comes to public discussion around colorism, the emphasis is mostly on how black women are aesthetically perceived, especially through the lense of color. Yet self-esteem issues related to colorism – particularly the whitewashing of darker skinned people in the media – also does have an impact on black men that’s not being discussed.
Actor Taye Diggs spoke candidly about insults he incurred as a child for the color of his skin, particularly being passed over for light-skinned boys by young women in high school. But he did say that seeing more darker-skinned men on television helped to raise his self-esteem. “I’m still trying to figure out how this came to be. For me, when I saw Tyson Beckford hailed as this beautiful man by all people, that caused a shift in my being. And I remember literally waking up and walking the streets feeling a little bit more proud,” he told My Brown Baby.
However, I don’t think that women care more about it when colorism strikes out at women or that women tend to be more protective of our image, thus more vocal about any attempts to misrepresent it. I know there were a few eyebrows raised, including my own, at the casting of light-skinned, gray-eyed Terrence Howard as Nelson Mandela in the soon-to-be-released Winnie. Therefore, it wouldn’t be fair to say that we as a community have been totally obtuse to the whitewashing of black men in the media. And it doesn’t mean that we critique these images less, if anything, we critique them more.
And just to be clear: this is more than a light-skinned/dark-skinned thing. It is an issue about continuity. Actors, who play real life historical figures, should probably resemble the person they are trying to recreate on screen, including black people. Unlike popular opinion, black folks are not interchangeable. That’s just like remaking Lassie, the old film and television show about a smart white boy saving Collie dog, and casting a pit bull named Cocaine in his place. Even if the show is remotely entertaining, we all know that this dog ain’t Lassie.
And Kravitz is definitely that pitbull. When I think of Marvin Gaye, I think of “I Want You”; “Distant Lover”; his many duets with Tammi Terrell, his Trouble Man soundtrack; his panty-tossing/drawers-dropping rendition of the national anthem at the 1983 NBA All Star Game and his chocolate-complexion on the cover of the What’s Going On album. I just don’t see Kravitz being that. Now Neo-soul singer Bilal or Jesse L. Martin, who was once rumored to play Gaye in another biopic? I can see that.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Denzel Washington said that the best advice he has given to his aspiring actress daughter Olivia is, ‘You’re black, you’re a woman, and you’re dark-skinned at that. So you have to be a triple/quadruple threat…You gotta learn how to act. You gotta learn how to dance, sing, move onstage. That’s the only place, in my humble opinion, you really learn how to act.’
The Academy award winning actor went on to say, ‘Look at Viola Davis. That’s who you want to be. Forget about the little pretty girls; if you’re relying on that, when you hit 40, you’re out the door. You better have some chops.’
And somewhere across this planet, Viola Davis is like, “Gheez, thanks a lot Denzel!” But that’s the thing about Denzel. Even if it was meant as a back-handed slam against Davis, which I doubt it was, nobody would say anything because it is Denzel we’re talking about. He can do or say no wrong. However was he right to tell his daughter that she would have to work harder because of the color of her skin or is he just setting her for a lifetime of victimhood?
As famous parents go, you could not be as better situated than being the child of Denzel and Paulette Washington. Award winning actor, who was recently dubbed one of People Magazine’s sexiest men alive, Denzel should have the professional pull and connections needed to get Olivia at least started in a career in Hollywood. At the very least a Dark & Lovely No Lye Relaxer commercial on BET should be in her future. Or maybe not. Maybe everything we all suspected about Hollywood’s race and gender relations is true. I mean, it is no wonder that Halle Berry, Beyoncé and Alicia Keys, three women with lighter skin and more Caucasian features, top the list of the most sought after black stars. Even darker hued stars like Kim Wayans, Regina King and even super producer It-Girl Shonda Rhimes have all commented on the scarcities of black roles given to black actresses in general.
