Last night, the black interwebs let out a collective, “WTF” when several sources began reporting that Dominican beauty Zoe Saldana would be replacing Mary J. Blige in an upcoming Nina Simone biopic.

While many wondered why Saldana (or Mary J. if we’re honest) was tapped for the role considering she looks nothing like the legendary jazz singer, the fervor caused by her casting reminded me, once again, of the importance of telling our own stories.

In the past few years Hollywood has consistently gotten it wrong when it comes to telling black women’s narratives. From the questionable choice of casting Thandie Newton as an Igbo woman in the film adaptation of the novel Half of a Yellow Sun and Jennifer Hudson as Winnie Mandela, to Jacqueline Fleming, a biracial woman, playing Harriet Tubman, when other people are in charge of portraying us, it seems like any brown face will do.

Although Saldana is a talented actress, inhabiting such a complex and iconic role as Nina Simone takes more than just talent. The actress chosen should not only be able to pull off her mannerisms, wit, and her signature spunk, but she should also look like her.

As our Nigerian sisters reminded us when they started a petition to recast Newton’s role as an Igbo woman, sometimes an actress’ color does indeed matter. If producers are going to make a film about Nina Simone—or any other iconic black woman–they need to pick someone who resembles her, not only in charisma but also in skin tone.

What do you think of Zoe Saldana playing Nina Simone? 

  • gg

    I’m just waiting to see who will be cast as the late Whitney Houston

  • hlbb

    *reads post*
    *kicks wall*
    Are they serious with this? Really?

  • Ms. Information

    Ok, who is going to start the petition for this movie?..I’ll sign….

  • Jade

    Isn’t Zoe Hispanic? ….fail

  • EB

    Sweet Sista Simone is rolling in her grave.

  • Blasè

    *sigh* here we go again…

    maybe the way to start looking at this situation, because I don’t believe hollywood will ever change, is: how about we write the script, fund ourselves to make the type of films we believe are better than what hollywood offers?

    because just because hollywood has made an awful Nina, Mandela, Half a Yellow Sun, Malcom X, etc, etc, etc

    it doesn’t mean we can’t make a better one.

    who feels it, knows it.

  • Patrick Konshents Brown

    I agree with all the comments left thus far. This is bull! I guess they’d be okay if Terrance Howard played frank sinatra in a movie…Color does matter.

  • Mariam

    I rolled my eyes when I saw the title of this post, thinking, “Here we go again. How many conversations do we have to have about ‘Hollywood’ and who’s in charge of telling ‘our’ stories?” But I have to agree with Britni on this one. The actress playing Nina Simone should look like her. The look is part of the character, and if the casting agency and the director are willing to put in the time, they could find several quality, as-yet unknown actresses who play the part and look it. Laziness. SMH.

  • Britni Danielle

    She is, but the fact that she’s Latina isn’t the issue. A darker-skinned Latina actress could pull it off if she had the acting chops and looked like Nina (after all, our Latina sisters are apart of the diaspora, too).

    The issue, for me is recasting black women WE know of as light(er) skinned. It becomes problematic and also feels like they are gradually trying to rewrite history.

    I mean, Harriet Tubman as a light-skinned woman? Word?

  • Loretta Parish

    If they go through with casting Zoe as Nina Simone they just might as well get ready for very, and I mean very low ticket sales. I’m curious to find out if family members of the late great Nina Simone have or had any say so of who will portray her. Why not cast someone who is not famous for the role? I’m just saying.

  • Blasè

    here we go again…

    how about we start responding to this in a different way. hollywood is never going to change.

    how about we start making these movies ourselves? just because hollywood has made a film about Nina Simone doesn’t mean we can’t make another film about her.

    who knows it, feels it.

  • Smilez_920

    Mary j or zoey wouldn’t be the right physical fit for this role. Hollywood doesn’t care about our story they just want to fill seats.

