Is Zoe Saldana A Victim Of Colorism?

by Yesha Callahan

Zoe Saldana recently retweeted the following:

Now a retweet can be taken in several different ways. It could either mean she’s cosigning the sentiment, or felt the need to share someone’s opinion about the subject thats been brewing for some time now. Either way, she’s apparently feeling some kind of way about it.

The possibility of Saldana being casted as Nina Simone has received a lot of backlash. People have said she just doesn’t have the talent to pull off such a role, that she’s not a singer, but mainly because of her aesthetics.

Whereas the tweet is citing ‘racism’, it may be more appropriate if it mentioned colorism. Although Saldana has claimed many times that she is a black woman, apparently to many people she isn’t black enough to portray Nina.

““When I go to the D.R., the press in Santo Domingo always asks, “¿Qué te consideras, dominicana o americana?” (What do you consider yourself, Dominican or American?) I don’t understand it, and it’s the same people asking the same question. So I say, time and time again, “Yo soy una mujer negra.” (“I am a black woman.”) [They go,] “Oh, no, tú eres trigueñita.” (“Oh no, you are ‘dark skinned’”) I’m like, “No! Let’s get it straight, yo soy una mujer negra.” (“I am a black woman).”

How many times must she yell, that she is a black woman? Just because she comes from a spanish speaking country, doesn’t mean she’s any less blacker (yeah it’s not a than the next black chick.

Many people have written posts, tweets and blogs about Saldana not having dark enough skin, “blacker” features, or resembling Nina Simone. Unfortunately, not everyone can be Halle Berry as Dorothy Dandridge. Just because she’s’ not in the latest Tyler Perry movie, or tends to have white men as love interests in the movies she’s appeared in, doesn’t make her any less black than the next black actress. For the people who’ve cited that maybe she can’t pull off the role because of a lack of talent, that’s another matter of opinion. Personally, if I had to weigh her talent against Mary J. Blige’s, who was originally up for the role, I’d put my money on Zoe.

Hollywood is going to do what Hollywood wants to do. We’ve already seen them turn Angelina Jolie into a bi-racial black woman. Hollywood is only concerned with making the dollars at the box office.

You could also bring up the fact that Angela Bassett, looked nothing like the lighter Tina Turner, but she did get that role and was fucking amazing. No one yelled or hollered about that. Sure, there are probably more talented actresses out there, but if they were lighter as well, would the talent surpass their color?

  • Mademoiselle

    People are still up in arms about the unauthorized telling of Nina Simone’s story?

    Oh, and what exactly is “reversed” in this form of racism, if that’s what the tweeter is going to claimed this as?

  • Colette Marcheline (@Cognorati001)

    Getting out the popcorn. The comments will be interesting to say the least.

  • QB727

    What this article ignores is that Nina Simone’s looks played a big role in her life an career. She suffered greatly due to colorism and for having “black” facial features. To cast Zoe Saldana means they’ll either have to gloss over that or it won’t come across well on screen.

  • Dawn

    hollywood butchers ppls life stories…I’m sure that’s already gone

  • Yb

    “but if they were lighter as well, would the talent surpass their color?”

    This line is what is used to justify whites playing the roles of east Asians, the whitening of ancients Egyptians, and arguing that a black girl shouldn’t play the role of a girl described as having “dark satiny skin” and “dark hair.”

    I have never heard the reverse of this. None one has ever argued that some one blacker, darker, and ethnic should play the role of some one light and white when it comes to talent. Let’s save the bull. The only thing Zoe is a victim her own privilege and people being sick of it. Zoe is an Morena/Mulatta Latina not a dark skinned Black American.

  • Colette Marcheline (@Cognorati001)

    The article is incredible on literal sense on so many levels.

    1)Reverse racism is a meaningless term. Racism exists and anyone can be racist, it’s just the effects that are dramatically different. Essentially, the most that Blacks can do as anti-White racists is hurt White peoples’ feelings; Whites can and have oppressed people in every element of society.

    2)If Saldana identifies as Black, why is she citing reverse racism? Wouldn’t that only be applicable if she were a White actress suffering backlash from Blacks? By admitting that she’s experiencing “reverse racism” from Blacks, she’s also admitting that the central argument — that she is not Black American and shouldn’t be standing in or hijacking the story of a dark-skinned Black American woman– is true.

    3)Nina Simone’s undeniable African features were a huge part of her lived experiences and afro-centrism. Having an obviously mixed, Latin woman play her is like altering any other crucial element of her life story: it’s like saying she was born in the North, or in 1990, or never moved to France.

    This is why Black people need to be telling our own stories in all their intricacies (regardless of what countries we are from,etc). The (White) producers and writers don’t even seem to comprehend how significant this issue is because they’ve never lived it.

    BTW: I’m an ethnically mixed Black Latin (Saldana and I are about the same color and have similar hair texture, etc) and I’m saying that someone who looks like me doesn’t have the right to play Nina Simone.

  • Dani

    Zoe Saldana is a black/negro Dominican. She is Latin, she is Dominican, she is American, she is Black but she is not African-American. That is probably why they kept asking her if she is Dominican or American, because being a black Dominican and an African-American are two different cultures and in the movie she is not representing her culture. She is only playing a character and that is how Saldana feels, it is not relevant whether or not she is representing her culture– it is only a movie for christ sakes. Therefore, she responds: I AM A BLACK WOMAN. because she can play Nina Simone due to somewhat related ethnic features.

  • Pseudonym


    First, there’s no such thing as “reverse racism.” The reverse racism would be “not racism.”

    Second, have you seen photographs of Nina Simone? as QB said, her looks play a very big part in her life and career- and I feel like lot of that comes out in her songs.

    Here is why this casting is catching fire:

    When has a light-skinned or mixed-race historical figure been played by a dark-skinned nappy headed actress? I am pretty sure that was never. But did Oprah and Tyler Perry recast the dark-skinned dreadlocked (specifically described and these features were key to the teacher’s influence on Precious in the book) in “Precious” with a mixed-race (esp. light-skinned, straight-haired) Paula Patton? Yes. Do two dark skinned parents on television and in movies constantly have biracial children- at least light-skinned curly headed daughters? Yes. Do two light-skinned parents on television have dark skinned daughters with braids and beads? No.

    In this particular case, Zoe Saldana is not a victim of colorism;

    Nina Simone’s legacy is.

    This move is straight from the days when black artists would make records and white band members would be thrown on the cover to make them “marketable.”

    I looooooooooove Zoe Saldana and have for years- I’ve even seen the low-budget independent movies she’s done. But she and her supporters have to realize that none of this is to charge her with being any more or less black than anyone. Just be real with us for a second, stop being defensive, look at a picture of Zoe and Nina, and consider the context of how blacks are represented in Hollywood: casting her as Nina Simone is definitely an attempt to Europeanize Nina Simone. That is undeniable.

  • Greg Dragon

    Of course she’s a victim of colorism but any black woman darker than milk chocolate is allowed to throw shade the other way and will fight you if you call them on it. This is why you will find many commenting in support of dissing Saldana. Crabs will be crabs.

  • Colette Marcheline (@Cognorati001)

    She doesn’t look like Nina Simone in the slightest and it’s significant because of how Nina Simone was perceived and challenged as a dark-skinned Black woman.

    Halle Barry shouldn’t be playing Nina Simone either, and neither should Rashida Jones.

  • TAE

    bingo. Nina’s appearance was a large part of her life story and career. I have a personal interest in this because Nina Simone is a relative of mine as in my grandmother, who is Nina’s niece, grew up in the same house with her. I used to visit Nina’s mother every Sunday with my grandmother, her granddaughter, as a girl. I was present at Grandmother Waymon’s, Nina’s mother funeral, as was Nina. I spent the summer with Nina’s brother and sister in law, Uncle John and Aunt Carol, in Sacremento two years ago. I’m not throwing that out there to boast, I just wanted to provide factual information that we are indeed related and quite closely at that.

    With that being said several family members have told me I look like Nina when she was younger, and I was often ridiculed in grade school for my facial features, Nina’s features. We have the same nose, same lips. When I found out about who Nina was I felt a special connection to not only because I am also an artist and the “afrocentric” and “militant” one in my family but I also connected with her pain and struggle and looking at her face gave me a new found pride in my face because I saw myself in it. I said all that to say that I love Zoe like the next woman, she’s an incredible actress and she puts her thang down, no question, but it’s kind of sad to me that the woman playing my great aunt, the woman I resemble, looks nothing like her or me. It’s not about me though it’s about what that represents. What happened to Nina in the industry concerning her “lack” of beauty is still happening today and her physical appearance and presence as this chocolate skinned, broad featured goddess was quite powerful and affecting and I feel that seeing a woman who physically resembles Nina on screen will make that point and that power, that experience tangible for the viewer. Why couldn’t they have gotten India Arie which or Heather Headley, both resemble Nina and both are musicians. That’s Hollywood. I’ve thought about writing the studio and maybe speaking to my family members to see if they feel as strongly as I do, but I doubt it would make a difference though.

