A large contingent of the black internet were up in arms last night at the news that Zoe Saldana is now replacing Mary J. Blige in a much-discussed Nina Simone biopic. Really? Because Zoe’s known for her deep speaking and singing voices? Because she’s known for singing at all? Because she bears such uncanny physical resemblance to Simone? Okay…

Shadow and Act has confirmed the news, which began as a rumor. The film, which was slated to begin production last May, has been long-delayed – and there’s still no solid assurance that it will begin to shoot any time soon. The storyline will focus on Simone’s relationship with her manager, Clifton Henderson. The fabulous David Oyelowo is attached to that role. You’ll get no complaints from me on that one. But Zoe is even more questionable than Blige for this biopic, as Blige is, at least, a singer (though in order for either of them to really get to the core of Nina Simone’s voice, they would have to lip sync).

No one’s arguing that Zoe isn’t an appealing onscreen presence and a rapidly rising star. But most would agree that, if she remains attached to this particular film, she will be woefully miscast. Here are a few experienced actresses who’d more fully fit the bill:

1. Adepero Oduye
Tambay O. Obenson of Shadow and Act has been vocal about his preference for the young Pariah star in the role of Nina Simone. Oduye has certainly proven that she can carry a film. She has the commanding presence and sensitivity to play Nina and it would be great to see what she would do with a role this iconic.

2. Aisha Hinds

I love Aisha Hinds. I’ve loved her in pretty much every role I’ve watched her play. I’ve been patiently waiting for her to score that one breakout performance that will catapult her from guest appearances on television dramas to the silver screen big time. Playing Nina Simone would definitely provide her that boost.

3. N’Bushe Wright
I’m starting to think Wright may be semi-retired. According to IMDB, she was in a comedy last year, A Talent for Trouble. But before that, her last acting credit was in 2005. If she’s interested in a comeback, I’d love to see her agent throw her hat into the ring for this role.

4. Viola Davis
This is the obvious choice, really, if it’s a film that wants any Oscar nods. Davis’s career is red-hot right now, and it’s likely she doesn’t have time to squeeze this in (or that she doesn’t want to do another biopic right now, as she has at least one other in the works). But her speaking voice and her powerful onscreen presence make her a shoo-in for consideration.

5. India.Arie
Look. I know she’s not an actress and maybe she has next to no interest in acting. But as soon as they started talking about a Nina Simone biopic, I started thinking about India.Arie as an obvious contender. Her singing voice and her physical appearance make her a viable candidate.

What do you guys think? Can Zoe work in the role? Do you prefer any of our five picks? Would you like add your own?

  • http://www.facebook.com/teammegamills Mega Mills

    Viola Davis hands down…she has the voice the swag and it all!

  • gmarie

    wow Adepero Oduye looks A LOT like her..

  • Ms. Write

    I always thought India would make a great Nina.

  • http://singleblackmale.org TheMostInterestingManintheWorld

    “A large contingent of the black internet were up in arms last night at the news that Zoe Saldana is now replacing Mary J. Blige in a much-discussed Nina Simone biopic. Really? Because Zoe’s known for her deep speaking and singing voices? Because she’s known for singing at all? Because she bears such uncanny physical resemblance to Simone? Okay…”

    …. Because Mary’s known for her acting ability?

  • erica

    India was on stage in “Colored Girls”. She’s acted before. Oduye has strikingly similar features and the chops to pull it off.

  • http://cocoafly.com Cocoa Fly

    I wasn’t happy about Mary for this role either. And Zoe is just way off the mark. I speak with my dollars and if they don’t pay TRUE respect to Nina Simone and cast someone who resembles her, my dollars are staying in my pocket. I’m big fans of Zoe and Mary, but this is ridiculous.

  • miss ivy

    Viola Davis would be my first choice because of her great acting skills, don’t know if she can sing–India Arie would be my 2nd choice–although Zoe is a great actress on the come up — physically she bears no resemblence to Nina don’t know if she can sing either!!

  • http://stacialbrown.com Stacia L. Brown

    I wrote about the problems with casting MJB, too, 2 months ago: http://www.clutchmagonline.com/2012/06/adventures-in-questionable-movie-casting/

  • http://stacialbrown.com Stacia L. Brown

    Thanks for the reminder! I’d completely forgotten about India trying her hand at for colored girls.

  • Sick

    Any one of your five picks would be sooooooooooooooo much better than Zoe Saldana!!!!! If she does get the role,I will not go see it!!! She looks nothing like Nina and Nina was a proud dark sister who was the epitome of African beauty. Zoe is NOT!!!!!!! Please, they need to fix that or I won’t go see it!!!! No one else will either. She does not even have the carriage Nina had. No WAY!!!!!!!!

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  • Sick

    Like Zoe Saldana would even think of going bald like Nina!!!!!! NOT!!!!!!! Who is the idiot who thought of her?!?!?!?!?!

  • a hot mess

    If I am not mistaken Zoe isn’t even black and didn’t Nina Simone get denied a scholarship because she was black…well, I guess in Hollywood black Dominican, puerto rican….same damn thing huh? NI&&A

  • Nic

    Dude, Zoe Saldana is black. She’s as black as me, and if you are black, she’s as black as you. She doesn’t even have ambiguous features. Her nose is wide. Her lips are full. She has interviewed and said she is black and her parents are black for all of the people who want to say otherwise. And even if she didn’t, why do people let themselves thinkg that people whose parents came from South or Central America can’t be Black? The majority of people in the DR are black (even the ones in denial), as are the majority of people in Brazil (about 60% admit it on the census so again, the actual number is higher). They have white people in those countries, and Asians too, and yes, they have Black people who are descended from slaves(and other things) just like a lot of us are.