    Zoey Saldana just sold millions of tickets off columbiana , that’s probably why they picked her. Not saying its right but Hollywood is about selling out the box office

    The writers need to look for some unsigned talent who looks like her to play the role

  • Ms. Write


  • Jasmin

    Kimberly Elise should be cast to portray her. Lauryn Hill for God’s sake. Also, I really Erika Alexander as Maxine Shaw on living single. I honestly don’t know why she isn’t more popular than she is.

  • Jasmin

    oh yeah Kim Wayans would be great. Loved her in Pariah!

  • jamesfrmphilly

    nina simone was black…….

  • leelee

    Maybe I’m too optimistic, but I think she’ll surprise us. I think you all are being too harsh. Denzel looked NOTHING like Malcolm, yet portrayed him brilliantly. Calm down, people!

  • mrie

    at least it was a black man playing black man and not a latino (most who do not consider themselves black) or a mulatto portraying a black dark skin woman…….you’re not optimistic, you’re delusional

  • Pingback: Zoe Saldana to replace Mary J. Blige in Nina Simone in biopic? | theGrio

  • Amber Nefertari

    This article comes off as a bit ignorant. Zoe Saldana’s skintone and ethnicity has nothing to do with her casting of the role. First of all she is black just of Hispanic origin two she bares more of a resemblance to Nina Simone than Mary J Blige if you ask me. It really isn’t fair to make the statements that were made, Zoe Saldana I am sure could do a great job at Nina Simone. BTW since when was she lightskinned? She’s BROWN people!

  • Amber Nefertari

    You can’t be serious @ Mrie! You have alot of learning to do. Zoe said herself that she considers herself a black woman…being black and latino aren’t mutually exclusive look at Lala Vasquez for darn sakes! Comments like this make me upset because I happen to be a black person of West Indian and Hispanic descent does that makes me less qualified for the role of an African American if I were an actress? Come on dude!

  • Sick

    I would sure enough sign, because that is sooooo wrong!!!!!! She could never live up to Nina. No way, no how!!!!!! Zoe Saldana would never go bald!!!!!!!! If she plays her I won’t see it!!!!!!!!

  • Shirl

    Personally I’d like to see some new talent. Hollywood loves to recycle. It’s the same old same old. And Jasmin..Your suggestions were great. Not taking anything form Ms. Saldana but I’m sure there are a lot of hungry, talented, waiting to be discovered black actors out there that would do Ms. Simone proud.

  • Sick

    An actress who looks like her should play the role. They don’t get it. Nina was Nina during the sixties when the rallying cry was “Say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud.” Nina was an African Beauty, she was the sixties personified. Zoe is so not the right person. I tell you I won’t see it and none of you should either.

  • Toy Laster

    best comment thus far!

  • Yb


    Your ethnicity and culture does make you less qualified to play the role of a black American, just like my makes me less qualified to play the role of a west Indian or a hispanic.

    Though of the same race we have different cultures, histories, and origins. And that’s part of what make the diaspora so great.

    I as an AA should not promote and fashion my self as an Afro-Hispanic, or West Indian to play a role. It’s insensitive to those who are truly Carribean and Afri Latin and a case of cultural appropriation.

    As wonderful as Zoe is she is not a Black American and shouldn’t play the role of one. Just as Will Smith shouldn’t play the role of Bob Marley, and chiwetel ejiofor of a black American slave.

  • yearle

    I like Zoe, but I admit that I would prefer Lauryn Hill in this role. I think Lauryn more closely personifies all that was Nina. But let’s remember, Hollywood has always been big on box office draw, authenticity and truth be damned. *le sigh*…

  • Yolanda

    You took the words right out of my mouth. Hollyweird always tries to whitewash our stories a la Lolo Jones. Either tell it correctly or don’t do it at all. The skin Nina lived in was an integral part of who she is. We willingly put our stories, struggles, and legacies into others hands.

    It makes no sense.

  • B

    Zoe looks nothing like Nina Symone. Looks do matter. Why would I want someone who does not look like me playing me.