  • Jaz

    “any less blacker”~ Let’s try to do better.

  • ImJustSaying

    What she’s saying is “Stop asking me to pick Dominican or American, I’m a Black woman” so the “reverse” Racism is coming from her own people. i.e. You’re too latina to be included in the black family but you’re too “American” to be incuded in the Latina family. She and other Actresses of Island Descent (for lack of a better term) have spoken on being asked by agents and casting directors to “choose one” are you black or latin you can’t be both no matter what your heritage shows.

    Did she ask to be a lighter chick with a thinner nose and straighter hair? NOPE God made her that way and that’s fine by me. So why do we jump on her for having these features?

    Now on the Nina Simone point- No she is far from a physical match to Ms. Simone BUT she didn’t call up the director and say I SHALL BE NIA! I’m sure there was a script sent she went in did the damn thang and they picked her. She did what she is trained to do ACT. The casting director is the one who should be picked apart for lack of common sense. And if it’s not her who knows who was next on the list. As fasr as acting goes i’m sure she can handle it.

  • Sick

    I am sorry Yesha, you just don’t get it. It is probably because you were not around in the sixties to understand the Black Power movement, the Afrocentric look of the sixties and early seventies. Nina was an icon, an Afrocentric icon, to whom Black men and women felt epitomized Black Beauty. She was a deep, intelligent and fascinating woman and whoever plays her should not be a lightweight!!!!!! She should also look the part. Saldana playing Nina would be like Mayim Bialik (from the Big Bang) playing Marilyn Monroe! Desperately wrong casting there. Yesha, perhaps you should read her autobiography.

  • bk chick

    Context, Context, Context. Let’s not pretend that Hollywood does not favor lighter skinned black women or mixed, bi-racial women, to represent blackness in a positive light. Most of the type, darker skinned black women are type cast as some kinda of mamie/maid/ big, singing, loud, stereotype. So, when Hollywood gets a chance to document the life of an extraordinary black women who made her mark in history, it makes total sense to be up in arms about casting a lighter woman to play her. It fits right along with the message Hollywood sends: Black isn’t beautiful. So to me, sitting and arguing about whether or not Zoe is black, or has the chops to play Nina blah blah blah, is irrelevant once you consider the context. I think people are protesting the continual “white washing” of black people, rather than Zoe herself.

    “Hollywood is going to do what Hollywood wants to do. We’ve already seen them turn Angelina Jolie into a bi-racial black woman. Hollywood is only concerned with making the dollars at the box office.”

    That is exactly why I stopped going to the movies. It’s full of pre-packaged recycled shit, recycling actors such as Zoe once they prove they can bring in box office numbers. Studios never take any risks, so you end up with most of the crap you see today (Finding Nemo, re-released in 3-D?, yea I’ll pass). Black people are not the only victims of stereotyping either, if you pay attention, mostly all movies have the same themes and the same stories and same characters of movies you’ve probably seen less than six months ago. I don’t even bother, therefore, I avoid feeling some type of way about Zoe being cast as Nina….*sigh* –end rant. Lol.

  • African Mami

    Aesthetics in telling Nina Simone’s story, play a vital role, whether you want to accept that or not. Nina’s story would not be complete without an accurate depiction of what she underwent through, because of her color. Zoe Saldana of course, is NOT that woman! We are not denying her blackness, but she would not do the role any justice. Let’s be honest, this chick meets the Hollywood criterion [thin, tall, curveless, straight hair].

    Now, with that out of the way, I call bull on the “victim”, allusion. She just does not fit the bill of the role, FULLSTOP. The use of the term “victim” is an exaggeration to justify her as being perfect for the role, abeg!There are other actress who do, and in my opinion, are way more [like INCREDULOUSLY ]talented than Zoe, to pull of a Nina Simone, which is one heck of a complex character to play. And yes, they are the same complexion as Nina-shoot me! Viola Davis, Adepero Oduye.

    *grabs me some popcorn from Collette, and pops a bottle of Baileys* Let the party begin, officially!!

  • SS25

    Nina had soul and was proud of color and race(Afro-American). I don’t think Zoe can translate that on screen. Also Jennifer Lopez got for portraying Selena because she wasn’t Mexican so, it happens in all cultures not just black.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    i take it there are no dark skinned actress in hollywood?

  • Sick

    What happened to my comment?

  • Colette Marcheline (@Cognorati001)

    That’s a really good example (ie, Jennifer Lopez in Selena).. I think it’s extremely similar.

  • bk chick


  • SS25

    *got heat

  • Dara Diani

    I admire zoe saldana and her pride in her african roots (many latinos darker than her deny their blackness) but honestly i believe that someone who looked like nina simOne should have gotten the role so many times are dark skinned girls bypassed for light skinned girls she can act but she shouldnt have gotten the role.

  • Colette Marcheline (@Cognorati001)

    Viola Davis would be amazing — her scene in “Doubt” (I believe was the name of the movie) with Streep was awe inspiring. It had to have been some of the best acting in the last 30 years.

  • Dawn

    Lol …you’d think some of you had money at stake in this movie

  • Dawn

    And I don’t see where the author said it was reverse racism…the tweet said it

  • Izal

    Black women love arguing about hair and complexion! Get it together black women! There is more to life than HAIR TEXTURE AND COMPLEXION!

  • xdecadent

    You are totally missing the point. This is not a matter of throwing shade – it is whitewashing. Plain and simple. Nina’s looks play a BIG part in her struggle as an artist. To cast an obviously mixed race woman is totally disrespectful to Simone’s legacy.

    No one is dissing Saldana. This just doesnt make any sense.Elizabeth Taylor had no business playing Cleopatra and Zoe has no business playing Nina.

  • SS25

    If the main character was Latina and a Afro-American woman was picked for the role, don’t think for one second there wouldn’t be some sort of backlash from the Latino community. This is not a crab in the barrel situation, it protecting the legacy of a beautiful black queen and doing her justice on the silver screen.

  • binks

    Nah they are there but usually have to play the mammy, the help, Jezebel and precious type roles. As for Zoe S. I don’t think nobody is denying her stance as a black woman or attacking it but I don’t see her in this role. But funny when people want to play victim and holla colorism when most of the time they benefit from it…and let’s be honest people like Halle Berry, Zoe S. and a few others benefit from it because they fit Hollywood standards of being the “right type of black” because even though they are good actors they aren’t great. And all this “reverse racism and discrimation” is a joke. We always yell that we need more representation of black in Hollywood so when we voice our critique it’s “reverse racism” GTFOH. Please the powers that be behind the scenes in Hollywood isn’t dumb

  • binks

    Grr how did this reply to Jamesfrmphilly get down here…

  • binks

    Oh and Tina Turner and Angela Bassett skin coloring and some features wasn’t that far off I suggest the author to google Angela as Tina because a few pics of the real Tina and Angela side by side pops up and they nearly look identical in certain sequences

  • LaNubiana

    Bloody hell! This ain’t no bloody reverse racism! What in the bloody hell is reverse racism anyway? Nina Simon was a bloody dark skinned sister who bloody was discriminated for her bloody dark skin, kinky hair, curvious bloody beautiful body. Whereas Zoe is what the Western world bloody idolize as ‘black beauty’ skinny, tall, boy shaped, light skinned, etc.. Bloody hell, Zoe is everything Nina Simon wasn’t physically and Nina possessed a certain comlexity that Zoe could never convay as an actress. The bloody truth is that Zoe doesn’t look like Nina and does not have the skills for such role. The legendary Nina Simons deserves better!! This bloody makes me upset!! As a fan of the late great Nina Simon, who in my opinion was an amazing artist and activists, this is not right. Next thing you know Brad bloody Pitts will be playing Barak Obama?

    How about casting dark skinned actresses who actually are skilled such as Viola Davis or India Arie as she could actually sing?

  • Perspective

    I don’t get sistas sometimes. I support the sistas who say she’s not black enough. The other women who say she is black enough…to them…

    “How many times must she yell, that she is a black woman? Just because she comes from a spanish speaking country, doesn’t mean she’s any less blacker than the next black chick.”