    The MAJORITY of Africans imported to the new world actually went to Cuba, the DR, and South and Central America. In fact, more went to those two tiny islands than were shipped over here. Fun fact.

    So people need to stop saying Zoe isn’t black. Ethnicity, nationality, and race are not the same things, but it is particularly stupid to still repeat that when she has said she is black. She’s not denying it. So why are you?

    if you go to S. America as a black person, you’ll blend in until someone asks you a question and you can’t answer them (unless you speak Spanish or Portuguese). You will in many of those countries see more people who look like you than you’ll ever see in the US, and certainly more than in Europe.

    I mean, if she was really, really white-skinned and had different features and hair that didn’t look relaxed, I could see you saying that, but unless you are blind, how could say “no, she’s not black.” If she said she wasn’t black, I’d say she was a liar or in denial. B/c she is that black looking.

  • Ravi

    This is a revoltin’ development. Won’t be seeing this.

  • Nic

    This is ridiculous, but someone tells me that they probably made a call to Beyonce, which would have been equally ridiculous.

    Dude, where is Angela Bassett…she could pull this off and looks good enough to play Nina Simone even if this is based on a younger Nina Simone.

    But all of the women listed have the looks, talent, and don’t get enough work. Oh, yeah, b/c they are so black it gives Hollywood hives I guess.

  • Aphropik

    I don’t want to see a light skinned Nina…Period….but like Nikki Giovanni said in Nikki Rosa, “I hope no white person ever has cause to write about my life.” This is what happens when other people tell our stories. They can’t help but get it wrong…and who are we kidding even with this list of very talented women…at the end of the day…if we truly want to pay tribute to Nina then we need to get the best: Angela Bassett! C’mon son!

  • Darrell

    Anika Noni Rose….end of the debate.

  • a hot mess

    OK let me clarify Black American, I know she is black (if you are nit pickin and such) and trust me I have traveled several various continents and seen our people in many BEAUTIFUL different lights, hues and array, but all in all she looks nothing like Nina Simone in all of the above FEATURES you just mentioned. And yes I am black but I am not the same shade nor skin tone as Zoe so no I am not the same as her. I am more of the tone of Nina and am lightweight offended that whoever is casting the role of Nina (if that is the role that Zoe is even playing) was too lazy or money driven to find someone who looked like NINA of looks like ME…cause Zoe (a beautiful sista and all) doesn’t cut it!!

  • Cree

    I actually wouldn’t be surprised if Zoe jumped at the chance to go bald…it would be an extreme thing to cause controversy and prove how “serious” she was taking the role. Smh.

  • shadow

    Hollywood has a problem with “black” period!! Those that are the complexion of Nina Simone are really gonna have shade thrown on them. It’s like, Hollywood has to make it easy on their eyes so let’s get as close to our shade as possible regardless if it is a ture representation of the character or not. Trust, if they could get away with a popular white actress in “blackface”, they would!

  • LemonNLime

    This movie was a FAIL the moment they decided not to go with Viola Davis. Period.

  • http://naaadjoa.wordpress.com/ Adjoa

    I do not think Zoe is miscast at all because don’t you all know: we all look alike to them!

    (FYI, this is a joke). ;)

  • Shawntay

    Aisha Hinds is a great actress I think Ms. Simone would be proud!

  • http://gravatar.com/allisblog al

    alfre woodard hands down.

  • http://gravatar.com/thequietvoice152 thequietvoice

    +1 @ Nic

  • http://gravatar.com/thequietvoice152 thequietvoice

    Also @ a hot mess, if you mean Black American you need to say that. Black does not equal American. There are Black people all around the world from various nationalities. Also, what does it matter if she is not Black American?? If that’s where you’re taking your argument.

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  • lynn

    I love Zoe but she is the wrong type physically. And I don’t think she has the acting chops to overcome that.

  • isola

    Zoe is a good actress. She might be able to pull it off. It shouldn’t matter that she can’t sing, that is what lip synching is for. Angela Bassett did a great job as Tina Turner and she is not a singer. Hollywood has tunnel vision when it comes to actresses of color. Zoe is the it girl of color right now.

    Thumbs down to India Arie.

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    These are some great picks!

  • khrsh

    oyou must haferead Yo must have read my mind. I don’t even think her n the same thoughts in my hea.

  • jcross

    Oooo I forgot about her…

  • http://www.facebook.com/jnee88 Janeé Caldwell

    FIRST I was pissed at the choice of Mary J. but now I’m like Zoe Saldana?? what are the ppl in charge smoking? Nina was a dark skinned woman. she had a less skinny physique. nothing about zoe saldana says NINA SIMONE to me. i would love to see VIOLA DAVIS or any unknown actress who has the acting chops. maybe a theatre actor

  • http://www.homegirlblog.com Raquel

    I said Adepero the second I heard about Zoe. Did anybody mention Lauryn Hill? I know she’s Probl’y about to do some time, but she can sing AND act. I was talking about this earlier with my peeps. And wasn’t part of Nina’s experience that she struggled at times with not being traditionally beautiful? What experience can Zoe draw from to bring that to the role. Very bizarre casting decisions.

