Stop Blaming Zoe Saldana For Your Issues With ‘Nina’

March 6, 2016  |  



When I first heard that actress Zoe Saldana would be the star of the upcoming biopic Nina, about the late iconic singer and activist Nina Simone, I was a bit confused. Like many, I couldn’t fathom why they’d prefer someone who would have to wear Blackface and prosthetic nose and teeth? Was there no other actresses deserving of such a role that was dark-skinned? But I soon after hearing the controversy over the widely criticized film and its star, I came to notion that Zoe Saldana isn’t the one who people should be side-eyeing or blaming for their issues with the film from the casting to the story itself, which has been said to falsely depict a romantic affair between Simone and her assistant Clifton Henderson, played by David Oyelowo.

Earlier this week, Saldana quoted Simone on Twitter with the singer’s official estate and legacy account replied, “Cool story but please take Nina’s name out of your mouth? For the rest of your life.”

Really, y’all? This is when I realized that the backlash had gone all wrong. While Simone’s brother Sam Waymon thinks Zoe Saldana should have “thought a thousand times” before taking on the role of the singing legend,  Nina’s sister offered kinder words.

“It’s unfortunate that Zoe Saldana is being attacked so viciously when she is someone who is part of a larger picture. It’s clear she brought her best to this project, but unfortunately she’s being attacked when she’s not responsible for any of the writing or the lies.”

“The movie is about a relationship between my mother and Clifton (Simone’s manager whom Kelly noted was a gay man) which never took place. They never had an amorous relationship. The project has been tainted from the very beginning. Clearly, it is not the truth about my mother’s life and everyone now knows that. This is not how you want your loved ones remembered.”

It’s certain that maybe Saldana wasn’t the right woman for this role, but I do believe that as a working actress in Hollywood, she did take on this role with the goal of highlighting a cultural icon in the Black community. Regardless of her mixed ethnic heritage (Puerto Rican and Dominican Republic) I believe she shouldn’t have been heavily criticized and attacked — even if people felt that she wasn’t “Black enough” or whatever. I mean, so what would have happened if they would have cast a white woman instead? Of course, I’m still a bit uneasy about the Blackface and fake nose, but it’s not as much of a so-called stretch as the story line.

 “Zoe Saldana delivers an exceptional and mesmerizing tribute to Nina Simone.  She gave her heart and soul to the role and displayed her extraordinary talent,” Robert L. Johnson, better known as Bob Johnson, founder of BET as well as RLJ Entertainment, the company that acquired the rights to distribute Nina last fall, said. “The most important thing is that creativity or quality of performance should never be judged on the basis of color, or ethnicity, or physical likeness. Quality entertainment should be measured by the sheer force of creativity and the commitment that an actor or actress brings to the performance.”

I agree and I still plan to see the movie regardless of what people say and the bad taste it has already put in people’s mouth. What about you? What are your thoughts on Saldana’s role as Nina Simone?

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