    Yea, up until brothas decide to have a beauty contest. Then the claws come out. All I’m going to say is be careful of who you want to co-sign, because there’s no coming back from labeling her a true black woman. She’s black when she’s dating white men, but the buck stops when a brotha with a lil bit a paper starts to date her and they throw her on a couple of magazines with the brotha as arm candy. Then it’s a problem. Now it’s she’s not India Arie looking enough.

    That’s what I can stand. Blackness for black women seems to be conditional.

  • African Mami


    THIS COMMENT is giving me life! YAZZZZZ!! CHURCH.

  • peasinapod

    I don’t see the huge deal over this. Zoe Saldana has pretty apparent African features to me more so than any popular African American actress today and she is dark skinned compared to lighter skinned actresses. Just because she’s a black Latino women doesn’t mean she hasn’t struggled in life. I guess my perspective is different since I’m from the carribean.

  • Pseudonym

    We have stake in Hollywood’s treatment of dark-skinned kinky-haired black women given that some of us currently have or will have beautiful dark skinned kinky haired daughters, granddaughters, and great granddaughters who may internalize these messages.

    People like to think kids don’t notice race early, but I can distinctly remember being 2 1/2 and 3 years old (my memory is freakishly good) and wondering why the Barbie that looked like me was always shown smaller and in the back corner while the white Barbie was up front and center in the commercials in the 80s.

  • SS25

    You have got to be joking. How can she have more African feature than any popular African-American actress? Make’s no sense. Let’s see we Viola Davis, Sanaa Lathan, Issa Rae, Alfre Woodard, etc. Your perspective is different is because you’re ignorant to Afro-American history

  • Nubiahbella

    First off,

    In which world Zoe is seen as a light skinned woman (next to who? she’s not even in Beyonce category) with her so-called European features, let me have a laugh. People do confuse race and ethnicity. If her roots wouldn’t have been brought up no one would have ever thought of questioning her racial background.

    Also I think some are seeing Nina way more darker than she really was..

    I don’t deny she doesn’t have the acting chop to carry such a role but claiming her being Latina doesn’t qualify her, yet AA can play Africans ( Jennifer Hudson/Winnie Mandela, Forest Whithaker (sp?) The last king, Terrence Howard/Nelson Mandela etc…).

    Personally I am just happy they didn’t think of Halle Berry or Beyonce for the role, since they are the only “Black” actresses available.

  • Pseudonym

    I just did GoogleImages and binks is right.

  • CheebaCat

    Negro Please!

    It’s colorstruck black males that perpetuate this color hierarchy. in the doomed black collective.

    Trying to deny that fact is futile at this point….

  • Ms. Information

    I agree with most of the posters…it is nothing personal against Zoe..but Beyonce shouldn’t play Celia Cruz in a movie either…I also understand that Hollywood could not care less about the variations of being black..they are focused on revenue..and Zoe would bring the revenue they seek….the result of the backlash will be interesting.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    saldana looks african to you? really?

  • Anthony

    Just like it was goofy when Aretha Franklin suggested that Halle Berry play her in a movie, Zoe Saldana playing Nine Simone is a bad idea. Nine Simone was a real person, and anyone can see her image with about five seconds worth of searching on the web. She deserves to portrayed by someone who bears a basic resemblance to her.

  • Marisa

    First off for the final time there is no such thing as reverse racism. Reversed how and by who sure a heck aint black folks. What power do we have to enslave anybody. Who have blacks banned from shared public transportation,restaurants,schools etc, who have we put in cotton fields and on auction blocks to be sold off and a thousand more other atrocities too many to name. Til that has happened then the term reverse racism will actually be legit. Secondly Zoe is WRONG for this role,I’m not asking for the actor to be an exact twin of their role. Come on when I saw Denzel I bought him as Malcolm X,bought Angela and Laurence as Ike and Tina,bought Jaime as Ray,no way am I buying Zoe as no Nina Simone. Seems like a waterdown version Hollywood is trying to push

  • Anthony

    She sure does. Lord knows everyone in Sub Saharan Africa is not super dark with round features.

  • Echi

    “You could also bring up the fact that Angela Bassett, looked nothing like the lighter Tina Turner…”

    And you liken the difference between Simone and Saldana to that of Bassett and Turner???

    Yeah, I can’t even take this article seriously….

  • ANthony

    I don’t want to see Saldana playing Nina Simone. The producers owe to the memory of Nina Simone to pick someone who looks like her for the role.

  • Wong Chia Chi

    That’s the thing though. Aesthetically, she did complement Selena. Not to say they couldn’t have found a Mexican actress to play her but she at least looked like the woman.

  • George Doctanian (@GeorgeDoctanian)

    First off, there’s no such thing as reverse racism. That concept is fucking retarded. That’s like saying there’s a such thing as reverse hatred. Hate is hate.

    Secondly, it does matter. Dark skinned women are poorly represented in the media. They’re quick to cast a dark skinned women in the role of Precious, but when it comes to a black woman who’s being portray positively, they’ll quickly scramble and find a light skinned actress and use the “she’s still black” excuse. I love all my sistas of every shade; If Rhianna or Meagan Good asked me out I’ll jump on that in an instant, but c’mon, seriously. You wouldn’t have Don Cheadle’s black ass play the role of Prince, would you?

  • ?!?

    Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone to me is just not right. It’s similar to getting a brunette to play Marilyn Monroe and not having her dye her hair or a blonde to play Jackie O. Would Hollywood ever do that? Heck no! I find it amazing that people in Hollywood actually think it’s okay to cast Zoe as Nina. What were they really thinking?

    Well she’s one of the biggest female stars in Hollywood now of black ancestry. Actually probably the biggest. She’s the new Halle Berry. I’m sure they were thinking star power rather than likeness. Were they just trying to get a pretty woman? What about Gabrielle Union? Tika Sumpter for goodness’ sake! This is just like Beyonce in Dreamgirls and Cadillac Records. It’s about star power.

  • chanela17

    NOPE! singers neither. the only dark skinned singer i could think of is kelly rowland. everybody else is light skinned

  • anon

    She’s a purveyor and facilitator of colorism – a pawn for the cause. Her disposition is to trivialize the USUAL and continuous colorism committed against the broader, darker and kinkier within the black aesthetic spectrum.

    The suggestion that she is a victim of colorism and reverse racism placates the race card issue, and uses reverse psychology to justify the continued perpetuation of white, and racially privileged (mixed race), supremacy and white, and racially privileged, ideology of main stream society.

  • arlette

    this is just really stupid, it has nothing to do with colorism or reverse racism(whatever that is). its just that she simply does not look like Nina, simples. If there was a movie about bob Marley and they used Don Cheadle (random, i know) to play him i would be thinking wtf, and im dark skinned. imagine in biggie’s bio-pic him being played by some chris brown looking guy, it would not make sense. nina’s aesthetics had a lot to do with her music career so casting someone who looks nothing like her would be dumb.
    i don’t get people with this stupid victim mentality.

  • Beautiful Mic

    “Black people need to be telling our own stories.”

    The problem is the black people are segmented and fragmented, but white society disregards this – we tend to disregarding this i media and popular culture. That’s where it can become a problem.

    Nina Simone hails from a certain stock of Black people, of Black Americans…the same stock that invented Gospel Music, Jazz, the Blues, R&B and Rock and Roll. This stock of people have their own specific history, separate from Dominicans and Puerto Ricans of African descent. They had their own beauty ideals and social and aesthetic breeding tendencies. This all plays a part in why Nina Simone looked the way she did and why she and people of her stock were treated they were treated during her lifetime.

    Casting Saldana has different implications.

    Take for instance the movies Roots, the Color Purple and Daughters of the Dust …there is something powerful in watching a movie cast with actors who are directly affected by the specific historical legacy of the movie storyline. Their plight, sentiments and those of their relatives and direct ancestors align directly with that of the characters portrayed in the film. You know those cast appreciated the roles, the audience and the real stories portrayed. There was also a level of respect and regard for the story and characters.

    I just don’t see the correlation with Saldana and this role, especially after those interviews where she accused black women in Hollywood of being lazy and using the white racism they face as an excuse for not succeeding in the industry.

    And do think that black publications like Ebony Magazine support this chick. I don’t get it. Maybe it’s because Black American society is now mostly infiltrated with OTHER type blacks, not the stock of people who laid the foundation for black American identity.

  • anon

    There isn’t just a cultural distinction between Afro Dominican and African-American, but the history of aesthetic appreciation is different within each culture and identity.