  • http://www.homegirlblog.com Raquel

    Also I’m SO in denial that anybody thought this was a good idea. Is this a hoax? lol but for real though.

  • Ashley

    Isn’t Zoe Saldana Puerto Rican?

  • LolaChi

    India Arie looks soo much like Nina, however, Viola Davis has the acting chops. Who’s casting this movie, for real?

  • omfg

    one of the greatest things about ms simone was that she was a dark skinned BLACK woman.

    zoe is not black. she is not black.

  • TT

    I’m sooo boycotting this film if they cast Zoe or anyone that bears no resemblance to the beautiful queen that is Nina Simone both physically and vocally [ i dont even think that's possible] but you know what i mean! – This is ridiculous … Hollywood will continue to dismiss, disregard, and degrade us

  • omfg

    this is disgusting. i’m a lover of nina simone. i saw her during the last concert tour before she died. i am a huge fan and admirer of this great woman and artist.

    zaldana is not the one to rep ms simone.

    1. zaldana is not black. she is mixed. mixed girls are not a proxy for a black woman
    2. being a dark skinned black woman is sooo much part of what made ms simone so spectacular – how she stood in her own self-actualized idea of beauty and intelligence
    3. zaldana simply does not have the gravitas to carry this role.
    4. there are too many BLACK women who can carry this role. use them.

    i mean, this is a complete insult to ms simone, imo. i don’t think i’ve ever been more disgusted by something like this. ugh.

    definitely would not see this movie.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hoodedmonk John Mitchell

    Jamie Foxx was convincing as Ray Charles because he looked similar to Ray. A big part of Nona’s mystique was how she felt about her darkness, our darkness and how society reacted to our darkness. It’s central to her story.

    When they do the Stevie Wonder story will they cast Michael Ealey?

  • omfg


    these lectures about saying there were africans slaves all over the americas are a waste of time.

    a lot of the people i might regard as black in latin america don’t even wanna claim that, especially if they are dominican. even though zaldana may try to claim she is black in the u.s., i wonder if she would speak so loudly about being black if she was in the dominican republic. me thinks not.

    also, if you knew anything about nina simone and the period she came up in, you would know that embracing blackness and civil rights were very much a part of what she was about – it is particularly poignant given the fact that she was dark, had big lips, a big nose and nappy arse hair on top of her absolute brilliance as a lyricist, musician and singer.

    how ironic that somebody could actually suggest a dominican or puerto rican for this role.

    i have never in my life met a dominican (or a puerto rican) who will stand up amongst dominicans or puerto ricans and refer to themselves as black. they are always trying to find some way not to say they are, unless of course it will benefit them.

    nope, this role needs to go to a woman who is black 24/7 no matter where she is – somebody who like nina stands in her beauty and intelligence – as a black woman.

  • MimiLuvs

    The only thing that I wish for was for an unknown actress to play Nina in this biopic. I’m tired of seeing the same actresses being cast in a role that requires a black woman. I understand that Hollywood execs believe casting a familiar face will bring in people, but it just so aggravating sometimes. Unless they plan on adding some latex pieces to Zoe’s face and she will undergo a physical change, I know I will see Zoe instead of Nina on that screen.

  • African Mami


    Viola or Adepero

  • http://www.twitter.com/itsdemeriese Demeriese Naima Valier

    I just created a petition to the producers and casting directors of the Nina Simone biopic. Sign it today and make sure you pass it along so that we can let Hollywood know that we are fed up with their historical re-writes and will not continue to support movies in which this practice is done.


  • original cindy

    Aisha Hinds or Viola Davis would be perfect

  • Nic

    Zoe is totally black. I may not agree with the casting, but her Blackness should not be questioned and we should not be trying to act like we have a monopoloy on blackness. She’s blacker than a lot of Black Americans that you wouldn’t dare question.

    Some people are in the denial about their African ancestry but you as sadly misinformed if you don’t think that there aren’t people in the Spanish and Portuguese speaking world who aren’t proud of being Black and who aren’t fighting for their rights and identify. Many of them see it as a problem and do proudly claim their race and ethnicity. Just b/c you don’t know any, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I had a lot of college classmates who were quite proud of being Afro-Latino and suggesting that that they don’t exist is incorrect and pretty ignorant.

    Black is black is black. Ethnicity and nationality are another beast entirely.

    So no, she’s not Black American. She’s Afro-Latina, but that doesn’t make her less black than any of us. I don’t even know why people can’t wrap their heads around this. It is mind-boggling.

  • Nic

    You know, you are probably mixed. She isn’t Black American, she isn’t dark-skinned(but not that light, so I’m not sure where you live), but you can’t claim she’s not black.

    The part about Nina Simone’s struggle is a valid criticism. Hollywood doesn’t give black actresses any roles, even when they should get them.

    It would just be better to have someone with more depth, acting talent, and possibly the singing voice. If she wasn’t so troubled, Lauryn Hill would probably be epic.

    You know, Etta James was light(biracial) and I thought Beyonce (not biracial) playing her was a travesty on a lot of levels, so it’s not always about matching skin tone either. That was probably a much bigger mess than this will be, although it won’t be good.