  • Jac

    I think an actor should resemble the real-life person they are to portray, it only makes sense. I don’t know anything about Nina Simone, but I can definitely see that Zoe Saldana and she look nothing alike.

  • wishful thinking

    Maybe just maybe she isn’t playing Nina…LOL

  • Andrea

    Christina Aguilera

  • binks

    Bingo! There is a lot of great up and coming actors/actresses or great actors/actresses still awaiting their big break because Hollywood keeps recycling the SAME people it is starting to get aggravating, like seriously they need to pass the torch to a new set. And Zoe Saldana is laughable to me as a pick, I just can’t see it.

  • Jaz


  • Ignorance is a bliss

    I couldn’t have say it better

  • Ignorance is a bliss


  • Cee Cee

    I think that skin color alone isn’t a reason that a person should be disqualified. Denzel Washington did an excellent job as Malcolm X and Denzel is significantly darker than Malcolm. Zoe has the cheeks like Nina and she is a good actress and I see potential.

  • Cee Cee

    So is Zoe.

  • Carol

    Haven’t read all the comments, but I will never understand the comments about Zoe when it comes to playing black women on screen. Yes, she has naturally straight hair, but as a brown skinned woman with a broad nose, I am always thrilled to see Zoe on screen, because she is one of the few black actresses with facial features that mirror my own.

  • DookieTurds

    You all are always fussing about something. I swear…..

  • Jaye

    Adepero Oduye would be great in this role.

  • Molly Barnes

    I am not sure who could play Nina Simone. I know Zoe is not the right fit, but then who?

  • PiscesStar7 (@PiscesStar7)

    …Actually, the actor’s skintone and ethnicity has a lot to do with the messages that are passed on to our young ones!

    The very fact that it is 2012 and black women are STILL hot-combing, relaxing, weaving, and wigging out their natural hair just to be considered attractive and/or professional goes to the high necessity for historical Black women to be portrayed exactly as they lived…or as much as possible…

    Ms. Saldana is a wonderful actor. I enjoyed her display of spirituality and intensity in Avatar. And, she was an AWESOME recreation of the Nyota Uhura character in Star Trek. However, as a fan of Nina Simone AND Zoe Saldana AND a dark-skinned African American woman, I would greatly appreciate the producers of this intended biopic to dig deeper, as those who produced “Ray” did, when they found Jamie Foxx.

  • PiscesStar7 (@PiscesStar7)

    Also, if you still don’t think it is neccessary for the producers to “go back to the drawing board” on this one…Please see the Clutch article on teaching Black girls to love themselves (sorry Authors…I forgot the actual name of the article)…the author showed a pic of an infant whose hair was straightened out!!! Just Saying…

  • Nikki

    Angela Bassett doesn’t look like Tina Turner, and Laurence Fishburne didn’t look like Ike. Jamie Foxx doesn’t look like Ray Charles. Don Cheadle doesn’t look anything like how Mouse was described in the book for Devil in a Blue Dress. But their performances were stunning. Sometimes physicial resemblance is not required for someoene to inhabit the role. Besides, she can’t do any worse than Mary J.

  • Demeriese Naima Valier

    This is a straight up diss to Nina Simone’s legacy. How dare they make a movie of someone so iconic and not even bother to get an actress who resembles her. Neither she or Zoe Saldana look anything like Nina Simone. I just created a petition to the producers and casting directors of the movie. Sign it today and make sure you pass it along so that we can let Hollywood that we are fed up with their historical re-writes.

  • tight lipped mary


    what the heck happened to MJB?

    “WE” know who Mary J Blige is…and “WE” would fill seats on her name alone.

  • Nic

    Apparently Hollywood is allergic to dark-skinned black women so that will never happen. Every black women is apparently always going to played by Zoe Saldana, Beyonce, Thandie Newton or Paula Patton.