    Yes, America also has it’s historical mixed race, racially privileged, groups who bred into, or toward, white or non-black social identity…but there has also been a segment of Black American people whose breeding practices resulted in physical traits that were less averaged between the different races. Mainly due to being socially ostracized, they bred in a way that preserved the aesthetic traits of their slave ancestors, the first ones who came off the boat. Among themselves, they found beauty in those traits.

    Among these people evolved the black power and black identity movements. If it were, alone, left up to the stock of ‘black’ or afro descended people who were deliberately breeding lighter or whiter, or in a way to maintain a middle phenotype in their posterity (a certain hair texture, skin tone, set of features)…would such a movement have ever happened? I don’t think so.

    Zoe Saldana does not represent this SPECIFIC aspect of Black history, let alone the stock of people in Black American history represented by Nina Simone. Neither her facial features, nor her personal history, tells that story. They, neither, tell the story of the social struggles and stigma that came with having those features and the racial/social status that came with them.

  • anon

    There is no such thing as less or more black.

    The way race labels are set up…the system trivializes the issues of aesthetic white-washing, cleansing, as well as colorsim…because it’s under the one drop rule pretext which deems us all the same no matter how diluted in features or bloodline compared to our fresh-of-the-boat African ancestors. The racial system helps to trivialize and justify this whole process.

    So, you can’t and shouldn’t use the defense of one person being more or less black than the next person.

  • pe.riche.

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I lived in the Caribbean for five years. What people fail to understand is that when ZS was growing up in the DR, she and her sisters were actually considered outcasts because they weren’t as “fair skinned” as other Dominicans (other words, they weren’t White Dominicans).

    While here in the U.S. she maybe considered to have fair skin, she is still indeed a Black woman. Just because she doesn’t look like the type of Black the other commenters here want her to look, that doesn’t make her any less than.

  • anon

    The breeding practices of Zoe Saldana’s ancestors and stock of people have different implications than the breeding practices of Nina Simone’s ancestors and stock of people.

    It’s well know, both historically and today, that the physical traits possessed by Nina Simone are shunned and repulsed in the Dominican Republic, in Puerto Rican, and within those immigrant, and immigrant descended, communities living in the United States. These are Saldana’s people, her face and sentiments represent that group. They breed in a way to obtain more racial privileged among whites. Look at Zoe Saldana and her career disposition, listen to her perspective of black American actresses, actresses with more deeply rooted American lineages and social heritage – it’s telling. She does NOT appreciate and is not fully cognizant of the plight of the deeply rooted stock of Blacks in this country. She’s an outsider, an 1 generation immigrant posterity, as well as a racial outsider. She USES the black racial identity against blacks, and she CAN because she’s or racial privileged stock stemming from the social heritage of her Dominican and Puerto Rican heritage. Look at who she dates…

    Again, white people tend to lump all African descended people in the same boat, especially when it serves advantageous in disregarding, and trivializing, discrimination, and bias, against broader, darker and kinkier aesthetic traits – straight-of-the-slave-ship traits.

  • anon

    Maybe, a little Ethiopia-Habesha, perhaps she could pass for a Coloured South African, a Nigerian Igbo, or any mixed raced African National identified African who won’t go into the specifics of their non-African racial make-up. There are a growing number of Zoe Saladana looking people in Africa for the very same damn reason the producer thought it suitable to cast her in this film.

  • anon

    Angela has the same chiseled cheek bone structure as Tina Turner. And by some accounts, close-in-proximity skin color since it’s suggested that Turner has lightened her skin over the years.

  • anon

    In the classical sense, Zaldana is not negra, but morena. Americana Morena.

  • Egypt

    @ African Mami

    Totally agree!

    @ Colette

    Viola Davis would have been perfect for this role.. Love her work.

  • simplyme

    Hmm…Everyone wants to be the victim… obviously she wants the job because it her own career, but I’m sure even she deep down realizes that her casting is “off”. I think its safe to say that anyone familiar with Nina Simone would wrinkle a brow seeing Zoe in the film.

    I wish her the best though and hope she can pull it off, but it isn’t reverse racism that people want to see a character that actually looks like the person they’re supposed to be playing… I honestly don’t see Zoe Saldana as “lighter” skinned…she’s brown….so colorism isn’t the issue. But its just that her features are completely different…sharper and pointier and thinner lips… while Simone’s are more rounded and she had full lips. They don’t even mildly resemble each other… and I think thats whats throwing people off. If anything, the racism here is the systematic prejudice in Hollywood, that consistently has people who happen to have more stereotypically “Western” features playing people of color with more ethnic features. Its not just a Black thing either… I still shudder every time I remember Jake Gyllenhaal in Prince of Persia.

  • edub

    That’s my take on it. If you are so vested in Nina being accurately portrayed, then invest your money into a film and make it happen. The growing gap between our complaints/slights/inequalities and our actions leave us all the more stagnant.

    It’s tiring, actually.

  • Tun up

    I guess Zoe’s pulled a Mariah Carey on us. I remember reading an interview of hers in Suede Magazine a little while back and she clearly stated she wasn’t black. Since then I have never supported her work.

  • ChillyRoad


    Youre contradicting yourself. No she doesnt look like Nina Simone but she is and does look like a black woman. Her features are “African”. Iman is an African looking woman. Alek Wek is an African looking woman and none of these women look like Nina Simone or could play her but they are undeniably African looking.

    Why is it always black American women who decide who does and doesnt look African? Nina Simone isnt the standard for the way an African woman looks. Its a massive continent with people who look very different from each other.

    I really hate the light skinned witch hunt that occurs when we discuss light skinned women. Why must these women always be throw out of the gene pool because of the insecurities of other women?

    Zoe Saldana has as much European and Ameridian admixture as the average black American. She looks more like the average black AMerican woman than someone from Nigeria or GHana or Souther Sudan or South African.

  • ChillyRoad


    Yes, when these white (male) owned production companies, choose Halle Berry, and Zoe Saldana, and Beyonce to be in movies, its all black men’s fault.

    Youre too much of a coward to confront white society for their preference and promotion of light skinned black women.

  • LaNubiana

    @ anon

    Yes there are some mixed Africans nowadays. But to say she looks Ethiopian is incorrect. Ethiopians have Smitic blood so there is a distinct facial features we have.

  • hpymrzsimmons

    I can definitely see both sides of this argument. Zoe Saldana is an extremely talented actress and I have no doubt that she could probably pull off most roles assigned to her. The fact that she consistently identifies herself as a black woman signifies her strength as an individual. The fact is that (especially in the movie industry) doing so could have cost her roles that she fought hard for. Many times with black female actresses they are either considered 1. Too black and ethnic to relate to other races who may want to see the movie or 2. Not black enough to portray a black person because they won’t connect to other blacks. So, it’s a tough spot to be in. I can understand Zoe’s anger at people trying to take a role away from her when she considers herself black.

    On the other hand, I can understand the discomfort that fans of Nina Simone might have because of her overall story/experience. The fact that she was oppressed and turned away solely because of her looks would understandably make her family and fans want the person who portrays her to embody those same physical characteristics. That seems to be an effective way to have the audience connect with the emotions that Nina Simone was facing during those times.

  • CheebaCat

    @Chilly Cat

    Truth hurts you too much, I see.

    I’m far from bitter, idiot. Your colorstruck black males stay with keeping the color wars going.

    So stay mad. I know what I see, so kill all the gaslighting and deflecting for once.

  • African Mami

    and I BLOOOOOODY heart this comment!! YESSSSS!!! Say that again my African sister!!!! *snaps snaps snaps, all around*

    -Y do you make sooo much sense?!

  • paul


    I agree with most of the blue standard posters also, but this is the one that settles the argu-a-ment for me.

    Coz you mentioned my two favourite words

    Black Power

    Much Black Power to you too black woman.


  • Elegance

    I have heard that Halle Berry and Denzel Washington and Wesley Snipes have gotten roles written for White people. They got the roles because they were better actors, more famous, and more likely to bring in money. But I think it’s rare and because they are really famous. It has happened though.

  • CheebaCat

    Oh an I forgot to add, ChillyCat:

    White people pick up their cues from black people FROM OTHER BLACK FOLKS!

    They’re not blind to how black men have been running to any non-black women that fit their lightskin, longhair obsessions. This doesn’t make me bitter to express that, because it’s what I’ve observing for YEARS!

    The funny thing is, you know this as well, but hate to admit that.

    Zoe was cast because not only are these white directors, producers really ignorant of Nina’s (and pretty much any black person’s) story, they watching to see what’s trnding with black people as well, so that color thing is a blaring example.