  • BatSheva

    Somebody needs to be fired in casting ……. Zoe is NOT a stong enough actress to even begin to be the understudy for goddess Nina. Now Viola Davis would be what Denzel was for Malcolm X; Had you lost in the moment ….. Forgot you were watching a movie! I read “I Put A Spell On You: The Autobiography Of Nina Simone” in one day, so lost was I in her emotional highs and lows, her spirit her essence ~ I cried at the end of the book like she just past,

  • Nadell

    WHO are the folks behind this movie!?!?!? Honestly. This is RIDICULOUS!!! Blige was a NO for me initially and now Saldana is a DEFINITE NO!
    I’m sure when Saldana rightfully turns this offer down, the next person they will ask to portray Simone will be Katy Perry!!!
    THE CHOICES THEY’VE COME UP WITH ARE DISGRACEFUL! Not saying the women aren’t phenomenal but to do justice to Nina Simone, absolutely not.
    I have said this time and time again:
    ANIKA NONI ROSE, INDIA.ARIE, Adepero Oduye ….they all resemble Simone and 2 of the women listed are actual singers – and 2 of the women listed are trained actresses.

  • Josh

    Personally I think Tichina Arnold or Fantasia could do Nina Simone justice. Here’s why. Tichina have done a few films but she is mainly known for her roles on Martin and Everybody Hate Chris. I feel like this role right here will take her career to a whole another level. And she even mentioned in an interview that her dream role was Nina Simone. If Tichina play this part, it would be a dream come true for her.

    Fantasia would also be a great candid because she resemble Nina and I know she will kill it. We all seen her act in a successful run on Broadway, her own lifetime movie and had a few television appearances. Fantasia got the acting chops to do the role justice. But her voice is much more powerful then Nina’s. She can lip sync, I preferred the actress that play Nina Simone in the biopic Nina lip sync because Nina Simone have a very distinctive voice and I feel like her voice should be left alone. This movie for Fantasia would what she needs to gain the respect that she deserves and to catapult her career into superstar status.

  • http://Estherologie.tumblr.com Esther

    Though I do believe that this casting is definitely off, let’s get one thing straight: Zoe Saldana is black, Afro Latina to exact. We are not a phenotypically monochrome diaspora (though Hollywood would like to tell us otherwise) but how problematic is it to discredit Zoe Saldana just because she doesnt fit what is physically defined as “authentically black?” It reminds me of the whole controversy around the biracial actress who played Harriet Tubman in some move, and though I was definitely not here for that bs either, but this whole policing of blackness is anything but productive.

  • http://Estherologie.tumblr.com Esther

    Oops this repost who actually directed at the convo under @hotmess spread.

  • http://Estherologie.tumblr.com Esther

    Heather Headley or Adepero Oduye.

  • charmi

    thats exactly who i was thinking!!

  • omfg

    i actually studied latin american studies in college. i’m fully aware of who is there. you absolutely cannot take me to school on this issue. you just can’t.

    there are people there i would identify as black, however they don’t. whenever black americans refer to them as black, they often get offended. they think we do not understand their mixture or their culture.

    i once had a dominican girl with the nappiest hair i’d ever seen, thick lips, broad nose and who was zoe’s complexion swear up and down to me that she was not black. who am i to argue?

    most of the time, they do not want to be called black. they simply do not. it is ridiculous to insist on calling them black when this is not what they feel.

    i remember once in colombia they were actually doing ads and commercials telling black people to indicate they were black on the country’s census. lol. why? because they wouldn’t normally ever indicate they were black unless they absolutely had to – as in, they had something to gain.

    so, good for zoe that she considers herself black.

    generally, i’ve been encouraged by these very people to not see them as black. so, they shouldn’t be mad when some of us don’t regard them as black; all we’re doing is following their lead.

  • http://www.hiddenwallstreet.blogspot.com mdeborah

    Zoe Saldana would be the absolute worst person in the world to play this role. If Zoe was decent and really knew her craft and our history she would bow out gracefully and support other actresses who really fit the bill considering how important Nina
    Simone is. When I first heard Nina Simone and then had my parents: one a seriously informed militant Bahamian immigrant who taught me my history, the other from the south who didn’t say much but did tell me about Nina Simone as he came from the segregated south (both experienced Jim Crow), I better understood what Ms. Simone meant to people who got off the plane and weren’t allowed to eat the sandwich inside the restaurant where purchased and having a redneck officer explain what Jim Crow was or from my Father who remembers the separate water fountains and his side of the family that refuses to talk to this day about what all went on.
    It’s growing up hearing a Caribbean immigrant talking about the difference in experiences and COMPLETELY ACKNOWLEDGING HOW TERRIFYING IT WAS TO BE A BLACK AMERICAN not knowing that she was related to James Weldon Johnson whose family came from Andros, Bahamas. It’s still a nation that stupidly swears Black Americans are too touchy about race.
    NO ZOE, NOT YOU, NEVER, EVER YOU who just discovered she’s Black in 2010 as opposed to just Dominican. Perhaps she’ll feel comfy with Mary J. Blige playing a struggling Dominican in a biopic on Spanish TV or on mainstream TV. Would that be a slap in the face? Maybe we need to start doing that. Mary, start learning Spanish and Spanglish and learn the differences in detail so that you can start playing them. I think Mary should play Celia Cruz. Let’s see how well that goes down.
    This is one of the reasons I’m for expanded roles dealing with ethnicity in entertainment because I cannot stand the thought of these prejudiced people who HATE AMERICAN BLACKS playing us in significant roles that matter. Nina Simone matters. Dominicans can’t stand us and the vast majority WOULD NEVER EVER stand up proudly and say SAY IT LOUD, I’M BLACK AND I’M PROUD.
    They can feel however they want to feel but stay the hell away from our heroes that made a difference for us. Dominicans never made a difference for American Blacks, too many times they make trouble, bring misery, misfortune, jealousy, resentment and dissension.
    God made us all however as far as most of the Latin world is concerned, I, as a Black American, beneficiary of so much blood shed to simply live in America, I will never allow Whites to oppress us and for damned sure will NEVER, EVER ACCEPT DOMINATION, CONTROL AND AN ENSLAVED MINDSET FROM THE LIKES OF LIGHT SKINNED WHITE LOOKING LATINOS OR THE BLACK ONES THAT DON’T STAND UP AGAINST IT IN THEIR OWN CULTURES. If they think that we’re going to accept being pushed aside they have another thing coming. Some are fighters like Arthur Arturo Shomburg but most will try to oppress us and I’m not accepting that ish at all.