And let’s not forgot that only in Hollywood, would it seem okay for Zoe Saldana to portray Nina Simone. Not that Saldana is not a capable actress but Simone’s dark skin and African features were the essence of her public and personal identity. SO much so that she actually wrote songs about it. So slapping some dark foundation and a prosthetic nose on any ole’ black woman without concern of continuity to the subject matter, just screams of whitewashing. Maybe I’m wrong. But until we see Idris Elba or Djimon Hounsou play Jesus Christ in The Temptation of Christ Part 2, I will always have my doubts.
But this is the untold truth of what it is like living under white supremacy. And in this regard, Washington is right to prepare his children for the realities of our society. It’s the same advice that black parents have been giving their children for hundreds of years. So you want to make partner at your prestigious law firm, be prepared to work ten times harder than your white colleagues because you are black. And you want to make a name for yourself in the business world, well be prepared to compromise on a lot of your cultural identity. Want to be the next (formerly the first) black president, be prepared to eat lots of racial Isht, while baring and grinning, in the process.
At the same time, I’m sick of living and abiding by that world. I’m tired of telling our children to submit and to accept the idea that subjugation is a permanent state, in which they are powerless to change it. I would have preferred that his public message of advice for his daughter was that she was loved and supported. And that her talent and beauty is bigger than the status quo, therefore there is no need to continue to support in any capacity a system that devalues, ignores and misrepresents your image.
That’s what I would prefer him to say. But it is Denzel and he can do no wrong.
In the midst of creating a laundry list of reasons why Zoe Saldana should not play Nina Simone in the upcoming controversial biopic on the singer, people have been throwing out a number of more suitable, shall we say, actresses who could have played the part. Among the numerous suggestions, India Aire’s name has consistently been included in the pool of potential replacements should director Cynthia Mort have a wake up call, and for the first time the neo-soul singer is speaking out on how she feels about this entire project.
In a post on NinaSimone.com, India put forth some rather candid opinions about the casting of this film, but more so the attempt to make Zoe over into Nina, which after seeing pics of the transformation, India says is utterly “ridiculous.”
People have been asking me for weeks, months, years about a Nina Simone movie, when I heard about Zoe Saldana being cast I reserved judgement, you NEVER know what People are MEANT to do.
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?
If they were going to pick a person who looks NOTHING like Nina Simone … why not her daughter Simone *shrug* just saying …
As hard as Nina had to fight for what she wanted BECAUSE she was black and looked the way she did … THIS looks like a parody. If it has to be FORCED this hard something’s not right!
I am VERY opinionated about music, I can dissect VOCALS ALL DAY, I don’t KNOW ACTING LIKE THAT! But I trust that through her obvious admiration of Nina, that Zoe Saldana can pull off the portrayal ENERGETICALLY …
But these images … just make me feel … SAD. Not because I want to play Nina Simone but because IT FEELS OUT OF PLACE WITH WHAT NINA SIMONE MEANS IN AN AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORICAL CONTEXT!!!! (yes I yelled just now – I am emotional about OTHER things today, and I’m riding the wave of that, but this IS WHAT I FEEL…)
I have always been OPEN to playing Nina, but I never saw its as my RIGHT!
I am clearly Nina Simone’s Physical Heir Apparent, THAT doesn’t mean I SHOULD play her, its been tossed around A LOT, for a LONG TIME. I back down because I feel her legacy deserves better than a FIRST TIME MOVIE ACTRESS, I’m like that about my heroes. If I ever FELT I was truly CALLED to play her, I would. And maybe Zoe Saldana REALLY is BEING CALLED SPIRITUALLY TO PLAY THIS ROLE …
But I DO NOT LIKE these PICTURES. AT ALL.
SEEING Nina Simone changed my life, when I was 17 My cousin and I tried to call her … Whole NOTHER story ….
I will END this by saying I think VIOLA DAVIS should be playing Nina Simone.
I don’t think there’s much else to say. Do you agree with India’s sentiments?
From Eur Web
Actress Zoe Saldana, currently filming the lead role in a Nina Simone biopic, has been tapped to front ads for the new “My Look” service from eyewear chain LensCrafters.
“My Look” offers customers the chance to try on four frames and take high-definition pictures with each, comparing the images side-by-side.
Read more at EurWeb.com.