    No shade to Zoe, but she’s so wrong for the role, and you know it too.

    And you know why…

  • AMB

    I dont know much about nina simone but i just googled her and i dont think Zoe should be the one to portray her… & thats just because there is no resemblance. They should try to find another.

  • Kim

    What is strange to me is why women like Saldana would want to portray African American women. I would feel embarrassed to acknowledge that no one is interested in “my story”, but the story of African American women, who I have no knowledge of and come from a certain group of folk who have nothing but disdain for African Americans. It makes folk like her look…….

  • Ms. Information

    lol…good comment.

  • Apple

    I actually kept my suede magazines and I looked at the article you speak of she never said she wasn’t proud to be black she said she didn’t see her self as black or Latina but just Zoe,hence she sees herself as a person and not just a color. So stop reaching

  • Apple

    Aww man i missed this train wreck of a comment section

  • Naffy

    Yep and no one pitched a fit when Denzel played Malcolm, whom he is a lot darker than.

  • LaNubiana

    Haha I think I bloody got a bit upset there :)

  • Child, Please

    Honestly, no one is going to be satisfied with who plays Nina Simone. I have heard more people complain about the casting choices than make a suggestion (that doesn’t have Viola Davis’ name in it) for who they would put their money on.

    To be honest, I didn’t get that Zoe was co-signing, but rather voicing her frustrations with having to choose her identity. It seems, judging from this thread (and spare me the “no, we don’t want her to play this role because she doesn’t look like her” bs) she’s too black to be a Latina (Colombiana) and not black enough to play an African-American (this role). Why must she or the next biracial/multiethinic person choose to accommodate others?

    As far as this movie is concerned, it’s unauthorized and the family isn’t supporting it (though they offered) so, don’t go see it. Instead, as someone else suggested, support an authorized version of the film if the family decides to produce one. I do wonder for all e Nina Simone fans in the world, why – as just a plain movie lover – people didn’t boycott the atrocities that any singer-wannabe-actor/actress have been in. If you want better quality, you can’t just demand it with this film. While the petition is a step, I find it insulting that it went this far and we have an actual decent actress in a film.

  • Kiki

    Bingo! Nina was NEVER embraced by color-struck blacks because she looked too ‘ethnic’ for the spotlight.

  • Overseas_Honeybee

    Zoe is not right for this part bottom line. Nothing against her color etc. but when I look at her build, mannerisms and overall look … I just do not see Nina. No amount of coaching or training would change that either.

    To me she does not connect to the character well enough to be believable onscreen. Beautiful and talented girl but she ain’t Nina.

  • Kiki

    I disagree. Mexicans were up in arms when PR JLO portrayed their beloved Selena. You best believe they’d throw a fit if a black American played one of their Latin icons.

  • Realityplease

    @ChillyRoad I disagree, you said America is a massive continent with many different looking people and then you go on to say that Zoe resembles the average black woman in America more than a whole bunch of African countries. The thing is, all of the countries you mentioned also have a wide variation of looks and features within their countries and therefore to say she looks more like an African american than someone from any of those other countries mentioned doesn’t make sense. Alex Wek and Iman are just two of the very many different looks there are in Africa, It is an invalidated generalisation.

    You’re right in saying that no one can say who does and doesn’t look African as there is no one “African look” however by generalising in your last paragraph, it seems as though you also have an opinion on how African women look.

    I don’t think this is a case of the “light skin witch hunt” or darker skinned women’s “insecurities” but more about being realistic and logical about a situation. When you tell a story about a person’s life you have a responsibility too tell it accurately and in a way that allows viewers who may never have heard of or seen the person, to get a good picture the person and events being described.

    In the same way it wouldn’t make sense to get a person with Nina’s features to play Etta James.. I mean they made sure that didn’t happen.. and have done so with many other biopics, its not rocket science especially when Nina’s features had so much to do with her story and career.

  • atljawja

    What?? That’s like being mad people are complaining about unemployment or the economy. The arguments won’t stop until the problem stops! Don’t get mad at people calling it out. Put that energy towards CHANGING discrimination towards kinky hair and darker skin.

  • Kiki

    Nobody is think about black men and their aesthetics. Everything’s not about you, dear. The issue at hand is how well an actress fits a role.

  • ChillyRoad

    “…all the gaslighting…”

    i.e disagreeing with me.

  • Realityplease

    I had to google that real quick!!! Its no comparison they aren’t that different in looks

  • ChillyRoad

    “White people pick up their cues from black people FROM OTHER BLACK FOLKS!”

    Blaming black people when white people dont love you.

    “They’re not blind to how black men have been running to any non-black women that fit their lightskin, longhair obsessions.”

    What the hell are you talking about?

    “This doesn’t make me bitter to express that, because it’s what I’ve observing for YEARS!”

    Youre projecting. Youre off topic, you sound like youve got anxiety issues.

    “The funny thing is, you know this as well, but hate to admit that.”

    I hate too admit that there are black women like you running around with such paranoia. You sound scared.

    “Zoe was cast because not only are these white directors, producers really ignorant of Nina’s (and pretty much any black person’s) story, they watching to see what’s trnding with black people as well, so that color thing is a blaring example.”

    Yes, because all of the colour struck black men are going to be filling the theatres to watch Zoe Saldana play Nina Simone. Lil Wayne will be hosting the after-party.

  • Lynette

    Don Cheadle is such a bad a$$ actor… I could see him pulling off the portrayal of Prince.

  • mrsmartin1123

    This is so taboo! Simply stated…if Zoe identifies with being a black woman…just let her. End of story. Black is beautiful, she’s beautiful and I’m proud of her. We got some african american folks not wanting to claim being black…so kudos to Zoe.

  • paul


    “Youre too much of a coward to confront white society for their preference and promotion of light skinned black women.”

    Nailed it to the wall.

    Too much intelligence in this joint lately. Every time I wanna say something I think is a lil out the box, someone’s already said it.

    But I got a big one comin up, which kinda takes this train of discussion on a lil further.

    Suffice to say that I think everyone’s kinda doing what you highlight above.

  • zie

    I actually like Zoe Saldana but, usually when they make a movie of someone they try to get someone that resembles the person. Let us all be honest there are no similarities. I think this would be a great opportunity for some other woman who is looking for a major Hollywood role.

    I believe that she is black. Maybe it is easier for me to understand because I am a black hispanic myself. No one questions me being black but when they hear that I have an hispanic side eyebrows raise.

  • SS25

    Hollywood asked them to chose along time ago, not the Afro-American community. She should be frustrated at them not us. I don’t think she has the talent or soul to portray a powerful woman like Nina.

  • Nic

    Thank you…a lot of us have no issue with Zoe’s blackness (seriously, I’m a dark-skinned Black American and I’ve been asked if I was “Dominicana” many times). Most Dominicans are Black. Not a little bit. A lot Black. Lots of dark skinned black people in the DR, and something like 90% of them are of African descent just as a quick FYI. So all of this, she’s not black should be shut down, just as the people claiming that those of us complaining about the casting are attacking her blackness should be shutdown. It is facile, lazy, and inaccurate.

    People are conflating a lot of issues that are not necessarily the issue that some of us have with Zoe playing Nina Simone.
    I don’t think Zoe Saldana is racially ambiguous, European looking (her nose is wider than mine), or non-black.

    But Nina Simone’s dark skin and very broad features played a significant role in her career and HER experience as a black woman.

    Sorry, like you said, we aren’t going to do the “Whoopi Goldberg Story” with Vanessa L. Williams. If someone’s looks and features are part of their story, then yes color and overall aesthetics matter. I remember thinking Denzel as Malcolm was crazy but a), Malcolm X’s light skin didn’t really seem to inform his experience as a black man, mainly b/c of when he grew up. He was Negro and having light skin or eyes gave him ZERO privilege. Two, Denzel killed that role in a way that Zoe Saldana will NEVER do with any role. Sorry, he’s an actor’s actor and always has been. She is not.

    If part of someone’s struggle was being called ugly or too dark, it all matters.

    And to try to shut down the discussion by accusing black people of reverse racism or colorism is laughable. Light skinned people get worshipped in the black community. They get treated like they are beautiful even if they are not. And if they are mistreated, it’s by people who are JEALOUS of the unearned privilege that they enjoy. I don’t envy or mistreat people who are lighter than me, or think they are better or prettier, but that doesn’t make it impossible for me to understand what happens when they do get bullied (most bullies are unhappy, insecure people).