  • omfg

    i’m mixed? roflmao.

  • http://www.hiddenwallstreet.blogspot.com mdeborah

    Zoe just discovered she is Black and can play Black Americans and push us aside after CENTURIES of fighting for survival in this nation around 2010 when she got the cover of Ebony. It’s also economically feasible for her to play a Black American but I can remember her claiming to be Dominican first, foremost and only like many from her culture do.
    I’m going to research their history, find their best and their worst, make movies about them and pick a majority African American cast to play them and let’s see how well that goes down.
    This story is NOT like J-LO playing Selina. Nina actually took a stand with her music and White America couldn’t handle her. Even in “For colored girls…” there was NO NEED to re-record the songs with another singer. IT should have stayed with NIna’s voice which embodied the true experience of the hell we went through which many a Dominican does NOT appreciate. Some do most don’t and that’s a fact.
    I guess they’ll be having J-Lo play Zora Neale Hurston too. ‘We skinfolk but we ain’t kinfolk’.
    Same goes for the African actresses too. Can understand with all the African actresses out there, we really don’t need an American playing Winnie Mandela or Marion Makeba and vice versa playing Harriet Tubman.
    Would like to see the fallout if a Black Latino/Latina is set to play Marcus Garvey or Nanny, the Jamaican Harriet Tubman who brought enslaved Jamaicans to freedom in the hills of Jamaica. Always wondered if she and Tubman are related.

  • Shelly

    I would not support this movie if a black american woman does not play nina simone. I am tired of hollywood having these women of other races and ethnicities play the roles of women with 2 black parents. I am even more tired of some of us blindly defending this. It’s totally like a slap in the face of all black women to me. It’s like saying we are not good enough to play ourselves. We aren’t acceptable enough. I don’t care how dark, big-lipped, or wide-nosed any of you claim Zoe Saldana is…you know good and well that she is not African American, and I can bet that she would be quick to tell you this herself is you ever called her an African American woman. Have some pride in yourselves, people!

  • Riley

    I think they need to pull in Davis. I can really see her in this part and I think it will also get her another Oscar nom.

  • Tami

    Being as though, Nina took so much pride in her Black facial features, I just don’t see Zoe being cast as Ms. Simone. It’s a slap in our face, for lighter skin women to always get the starring roles, and I am not being prejudiced in my statement, it’s just what I see. There are so many brown skin actresses out here that can do Nina Simone justice. Why not give them a try…

  • Blasè

    wonderful – now how about writing the screenplay, casting these ladies and making the non-hollywierd Nina biopic…

  • KCHC

    #1: When I look at IMDB, I still see Mary J Blige attached to the project and no mention of Zoe.

    #2: Have they even started filming and is it locked down that she is going to play the part of Nina Simone or is media, as usual, jumping to conclusions? I mean it could be possible that she’s set to play Nina’s daughter.

    #3: If the focus is on her relationship with Clifton Henderson than a better choice would be Viola Davis, she is a fantastic actress, has great range and could kill it as Nina. If we’re talking about her entire life than as a young Nina my vote would go to Aisha Hinds, she steals the show in every role that she has portrayed and she is a phenomenal actress.

  • M

    I personally don’t think that Zoe is a good fit. Period. Because she does not resemble Nina Simone AT ALL and part of portraying someone in a bio pic is resemblance. You must also be a great actor, which Zoe Zaldana is, but she is a terrible pic to play Nina Simone. She looks NOTHING like her and she doesn’t even resemble her in the way she is built. There are way too many other dark skinned actresses that should have gotten this part. Not even interested in seeing this now…

  • Barbara

    @mdeborah….Thanks for sharing. What an interesting read. Yes, “Lift Every Voice And Sing” of our history. Nina did.

  • http://gravatar.com/niambidawn niambidawn

    I don’t agree with the pick of Zoe Saldana for Nina Simone, either, but I don’t know if skin tone can be the determining factor in casting. I don’t recall anyone being up in arms when a much lighter Jeffrey Wright played Martin or a much darker Denzel played Malcolm. I also don’t think that singing ability is all that important, as we all loved Angela Bassett as Tina and Laurence Fishburne as Ike and neither of them can sing as far as I know. It’s an actin
    My opinion is that there are much better choices. My choice would be Oduye. She wowed me in Pariah and she exudes the same beauty and confidence as Ms. Simone.