  • Nic

    Yeah, why do people think Zoe Salanda isn’t black. You can be black and Latina. She just doesn’t have anything that would make you think Nina Simone, and she’s not a good enough actress to make you forget the lack of physical resemblance, like Denzel Washington did in Malcolm X.

    But yeah, lots of Latinos are as black as you. Speaking Spanish doesn’t change that. Why do you think Dominicans do hair so well? B/c they are BLACK too…

  • Nic

    Um, her hair doesn’t look naturally straight so much as relaxed. But yeah, she has broad features but I don’t think she’s a good choice in terms or skill, talent, or presence for this role.

  • Nic

    Zoe Saldana isn’t an awful actress but you shouldn’t be using these people as proof she can do it. She is nowhere CLOSE to being in the same league as these women and in this case, while she’s not fair, she’s apparently light enough for Hollywood to now give her every acting role that Beyonce doesn’t want, and I guess her ethnicity is used in their minds (like it is in the minds of many black folks) to deny her actual blackness (which I do not like since that shouldn’t be questioned when she doens’t even try to pretend that she’s not a Black woman).

  • Mademoiselle

    @Yb: Thank you thank you thank you! Discrimination lies in attempting to ignore the differences between people. The differences matter, though, and Hollywood et al does not get that.

  • Nope

    I don’t know about MJ Blige, but this is definitely wrong. That’s like getting Rashida Jones to play Harriet Tubman. I’m thinking Viola Davis.

  • Nope

    She’s not brown to me. She looks yellow (not in this picture) which is light skinned. Mary J Blige is brown. It’s not about the fact that she is black or Latina. It is about how Hollywood is so into colorism and how there are many darker women who would love to get a role like this but Hollywood got someone so much lighter than Nina. There are just so many black actresses that are good and look more like Nina.

  • Barbara

    @Molly Barnes…..What a cute little piggy lol and he/she has boots on too lol

  • Esther

    Paula Patton would be much more “believable”

  • cabugs

    Whoa! I googled the actress you named in your comment. Spot on! Ms. Oduye has the PERFECT looks for the role. Hopefully she is a great actress as well. But seriously, wow. If we’re going on looks alone, she would pass perfectly as Nina Simone.

  • AsantewaaSpeaks

    Thank you Nope. I agree 100%. It would be one thing if this were a one off situation – but it seems very suspicious to me that time and time again women who are light in complexion and of visible mixed African and European ancestry are chosen over dark skinned actresses to portray positive roles of darker skinned women of more exclusive African ancestry. But when it comes to playing a maid, whore or crack head a dark skinned actress is seen as just fine.

    Harriet Tubman and Nina Simone are prominent and iconic women of very visible Sub-Saharan African descent. In many Sub-Saharan African countries Thandie Newton, Paula Patton, and Zoe Saldana could be mistaken for white, Indian or Arab. Trust me, Harriet Tubman and Nina Simone would have never been mistaken for such. They would fit right in. Is it too much to ask that our dark skinned little girls see someone who looks like them on screen in a positive role? We all know that in the black community people who look like Zoe, Thandie, or Paula are treated differently from those who look like Lauren India, or Viola so lets not act as if color never matters. Very dark skinned actresses were not chosen to play Dorothy Dandridge or Josephine Baker so why all of a sudden should lighter skinned actresses be chosen to play Nina Simone or Harriet Tubman or the fictional brown-skinned character Olanna from Half of a Yellow Sun? Lets get real and get right

  • mdeborah

    The fact that she’s Dominican background is a HUGE issue for this role. Better not dear tell a Dominican as dark as Nina that she’s Black. For this reason alone this actress, who just discovered the monetary value of being cast as a Black American and discovered she was Black around 2010 and publicly stated so, is the worst person to play this role. Wasn’t keen on Mary either because Nina wouldn’t be caught dead in Blond hair.
    Would like to see Blatinas playing positive Blatina roles of their heros and staying away from our heros who made a diffference that they wouldn’t dare stand up and do in this society. If you’re so okay with this, then watch the backlash from their groups if Diana Ross played Celia Cruz!