    The only kind of racism white people want to acknowledge is “reverse” racism or so-called “black on black” racism. They want to claim that only black people mistreat other black people, and pretend that the micoagressions that they subject us to don’t exist or aren’t because of our skin color. If you believe white people, they’ve never done ANYTHING to us.

    Zoe Saldana has a lot more privilege within the black community b/c she isn’t TOO dark (although not light), and she has a lot of privilege with white people b/c they incorrectly perceive her ethnicity to be proof that she isn’t black, even though she would not stand out in a crowd of Black Americans.

    Race does NOT equal ethnicity, nor is it impossible to be Black and Latino (or Asian and Latino or White and Latino). And being Black and Latino doesn’t mean she’s less Black than me or anyone else. It is just SOME people who think Latinos are a separate race of people or are all these racially mixed exotic creatures (gag).

    And don’t sleep on the delight that white people take in accusing us of being the cause of all of the problems in Black America. No matter how many black men are murdered by police or vigilantes, or how many times they insult the looks and femininity of Michelle Obama or the Williams sisters, they will ALWAYS insert themselves into these discussions and stir the pot, pretending that we are so evil to each other.

    I refuse to let them do them just as I refuse to let them dictate how, when, and where I discuss the issues that pertain to my experience as a black person.

  • Nic

    Yeah, a lot of roles get whitened and lightened in Hollyweird.

    I don’t happen to find her features to be pointy. I’m not sure how anyone does. Sometimes she is heavily contoured with makeup but her nose is pretty wide. A LOT of Black actresses have much narrower features than Zoe and yet aren’t accused of being European looking (Rutina Weasley, Angela Bassett).

    For some reason, a LOT of non-dark black women are inaccurately described as having narrower features than they actually have. Weird. I think I even read someone saying that about Tisha Campbell.

  • GlowBelle

    To broken record it all…can’t we just say that ‘reverse racism’ is a stupid phrase/idea and it needs to go buh-bye. Hate is hate, racists come in all forms. Let’s call racism what it is and stop giving ‘cute’ names for it.

    As for Zoe Saldana, nobody was trying to deny Zoe’s blackness, I know I wasn’t and I can understand what Zoe is saying, but no, people were more irked at the fact that Zoe wasn’t suited for this kind of role simply by looks and her ethics—looks and ethics that diverge away from Nina Simone. I have nothing against Zoe’s acting (actually I find her refreshing), but if anyone knew something about Nina Simone (if you don’t, use Google, it’s your friend) you’d know that Simone’s skin color and her features played a HUGE role in the music she crafted and the positions she took in her life—positions that make Zoe an odd choice.

    Simone came out during a time with ‘cuter’, ‘poppier’, more easily marketable Black women were ruling the airwaves—the Dionne Warwick’s, the Nancy Wilson’s, the Shirley Bassey’s so to speak, Nina was the total opposite of those women in looks, her ideas, and in her musical style, she was a challenge, but she excelled because of her variance from her peers. Simone was also a big time civil rights activist — Zoe was once quoted saying something of the fact that there wasn’t a ‘glass ceiling anymore because of Obama’. Zoe’s thoughts on race and colorism, as we can see here from her Twitter and during her interviews, veer drastically from Simone’s which is why everyone is questioning why Zoe was chosen. It’s why everyone was championing someone like Viola Davis, who looks more the part, and who has voiced numerous times about the colorism issues in Hollywood would be better suited for the role. Sure there is a thing called acting, and Zoe should have the right to surprise us all and nail the role, but people weren’t upset and questioning Zoe’s blackness, that was never in the conversation, it was all about the Hollywood machine once again denying factors in order to put butts in movie theater seats. Zoe, to me, seemed to just get caught in the middle of who should get the real fingerpoint.

    With biopics everybody is usually unhappy with the outcome. If I had my way, I wish the focus of this Zoe/Nina deal was more concerned about how they are actually going to TELL the story. From what I’ve read, Simone’s daughter didn’t authorize this biopic and they already have formulated a erroneous story about Simone’s association with a band member. That’s what gets me about biopics at times, they never get the story right and since we cry about ‘having our stories told’ shouldn’t that be part of the package too? Seems that the story part always gets left out of conversations like this because once again we’re focused on features and color.

    Also Yesha, I got a better example than that Tina Turner and Angela Bassett comparison…Diana Ross as Billie Holiday in ‘Lady Sings The Blues’. That was when a lighter skinned woman with a bigger build was played by the darker skinned woman with a smaller build and it was all wrong, story and look wise. Nobody really cried about that….

  • Nic

    Thank you…I don’t think she should play Nina, but the chick has hair that is straightened either with chemicals or a flat-iron, and she has a wide nose and full lips. She doesn’t have any white features at all. At all.

    It cracks me UP how people claim she doesn’t look Black.

    But she still shouldn’t play Nina…it is a step up from Beyonce as Etta James though. That was a disgrace (and Beyonce is another one who doesn’t look as light to me as people pretend, except when she is in makeup and weave-color ads)…

  • Anthony

    Dang, one jerk says something dumb, and all of this “colorstruck” black man garbage comes rushing out. I honestly do not think that Lil Wayne types would be the ones in line to see a movie about Nina Simone unless it featured Zoe Saldana or some other brown to yellow woman in nine minute nude scenes!

  • Nic

    Um, she was talking about the atrocious grammar by the way…

  • binks

    Lol African Mami, I was just done with people claiming ignorance.

  • Ijeoma

    STOP IT RIGHT NOW. You know good & well that Angela Bassett looked more like Tina Turner than Zoe Saldana WILL EVER look like Nina Simone. Come on, love, stop it. Your argument is NOT valid. Do you honestly think that with makeup and weight gain, you can successful transform Saldana into a Nina Simone doppelganger? REALLY? This is the same thing they did in Half of A Yellow Sun with Thandie Newton. Despicable.

  • SS25

    You need to read careful I said there would be backlash

  • B

    “Reverse racism”, so wait, she’s not claiming black anymore? Which is it, Zoe? I can’t stand when people admit to being black when it is convenient.

    I actually have no problem with Zoe playing Nina even if she is (barely) light skin, take away the last name and she can be your random black girl in anywhere USA. She may not look exactly like Nina but she is still black with black features, hell, she even has those DEEP mouth wrinkles/creases ala Nina.

  • B

    And yet “just Zoe” is claiming racism. RMFE Can’t have it both ways, “Don’t call me black, I’m just Zoe” is now crying about the mean blacks being racist towards her, LMAO.

  • Callemout

    ICAM with Nic and Nubia, are light skin people such a rarity in certain parts that anyone lighter than Alek Wek is considered light or is it that no one wants to use the dreaded “d” word.

  • Apple

    I think she just doesn’t know the meaning of reverse racism. She’s probably implying because its black on black racism .

  • justanotheropinion

    Forget the racism or reverse racism – the FAMILY of Nina Simone has not authorized or sanctioned this movie. They are concerned that Nina won’t be portrayed accurately (we’ve been down this road before folks when ‘others’ tell our story). I’m sure they want to see her portrayed in the best light possible, but I’d rather see a True portrayal of Nina (blemishes & all), regardless of who plays the lead. (there was a previous story on Clutch about this issue).

  • Callemout

    My, oh my, look at those “European” definitely not black features. Are some of you serious?

    Is it contouring and the last name that has some of you talking nonsense? No, seriously?

  • Anthony

    Nina Simone was not a random black girl. She was a world famous artist who deserves to be represented accurately in terms of her work and her appearance.

  • Pseudonym

    Face shape
    Hair texture
    Body type

    Close enough, IMO. It’s not simply an issue of getting the same exact skin tone, it is also features such as facial structure, hair type, body type. None of these match.

  • Izal

    Black women are some of the most insecure hating ass women on the face of the planet and the comments sections proves it! Ya’ll can’t expect anyone to accept us and like us if we don’t even like ourselves. You all want everyone to accept you as a dark skin women, but with that you still tear down any woman that’s lighter with straighter hair(yea they consider themselves black, but they’re still not black enough for you). It’s hollywood, get over it and suck it up and stop waiting for approval from others! Stop waiting for other people to accept your kinky hair, big lips, wide noses, and dark complexion when most of you can’t even accept yourselves and need gratification and praise from other races and people. These topics are very ridiculous and it’s a shame that only complexion and hair textures topics get the most comments. It just prove that most of you are a lost cause and a lost race and have absolutely no clue! Sickening reading these comments…..

  • Mia

    I could care less how Zoe identifies herself. I care even less about having yet another dark skin vs. light skin debate. The bottom line is that she doesn’t look anything like Nina Simone….not even close. The actress portraying the character doesn’t have to be her twin but come on now…

  • JC

    “OTHER type blacks”?