  • Hildy Johnson

    Meshell Ndegeocello?

  • Brea

    Until the movie comes out in theaters and we have a chance to se how Zoe does in her role portraying Nina no one has any right to say she’s not good enough for the role. Saldana is a great actress and if you actually are a fan of Nina you’ll see the movie regardless. Give Zoe a chance!

  • http://estherologie.tumblr.com esmagnifique

    @mdeborah so acknowledging her nationality is now synonymous to discrediting and therefore disregarding her race? Well dam,n I better stop saying that I’m Nigerian because that means I’m trying to deny it too!

  • bluefacedangel

    Yes. Any of these ladies would be a better fit than Zoe Saldana.

  • AnonymousG

    I continue to be amazed at how blind white Hollywood is when it comes to their casting. We already know they’re stupid. Perhaps what’s worse is that Zoe, is also drinking the kool-aid and believes she can pull this off. At what point does a true artist see the forest for the trees, step back say, “You know what. I would love to, but I’m not the right fit for this role. I think there’s someone better.” … All of the actresses you suggested are brilliant and talented and would far better serve Simone’s legacy.

  • http://floacist.wordpress.com the floacist

    Was/has it ever been confirmed that Saldana is actually playing Simone, oreven in the running to play her? Getting all riled up over casting rumors (which I can make up for just about anything right now) is ridiculous.

    And its called acting. You don’t have to be ‘known’ of something to be capable of doing so. Heath Ledger wasn’t ‘known’ to play roles similar to the Joker.

  • http://donnafromtherock.wordpress.com DonnaFromTheRock

    When I heard that Mary J Blige had the role, my first thought was “Adepero Oduye could do a better job.” I don’t know if Oduye can even sing or if singing is required for the role but I think she could nail it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1245753 Nora Jean

    I have to agree. If she is starring in this role, I will not go to see it either.

  • http://jojasminraquel.tumblr.com/ Jasmin

    these are all really great choices. i like mary j but i just can’t see her playing nina simone. and zoe!?! oh no! i it isn’t offered to her and if it is i hope she turns it down and say that there so many other talented woman out there that can portray nina better than she could. maybe zoe can portray billie holiday or lena horne.

  • http://twitter.com/laprincesayasin LaPrincesa Yasin (@laprincesayasin)

    @esmagnifique Great response! There was so much ignorance in the response by @mdeborah that I didn’t know where to start.

  • http://twitter.com/laprincesayasin LaPrincesa Yasin (@laprincesayasin)

    L<3VE love love not needing to respond to the people in the comments, because people like you have it covered- thank you :)

  • http://twitter.com/laprincesayasin LaPrincesa Yasin (@laprincesayasin)

    To clarify my complimentary comment is for @Nic as for @omfg not only is this what I study too (meaning I know you are chalk full of ish and either need to hit the books again or bow out of talking about “them”), but I am Afro-Latina and like every community on the planet you can find people of EVERY shade, EVERY mindset and your ignorance masked as expertise on the subject is appalling on so many levels, not to mention high-handed and embarrassing at the Diasporic level. SMH @you.

  • http://twitter.com/laprincesayasin LaPrincesa Yasin (@laprincesayasin)

    wow. So how long have you been a part of the Tea Party and will you complaining aboth “dem takin’ urr jobs” next? Oh wait, you already are.

  • wishful thinking

    As it may be it has been confirmed AND it isn’t even a HOLLYWOOD production, here is the link that has the most recent info and then there is also a review of the screen play as well on another link. http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/confirmed-zoe-saldana-will-play-nina-simone-in-biopic-a-some-realities-to-consider

  • Jess

    Zoe is within the same color range as Nina, although theyhave different features. Zoe is proud to be Black and has always said so. She’s also the epitome of African beauty there is not only one version of “African” beauty, you know.

  • PJ

    In my opinion, Viola Davis is a better fit for Nina Simone. I think she would portray Nina very well.

    @ Jasmin. I would love to see Taraji P. Henson portray Ms. Billie Holiday in a remake of Lady Sings the Blues.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nina.brewton Nina Brewton

    Amen. Shoot, I’m a little lighter but would be better than ZOE! Lol

  • Pingback: Zoe SaldanaReplacing Mary J Blige In ‘Nina’? « Celebnmusic247

  • Seriously?

    I am Afro-latina too and its nothin incorrect from what I read from omfg statement–Colorism is a huge global issue especially in the Latin community. I think the problem lies that people are tired of movie studios offering roles of stories of people, that is not their country that is not their history.To top it all of the acting may be sub-par to none and or the physical attributes are lacking.
    They want to see new faces and they want to see the story being done by someone who can truly embody the story not simply by looks but by culture as well to bring more of a realism appeal.
    Though I understand the role of any actors is to be able to portray other people stories but that doesn’t change for the most part the heart of what the audience wants too see.

  • http://Smith Cindy

    Dont go there. I don’t agree with this casting choice for a number of reasons but what you are saying is stupid. SHE IS BLACK FOOL! Don’t start putting the paper bag test out in the open when you need it! YOU ARE AS BAD A WHITE FOLKS! Sorry but as bad as ignorant white folks

  • http://gravatar.com/myjackson83 myjackson83

    I think what throws me off is not whether or not Zoe is black but she doesn’t look like Nina Simone…period. And its not a slight difference its an obvious difference that couldn’t be fixed with hair and makeup. Its a biopic its needs to be as true to Nina Simone as possible.Get an actress that looks the part.