  • Wow

    I agree with the notion that WE tell our own stories cause clearly hollywood does not care enough to do it justice! I think unfortunately shade matters, especially for women roles. Cause too often it is the lighter/biracial woman that represents all shades of Black womanhood in the media. I think both choices of Mary J and this Zoe are wrong.

  • AlesiaMichelle

    Hand raised. Pen ready!

  • Maria

    I’m Dominican and I am not Black. Just for the record. Dominicans are mixed in a way that’s got a Caucasian on one side of the island and a Black/Haitian person on another side. I auditioned for a role once of a Dominican wife and the director wouldn’t even go past my entrance to the door because he said I didn’t look “Dominican enough”. I am 100% Dominican. If I were Black I would be peeved that Zoe was cast as Nina Simone. Heck, I’m peeved about it and I’m not Black. It just wasn’t a good casting choice, IMO. I want Nina to look like Nina.

  • bk

    OK. I don’t get it.
    As a white person,I’ve never understood the black vs. brown pigmentation discrimination that people of color inflict on themselves.

  • Mjj

    Bk… Really?

  • Jess

    Zoe is Black, so why not? They can just take the relaxer outof her hair, and she’ll llok no different than anybody else in the 60′s and 70s. And please…not the “No, she’s Dominican!!” argumant again. That’s just a level of ignorance that should not even exist anymore. If she’s a good actor, she can pull off Nina’s style.

  • mrie

    If skin colour is not the issue here, then why doesn’t the person who portrays Nina look like Nina (ie skin colour, nose, hair etc)?
    Obviously skin colour is an issue or else Nina who is a dark skin woman would be played by a dark skin woman. By casting Zoe as Nina, they are saying that a dark skin woman is not beautiful enough. This has nothing to do with talent, or else they would cast someone who can sing. Zoe isn’t even that strong of an actress to play such a strong woman!
    I am a light skinned woman and I must say to those light skin people who are outraged by this issue, get off you hypocritical high horse. We do benefit greatly because of our light skin and do so compare ourselves to other dark skin people, I am not going to pretend we do not, I see it every day.

  • chanela17

    because hollywood doesn’t trust unknown black actors to carry a feature film. they feel like it won’t make any money because they aren’t a big name… meanwhile every movie that comes out has a white unknown actor and they BLOW UP like crazy. this is why we always see the same 10 black actors in rotation.

  • Jess

    umm….but nina simone and zoe are the same color – Black! would you argue against zoe if she was from the bahamas, or trinidad? they’re still black – just because her colonial language is spanish instead of english doens’t make her any less black. laz alonso is 100% cuban but nobody claims that he’s not black – why the double standards for males versus females? ignorance is scary!

  • Jess

    when did zoe become light-skinned? she’s not!

  • Jess

    thank you, cee cee! dayum! what’s with the gnorance? zoe is black – yes she’s Latina, but she’s still black like we’re American instead of Ghanaian or Ethiopian. Why does this have to keep coming up?

  • Jess

    Maria, whetehr you want to deny itor not, the Dominican Republic has plenty of Black people/Africn descended people.If we go by your mixed theory, then most Black Americans (long-term, non-immigrant) would not be Black either since so many are mixed. Thisis stupid. If Zoe wants the role, and can play the role, she should get he role.

  • Jess

    @Amber Nefertari: Chile, don’t get your blood pressure up over ignorant people. The main Black Americans tellng people how they’re not Black could step foot in Africa, and most Africans wouldn’t call them Black/African either. most of the enslaved Blacks who ended up in what is now the United States actually started off in South America and the Carribbean before being transferred up north here. Ignorance and jealousy abound. It’s really REALLY sad.

    Of course part of the problem is that YES, many Afro-latinos themselves try to deny any and all connection to Africa because it’s so looked down on (same with many Black Americans, actually), but it doesn’t change the fact of who they are, AND it doesn’t apply to Zoe anyway because she has never denied her Blackness.