    Sounds crazy, arrogant, and conspiratorial. Who died and made you the standard version of black?

  • Kim

    Anthony, when African American women get tired of folks misappropriating their lives, folks will understand. If your not one of me, then stay the heck out of my personal life. Now I understand why there is so much murder and mayhem associated with the black community. It seems to be the only way that folks can understand NO. You are not part of me or one of me. Leave me alone. Leave my mother and my grandmother alone. Leave us alone. Damn.

  • B

    Way to be purposely and ridiculously obtuse RME no where did it say Nina is a random black woman.

  • Food4thought

    Look at those “European” “non black” features =/
    Are people serious with this, is the contouring and last name clouding eye sockets?

  • LMO85 God this whole story is so annoying and unbelievable. It isn’t really about Zoe being Latina, it’s about the fact that her looks totally contradict the life and times of Nina Simone. What Nina looked like had a huge impact on her life and career and is a significant part of who she was and what she represented in her time. It is about being authentic. Casting Zoe, who is a fine actress in her own right, is just the WRONG choice. She is simply MIScast. It would be like casting Gaborey Sidibe who I think is also a fine actress in her own right, as the late and great Aaliyah in a biopic. It just doesn’t make sense and has nothing to do with talent. But white folks are good for lumping all black folks in the same basket but to cast Zoe in this UNauthorized ? biopic is simply ridiculous and wholeheartedly about colorism and racism on Hollywood’s part. It seems they don’t want to give a darker-skinned black actress the opportunity to actively portray this role and shine. Seems it definitely should have gone to someone like Viola Davis.

  • > Skinner

    I suggest a Broadway actor from one of the musicals. We need someone with to portray Nina, who has passion. But, it really doesn’t matter if Saldana gets the role or not, because Nina will NEVER be portrayed as the warrior for human rights that she was. She transitioned generations, cultures, she gave us the privilege of knowing her inner thoughts and feelings and should be honored accordingly.

  • isolde3

    “— Zoe was once quoted saying something of the fact that there wasn’t a ‘glass ceiling anymore because of Obama’.”


    Zoe said nothing of the sort. That remark was made by the bi-racial actress Annie ILonzeh who starred on last year’s failed Charlie’s Angels tv reboot.

  • SS25

    You don’t know shit about black women. You dirty piece of trash!!

  • paul

    I will say –

    in reference to the comments distinguishing Afro Latino culture from African American culture, plus the one’s blaming black men’s so called colourism for something that black men had zero input in bringing out; the screenwriter and director is a white woman, the casting director is a white woman and the producers are white jews -

    that it’s a shame that we seem to be inventing divisions and differences between African rooted cultures over nothing more than a Hollywood film.

    Classic divide and conquer tactics used by oppressors is to sow division among their victims by starving them and then have them fight over crumbs –

    or to “favour” one faction over another, to create distance between themselves and those they oppress by having the “favoured” group take the brunt of the non-favoured faction’s resentments.

    Seems to be exactly what’s happening in this discussion. It is also exactly what happened in -

    RWANDA . . .

    This is exactly how we collaborate in our own oppression and that’s the system of white supremacy capitalism in a nutshell, how the white elites maintain their hegemony, power and privilege.

    Pause for a minute – do we really have to tear other apart over which black person gets a spot in white people’s film?

    If it’s that important isn’t there a more constructive way to analyze this issue?

  • Anthony

    Somebody said th thatZoe Saldana could be any random “black girl.” My point is that she is to play a specific historical figure so appearance should matter.

  • Kim

    Oh stop the dramatics. Hell, maybe you could play Ms.Simone. Mira, because we don’t want you in our lives does not mean we are insecure. It simply means that we know who you are. Some of us are not babes in the woods. We know the deal, but carry on. When an African American girl/woman pops that behind because they are tired of folks thinking they know them or are one of them, you are going to know. You will never forget it. You heard it here and keep turning a deaf ear to what is being said to you, but I guarantee you will eventually understand.

  • Chillyroad

    @Reality please

    You can argue Zoe Saldana couldnt play Simone because she doesnt look like her but you cant deny Zoe Saldana the part because she doesnt look African. As I said, Iman and Alek with look African but dont look like Nina Simone and would likewise not be appropriate for the part.

    Black in the diaspora have some European and Amerindian admixture. Some more than others. I dont appreciate Light skinned black women being kicked out of the fold because they dont look West African enough for the taste of some. Its insulting and it is colorist.

  • Pingback: Zoe Saldana Not “Black Enough” To Play Nina Simone? « thebrooklynbombshell

  • Gennatay (@gennatay)

    I honestly think they should offer the role to Anika Noni Rose…

  • CheebaCat

    Again, no shade to Zoe, but I will speak with my wallet and not support this film.

    Simple as that.

  • Fleur

    Some less spoken words that come to mind when discussing why a darker skin tone Denzel Washington plays [a lighter skin] Malcolm X in a film with no major backlash, and Angela Bassett showcases Tina Turner story with the similar results are, “Well, you say that you’re a Black person. You support the Black Movement. You also share that you experience prejudice and racism, so a darker skin Black person can play you in film. Question?”

    When it comes to a lighter skin tone Black person showcasing the story of a darker skin tone Black person in a film, the outspoken words you see and hear are, “You not Black enough to showcase this Black person’s story because your skin too light, you nose and lips are too thin, your body is too thin and too small your hair is too straight, your speech is too white. This is whitewashing. You cannot sing. You and/or your most recent ancestors were born over there.”


    I would identify the backlash Zoe Saldana is experiencing as Colorism and some Intra-Racism before Reverse Racism.

  • gmarie

    I’m playing the smallest violin ever for this woman. Now that I know more abut the liberties the producer plans on taking with Nina’s story (aside from the casting) and her vision for the film I wouldnt be interested in seeing it no matter WHO is signed on to play the woman. sounds like a train wreck waiting to happen.

  • Gennatay (@gennatay)

    THANK YOU!!! When will black people stop saying someone is not “Black enough: for something?

  • T.

    Just want to say that of all the comments I’ve seen on this post, this is the one that best addresses the several complex and inter-related issues surrounding this casting controversy. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • T.

    What is negra in the “classical sense”? And why does the “classical” sense (whatever that is) have to be the be all and end all of definitions forever? There are plenty of Black Americans who are multi-ethnic and/or lighter that Ms. Saldana who call themselves black without being questioned or challenged (e.g. Jada Pinkett Smith). Why can’t Zoe identify as black (not African-American, but black Dominican) if she chooses?

  • T.

    Or we could compare her to Jada Pinkett Smith, Halle Berry, Vanessa Williams, Stacy Dash, Nicole Ari Parker. Some African-American actresses are light, some are dark, some have more “African features” (I assume you mean broad nose and full lips) than Zoe, some don’t. Just because Zoe isn’t African-American doesn’t mean she can’t have noticeably African features; she has African ancestry after all, like millions of other people in the Caribbean and Latin America. Black folk in America aren’t the benchmark for blackness/African features in the New World.

  • T.

    Simple as that. And because her physical appearance was so much a meaningul part of her development and identify as an artist and person, she *especially* deserves to be portrayed by someone who resembles her.

  • Melbra S, Barber (Rai)

    I had the great privilege of meeting and spent three days with NINA SIMONE in Paris,
    France. I am just grateful that someone is going to produce her lifestory. Whever they
    choose, please do it right!..I know the color issue. I am singer and actress and darked
    hue in complexion. I know this color problem in Hollywood.

  • Jess

    Being that white people are the ones producing, directing and making the casting decisions on this film, the real racists and colorist should be obvious. The whites responsible for this film – and the media surrounding it – are pushing division among Black Americans and Black Latinos (women in particular), as always, and dumb Black people fall for the media games every time.

    Who cares that a bunch of white people prefer a Latin Black over American Black? So what? Why expect white people to do what you want and respect cultural differences? Because that’s all it is cultural, but not racial differences. Whites funded the movie and Black people – Latin and American – are begging for scraps from their table.

    White people make movies from their viewpoint, not ours. If you want a movie about NIna Simone that reflects the way you want to see her, then make your own damn movie and quit asking white people to like you. Lazy folks with inferiority complexes get what they deserve. One thing i can say about Tyler Perry is that he made the movies that he wanted to make, not begging white people for their approval or their casting decisions.

    the truth is that Zoe Saldana is a victim of ‘media-ism’ and white liberalism, which loves to highlight the differences between Black people and encourage division – the press is the one continually bringing up the topic of her color and Afro-Latino background simply to get a rise out of people when noone Black would normally ever even care. When Zoe Saldana was in Drumline and other movies, nobody gave one flying flip on whether she was Black from Georgia or Black from San Juan – we just knew she was Black.