  • Jen

    My problem with Zoe is not the lack of resemblance it is the simple fact that Zoe is not a deep gritty actor she just doesn’t have the depth, presence and charisma to play Nina Simone as well as that Nina was a tortured soul i don’t think Zoe can properly portray that. It just shows not much has changed in Hollywood dark skin black women are stilling playing the maids and slaves in fact Adepero Oduye is going to be in the film 12 years a slave starring Michael Fassbender and of course she probably be a slave girl.

  • Jen

    Lets be honest with ourselves Zoe is much much lighter than Nina but i do agree there isn’t one version of African beauty

  • Jen

    Is not just her appearance she doesn’t have any presence or depth am sorry personally am please for her as a woman of colour but in terms of her acting i have never been too impress.

  • OGYaHerd

    its not the african-ness – its the color issue: in america, light skin folk get a better shake than dark skin folk if you’re honest about it. this is especially true for women, and the worst for “dark-skinned” women that don’t fit the euro mold – straight hair, pointed nose, narrow lips… its like jeffrey wright playing mlk, or elizabeth taylor playing cleopatra. it’s hollywood once again showing a version of history as they would have it seen… besides, aren’t they playing the latina card with zoe as well?

  • Get real!

    @ Yasin

    Being in denial only makes one look like a complete fool with their head buried up their…. Even worse, when one takes the time to insult someone else who disagrees with one’s notion that colorism doesn’t exist…then you just look like a complete moron.

    Of course colorism exists in the Afro-Latino/a community! I know; I’ve heard it from the horse’s mouth. If you want to protest and say that not all Afro-Latinos/as are colorists, then great. I support that. But to act like it doesn’t exist while insulting someone else…simply idiotic, and a lie.

  • Get real!

    Oh for heaven’s sake! He/she means Saldana’s not BLACK black…fully black! As black as Nina Simone. Is it really that hard to comprehend?

  • Get real!

    @ Yasin

    STFU! The sentiments expressed by mdeborah are real and happen all the time! Clearly she’s been burned badly. All Afro-latinos are not like she described, but A LOT…too many… are. I know you can’t handle that reality, but it’s true. So get a clue and stop pissing on someone else’s pain!

    I so want peace among the races. But it irritates me when idiots act like bias doesn’t exist. Get over it cause it’s 2012, right? Bullsh*t!

  • Get real!

    @ mdeborah

    Clearly, you’re off-loading a lot of pent up pain and anger. Hope that getting it off your chest allows you to focus on the good. As you acknowledged, there are decent folks in the Afro-Latino community, as with other communities. Focus on that, and don’t allow the bitter sting of racism from an idiotic few (relatively speaking) to turn you into an even bitter person. Not good for your soul, and not good for your development as a caring human being.

  • http://gravatar.com/geedoggee geedoggee

    IF they allow Zoe t play Nina(I hope NOT!) Then- Vivivca Fox gets to play Celia Cruz.

  • http://gravatar.com/ohyeaohyea yea, i said it, what?

    It’s not her color that makes her a mismatch for the role, although they aren’t the same color, it’s that they look nothing like Nina and who knows if she can sing. They might as well have cast Joaquin Phoenix- at least he has proven acting & singing ability as Johnny Cash.

  • http://gravatar.com/ohyeaohyea ohyeaohyea

    I doubt if Zoe is gonna shave her head for this role. If she does, there goes the movie roles for the next few years.

  • lil ray

    Estelle looks the part now if she can act or not i dont know.

  • http://gravatar.com/rgibbs75 Bump21

    Just my opinion. . . it’s not whether Zoe is black or not black enough or whatever the debate is. She is a talented black sistah! Period! I think the real frustration by Black Americans is that Hollywood is constantly trying to whitewash our history. Not only ours, but other ethnicities also. They try to pull off using the most “caucasian” looking person they can. And it is especially insulting when there are other just as talented actresses that get passed over. I think Hollywood tries to appeal to the masses and someone too dark (they believe) is not going to pull the “masses” into the theater. Again, just my opinion.

  • Barbara

    @Shelly….You couldn’t have said it better!!!!!!

    Plus, Zoe has stated that she is not Black and she does NOT like BLACK MEN!!!

  • flip

    like to see the singer Estelle for the role.

  • http://google.com mary

    is this really about skin color?

  • http://www.thefashioncult.com mary

    I will go see it. & I’m sure lots of other will, too. Not everyone is so preoccupied with the appearance factor.

  • http://google.com me

    Not true.

  • http://www.thefashioncult.com Mary

    As a darker-than-a-paper-bag woman with tightly coiled hair, I understand the feelings of ongoing rejection that many a black woman feels. But friends, the BITTERNESS HAS GOT TO STOP. This casting is such a non-issue that the real story is really the hate-filled reaction to it all. Sure, Saldana was certainly cast partly because of her star power. Why do you think 90% of Hollywood actors work?! This is like complaining that Miss America pageant doesn’t have enough size 12 women. You are barking up the wrong tree. If you want a different type of actress for a Nina Simone biopic, then go make your own movie.