    All these Afro-American “blackness police” need to zip it – we’ve got so many people who claim to be everything but black it’s ridiculous. The only reason we cannott get away with denial is that we are still in our country (the U.S.). In latin America, the Afro-Latinos can’t deny their heritage either because they are still in their home countries. But when they immigrate to the U.S, they are given the option to become the American version of “Latino”, which means to pretend they are in no way related to Black/Africa or similar to Black Americans. Blck Americans who travel out of the country have that option too – many in South Africa are no longer called Black, and instead called mixed or colored, same with Brazil – they have an opion to no longer be known as Black.

    Andof course the gender component – every body is fine with Afro-Latino males being Black (Alfonso Ribiero, Laz Alonso), but have a hissy fit over Afro-Latino women being who they are – Black. Dumb.

    Either way, thisis dumb. Moving on to the next forum.

  • Jess

    @yb, I see your point – it’s one thing if people say that a foreign Black (Blacks of recent immigrant background) not play the role of an Afro-american (non-immigrant Blacks) because of culture. It’s a whole ‘nother thing to say that a foreign Black isn’t black just because she’s not Black American. The CULTURE argument I can see, but not the race. That’s jus dum, because SHE’S BLACK.

  • Pingback: Nina Simone’s daughter allegedly responds to Zoe Saldana being cast as her mother on Facebook | theGrio

  • coffeeandfingernails

    For me this isn’t so much about light/dark (and certainly not about Domincan/Black, come on y’all!) but just about good casting. You wouldn’t cast Salma Hayek to play Janis Joplin because it would be extremely difficult for audiences to forget the discrepancy long enough to actually become engrossed in your film. It says something about the director’s dedication, or lack thereof, to the subject and makes me question whether any part of this film will actually be worth my time.

    BTW–someone suggested Adepero Oduye and I heartily second–she’s perfect!

  • gilby

    It is obvious your are a fan of Zoe Saldana. I also think she is a fine young actress. Zoe may have the acting chops to play the role but I don’t think she is the right actress to portray Ms. Simone. This argument has always surfaced when an iconic figure such as Ms. Simone is chosen to be
    portrayed in film. I remember how people were up in arms about Angela Bassett portraying Tina Turner. The same buzz resulted when Jennifer Lopez was chosen to play Selena. No one thought Jamie Foxx could pull off Ray Charles and no imagined Joquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash. Depending on the script and the story line it might be possible for Zoe to pull it off. The problem is Ms. Saldana has billed herself as being other than an African-American. Now she has every right to claim her heritage as she sees fit but when a public figure publicly declares they are NOT something yet gain THEIR income on playing roles they claim they are not it smacks of hypocrisy. Zoe started the mess about her heritage. “We” were happy with her and her acting until SHE started the conversation about being “other” to fulfill the exotic image her handlers felt she should pursue. A la Tiger Woods. I’ve never heard Ms. Saldana speak a word of spanish nor have I ever detected any accent in her speech. But again all African Americans are a mixture of many thing the problem is when some of “us” don’t want to claim the african or black side and pretend we are more a nationality and not a color. Let’s not forget who created this “color coding” in the first place. In America this s–t is deep in our psyche because of the europeans who f—ed with our minds.
    Like coffee I am black, dark, strong and proud about it. Zoe isn’t proud to be black american and shouldn’t play that which she does not embrace. That’s the perception she has presented and that’s why so many object to her playing the role. You know that.

  • CoCo Brown

    Although Zoe is talented she’s also a different type of pretty than Nina Simone. Get an unknown to play Nina and they will nail it because they are thirsty and know that what’s at stake playing Nina

  • Theodora Anagor

    No they are not same colour, they have different skin tones that is the point, this is what they portrayed the ancient and current Egyptians as white Europeans when they clearly were not.
    Black is not our colour it is a label that Caucasians gave to us, it means the same thing/word that it was replaced by.
    You would not expect Meg Ryan or even Zoe Zaldana to play Frieda Kahlo, Gone are the days when any brown face will do because that is the mentality here.
    In Hollywood specifically darker skin has never been attractive so they dilute our identity by putting a lighter complexion on it, this smacks of racism.
    Your ignorance is scary,
    The difference between this case and Denzel Washington he looked like Malcolm x.