  • http://www.retailobsessed.com LT

    Zoe Saldana is a great actress and I know she’s going to bring it. But I think that someone like Viola Davis, Aisha Hinds or Adepero Oduye in that role would have translated better. Noone is having an easy time seeing Zoe play Nina Simone.

  • Anthony

    Having a petite, long haired, brown skinned, woman play Nina Simone makes as much sense as having a 5′ 2″ man play Wilt Chamberlain in a biopic. A biopic should make a serious effort to pick actors that look like the person being depicted. We all know that skin has a heavy impact on the lives of all black people, and especially black women. To act as if that is not the case int he life of Nina Simone is just silly, furthermore, it suggests that black people are interchangeable, and that any one of us could stand in for another.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bonita.otey Bonita Powers Otey

    But there is only ONE VERSION of Nina’s beauty. And her looks played a huge part in how she was treated and that had to infiltrate her music choices and how she carried herself. Yes, Zoe Saldana is a beautifully talented actress but she bears no physical resemblance to Nina Simone. I agree with Miss Ivy: Viola Davis first choice, India Arie second choice.

  • http://www.overflowradio.tv soulfullyreal

    Other than Viola, none of the suggested actress/ singers would be able to support a major film in a leading role. And Viola may be too old, though if she isn’t would be the best choice. Zoe could gain weight, but her features are nothing like Simone’s, like, not even a lil bit.

  • Tanya

    Zoe Saldana and Nina Simone have absolutely nothing in common. Bad, bad match. I would have no interest in seeing the film. Having learned just the little bit that I know about Ms. Simone, there is nothing heavy enough or dark enough about Ms. Saldana. She is cream puff. Ms. Simone’s legacy deserves more than that. Any of the other actresses mentioned would seem to do more justice. She always wanted justice and an even playing field. Either do this role justice or don’t do it at all!

  • http://gravatar.com/xdecadent xdecadent

    Can we please stop with this ‘one drop rule’ mess? That is some slave master/plantation mentality.

    For the record Etta disapproved of Bey portraying her – she didnt think she was gritty enough for the role. And no, Beyonce did not convince me one bit.

  • Pingback: Zoe Saldana transformed to resemble Nina Simone spark new discussions of coming biopic | The AC Green Show

  • November

    I agree with those who understand this is about whitewashing and nothing else. No one would or should hire Drake to play James Brown in a biopic. There are plenty of talented dark-skinned actresses with natural hair that could have played the funk out of this role. I would not have selected a singer. The sistah who plays Michonne on Walking Dead would have been fierce!

  • http://gravatar.com/thevirtualnationofafricanamericans Ken Kojei

    Guess what folks? First: It’s not your business who he casts as Nina Simone. It’s not your film, you’re not spending the money and unless you are your opinion is just that. Opinion!!! Nothing is stopping you from digging in your pockets and telling the same story the way YOU want to tell it. Right??? I mean you DO have the money to make a film like this right?

    Next: Zoe Saldana played a blue skinned alien with a tale and a totally tribal/primitive social being so well she changed, forever my definition of sexy. She played a being with an incredible mix of both animal and human qualities and she acted da hell out of that role. That said, I have absolutely no doubt she will play Nina Simone with the same power. Even if she falls flat on her face, she will still do better than most because she is a REAL actress. Not a line reader on film. She will do her homework and she will do well.

    By the way, for you folks who don’t know, who are beating up on her because she is not black ENOUGH, let’s get down to your real feelings. This projection of that icky attitude all over a project that hasn’t happened yet, is nothing more than rank jealousy and inappropriate, mis-educated rancor at a woman who goes her own way, refuses to adopt the same tired “cultural” cliches that make insecure black men and women comfortable that she is “one of us”. And what that means to all fringe dwellers who can’t just be is—a. We get to be “all up in your business” when we should be tending our own. b. We have the right to pull you down and dog talk about you whenever you get out of line, as if we own you. Strange that a people so sensitive to being owned can’t help trying to own other people. That is the really indelible imprint of slavery on African American minds. That nasty group mind that belongs to crabs in a barrel. Get over it.

  • http://gravatar.com/thevirtualnationofafricanamericans Ken Kojei

    So what you’re really saying is she can’t have had enough of a black experience to successfully portray the struggles of Nina Simone as a black woman. And what that presupposes is that petite, long haired, brown skinned, women somehow don’t have the same black experience as a very dark skinned woman with nappy hair? My mother fits the description you make of Zoe. Only she was much fairer in complexion. You think she had a so much better black experience? Or a less black experience? Then you’re wrong!!!

    She and women even lighter in complexion had horrible experiences [both during and after slavery], including rape by black men-because of her color and her hair, she worked as a maid in a white man’s house and had to watch her P’s and Q’s carefully when around white men. She endured the racism of white women, their condescending pale attitudes and often I, a young child, witnessed the hurt she experienced but never let them see. I saw it. I saw her potentials being denied, wasted in America before civil rights. I saw the hatred darker skinned women blazed at her for no good reason except that she might want their men. She was a pariah in both worlds, the world of black people AND the world of white people.

    There is nothing so unforgivable of African Americans or white Americans for that matter than that race REMAINS the idiotic issue it is. That color has anything to do with character. It never has and it it never will mean anything except to the fool it does. To even have to address this issue in this conversation in 2013 is shameful.

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