  • Lisa

    This is not a Hollywood production. Ealing Studios is doing this project. They are an indepedent studio based in London.

  • Lisa

    …and it’s unauthorized per Nina Simone’s daughter.

  • Pingback: Zoe Saldana will star as songstress Nina Simone in new biopic

  • FrankZappasGuitar

    Just put black face on her if she isn’t “black enough” for the audience. Or…maybe her skin tone isn’t the most crucial element of the film?

  • Pingback: @Pitbull & @JessicaAlba at DNC, William Levy (@willylevy29) in PSA, & @ZoeSaldana as Nina Simone (@NinaSimoneMusic) |

  • ithopia

    I agree that they should not cast Zoe as Nina but Hollywood is only picking up what we give them. We told them that we only like light-skinned black women by supporting only light-skinned female artists look at the music industry you could count the dark skin women that are on top on one hand. We let Jayz come with Rihanna who we all know can’t sing a lick just because she is light skinned with green eyes and all us cosigned on that. As a dark skinned woman I long for the day when we love ourselves and uplight our kind, no matter how much talent you have the fact how you get a white producer to cast you when they think you own don’t value your beauty.

  • testing2nina
  • testing2nina
  • Theresa

    YES HE CAN *sarcasms*… Terrence has white in him (w/colored eyes) so he can play a white person right? That’s what your comment is saying about Nina and Zoe, so in this case it must be true too.. Come on, its a huge difference and you know it, open your eyes.

  • DaliaMay

    Ya, you’re kinda missing the point here. This would be different if Nina Simone was just a singer. She wasn’t. And it would be different if Black women didn’t have the history with Hollywood (and, heck, society) that they do, but we do. Nina Simone struggled with and fought to be accepted in a world where broad noses, kinky hair and less than angular shaped faces was considered unattractive, unpopular and unwanted. She is a shining example to every dark-skinned girl out there who doesn’t look like the face Hollywood always tries to shove in our faces to show us is “what pretty is”.

    Casting this role with a woman with the delicate, angular, facial features of Saldana, straight-haired (I’m not gonna say whether or whether not she wears a relaxer, I’m just gonna say my hair sure as heck don’t straighten like that with product in it) and a “look” that is not only accepted by “the white community”, but heralded is in stark contrast to everything Nina Simone was.

    It’s not really about acting chops this time. Saldana is a capable actress. I’m sure she can recite the lines just fine. It’s more about the message this casting is sending Black women and the rest of the world: “We’re going to pretty you up. I hope you’re ok with that and, if you’re not, who cares? There’s nothing you can do about it anyways.”

  • billie

    colourism is important when you are talking about THE NINA SIMONE. I’m mixed myself, and I wouldn’t even audition for that role. Because Nina’s features her skin and her hair were very important. She struggled in the industry because of it. Nina is an important figure in the civil rights era. But from what your saying why don’t we just cast Drake as Tupac or Javier Bardem as Pres. Cliton. Since looking distinctly like the figure your playing matter. India Arie or Lauryn Hill are talented musically and look like better/closer representations of her. Color when it comes to Nina matters, it’s what made people around the world stop and listen and look.

  • Jessica

    I agree that a darker skinned actress should play the role because Nina struggled with skin color throughout her career. I think Zoe in her “blackface” is just as racist as a white actress in “blackface”. There are darker skinned women with the talent to play the role. I think less of Zoe for taking the role. I remember early in her career when asked about her ethnicity, Zoe would always list African last.

  • Pingback: New Photos of Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone Emerge – We’re Still Not Impressed | Clutch Magazine

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