    This whole “controversy” with Zoe Saldana rings false to me and is another case of more of our ignorant and stupid Black people allowing the media to yank them around and sway their perception of other Black people, whether American Black or international Blacks. And white people sit back and laugh at the whole thing as Black Hispanics and U.S. Blacks tear out each others throats.

    dumb dumb and dumber!

  • Jess

    she looks nothing like Nina Simone and is about the same color as Zoe saldana, so why not Zoe?

  • Melbra S, Barber (Rai)

    I hope this opinion on Nina Simone will be used.I meet Nina Simone in Paris,France some years ago. I am just grateful that someone is going to produce her lifestory. Please
    do it right. Do it right.! I know the color issue. I am a singer and actress and dark hued.

  • Jess

    The author of this article mentioned Angela Bassett playing Tina Turner – how about the fact that Angela Basset played ROSA PARKS??? If that isn’t a ridiculous mismatch, then I don’t know what is. And as someone stated on another site, Huey Newton was played by a half-Asian guy in the movie Panther and Basquiat, an Afro-Latino painter, was played by Jeffrey Wright, an Afro-American – where’s the the outcry?

    There was none (and rightfully should not have been) because the media didn’t decide that those were the days to yank Blackpeople around in another fabricated racial-controversy-of-the-day.

    If the Nina Simone movie was to just come and go like other movies, no one would have anything to say, other than maybe a passing “hmm, interesting I never would have thought Zoe Saldana could play Nina Simone, but she did a good job!”

    I pray for Blacks of the Americas in general – we are our own Rwanda waiting to happen, where two different groups of BLACK people take up white people’s preferences and then decide to hate each other over them. It’s so stupid it’s mind boggling, and white media keeps pushing their divsie theme by placing one group over another when it reality they can’t stand either.

  • Jess

    SO agree, Paul

  • Jess

    Exactly, callemout! THANK YOU for knowing how to successfully use sarcasm to make your point! Gawd, have black people really become this brain dead??? This is dumb. Signing off this topic. I can’t take it anymore. we are our own worse enemies – to be mad about a white-made Hollywood film and white-made media controversy just because some Black chic who happens to be from another country wants to do a movie – how fabricated!

  • Gennatay (@gennatay)

    First, let me point out that my post had nothing to do with skin tone. My opinion is based on talent and I honestly think this could be a break out role for Anika based off what I’ve seen from her.

  • jasmine

    First and foremost, American blacks need to get over the fact that they have some ownership of being black. I thought Africans arrived in the Caribbean before North America. I know my ancestors came by way of the Bahamas. Some were left there and others came to North America. What is this division all about anyway? The bottom line is that if Zoe can bring her a game to being Nina Simone, ok, then what’s the issue! Black people need to stop the BS and get it together. Personally, I love and embrace blacks of different cultural backgrounds. I wish black Americans had retained some of their culture, no matter how different from each tribe.

  • Vincent Bernard

    Okay, cut all this ish out!

    I LOVE Zoe Saldana. Beautiful woman and capable actress. But do I think she can channel Nina? Hell no. Yes I’m an African American and I feel this way. If they chose a black American to play at notorious Latin woman, the Afro LAtinos would boycott. IF they choose Viola Davis to play LEna Horne, ppl would go bat shit! So yes, ppl have the right to be upset that a light skinned long haired actress is playing Nina Simone who never denied her dark skinned and heave West African features.

    Its like how they got a biracial woman to play Harriet TUbman ANd biracial Halle Beery to play Storm (X Men) a dark skinned Kenyan PRincess. Holly wood is guilty of coo=lorism and this is another example. I bet most of the ppl saying “black Americans need to get over it” are the onewho look like the Halle’s and Zoes of the world. But us dark skinned folks who are tired or seeing the few heroes we have seeing the light of day “white washed” are not happy and we will continue to speak out on it.

    Deal with it.

  • Melanie

    But she’s not even Black! I know about Afro Latinas but lets just be honest go to NYC and ask Dominicans how they feel about being called or labeled black. I just don’t ge why can’t they just use a AfroAmerican gir?

  • cocopuffs

    it would totally be different if this were a fiction story made into a movie with a made up character then you could get anyone you want to play her but when you are REPRESENTING another person just like in ALI movie the picked a buff lighter complexioned man and jamie foxx who is a amazing actor as the trainer WHY?? because he fit the persons skin tone and build. Many actors and actresses understand why this is, when you are representing a particular person thats how it goes. It doesnt have much to do with having the exact features but when the skin tone is completely different it throws people off and misrepresents the person that is suppose to be portrayed. even white actresses and actors have to have a particular look to play a particular role. GET OUT OF YOUR FEELINGS.

  • Jess

    Zoe Saldana has a relaxer and a weave, like so mny others, particularly in the entertainment industry. You really gonna say that her straight hair is any different than all the other Black people walking around with straight hair? There iso difference in her hair type. Take out the perm and her hair type is no different than many other Black peoples.

  • Melanie

    I bet Zoe didn’t even start embracing being Black until she became famous. I come from a Dominican family and I know how they can be….

  • Jess

    She’s not biracial. She’s just a Black Latina **face palm **

  • Jess

    on this, i totally agree.

  • Jess

    This is a great post. I think i wanted to say somethinglike this, but couldn’t put it accurately into words and then got caught up in the mind-boggling stupidity of the colrism issue. But I must say that your post is the most accurate, spoton post on here. You made many points in the right way, and i can admit to having tried to make my points, but came out in the wrong way. I agree 100% with your post

  • Jess

    girl, don’t even indulge Anon

  • Tonton Michel

    Ninba Simone is Black American culture an AA are obviously trying to retain it by being specific on who they choose to represent them.

  • Tonton Michel

    It’s African America’s culture they have the right to demand who they want to play the role and not have it pushed upon them or worst their opinion dismissed.

    The sad part is that Zoe has two many strikes against her, doesnt look the part, cant sing, and is an average actress. Thats three strikes, not counting the fact that she is drom the D.R.

    It’s amazing that you have some people on here trying to tell another people what they should accept as their represenatives.

  • T.

    Zoe Saldana is on the record as having declared, “I am a black woman.” So what is your basis for saying that she’s not black?

  • Jasmine

    If Zoe Saladana, Halle Berry, Lisa Bonet, or any other bi-racial woman was expected to play a bi-racial woman in a movie how many movies would the be in? How many movies or even tv shows in America depict bi-racial relationships? Very few and even the majority of those couples dont have kids. I am bi-racial and very light skinned (black and white) and I am offended when I see bi-racial children depicted as having black parents. Just as it is offensive to black people to see bi-racial people in “their” roles. If bi-racial people were represented more effectively in the media then we wouldn’t have this problem.

    As well, it is a case of the mass media. The more Anglo you look, the more the mass audience is going to accepts you. This is truly sad and the problem is this isn’t going on in other countries. You see bi-racial relationship; bi-racial children. There is no place for us in the media; only on a rare occasion. Then if you are bi-racial you have to “pick” a side. Most likely we’re lumped in with the minority group instead of the majority but it really doesn’t matter because we’re still different anyway and we don’t belong in either group. I do no feel like I am a black woman but I do not believe I am a white woman. I am mixed. And please people look up the history of the word mullato and think twice before you use it because it is highly offensive.

    To sumize, I do not believe that Zoe Saladana should play the role of Nina Simone if the concept is based on finding someone that looks like her. Otherwise does it really even matter? If we put her in a box then lets go ahead and throw Terrance Howard in there and Jasmine Guy. Where will it end?

  • desi

    Good lawd! Zoe is black people. She is NOT African American because she is NOT AMERICAN. Maybe an actress who looks more like Nina Simone should be cast but this attack on Zoe is unfounded and just awful.

  • Paula (@grooveparlortv)

    if Nina Simone ‘looked’ like Zoe Saldana in the 1950s & 60s, her life would have been very different – an historical fact. let a dark-skinned actress play Nina instead of them playing maids yet again. it isn’t about Zoe, it’s about fighting the real racism in Hollywood against dark-skinned actresses.

  • T.

    Truth!I find it really upsetting and disturbing; it’s revealing a lot of things about people’s ideas concerning the arbiters and standards of blackness, who is/isn’t allowed to consider themselves black, and what is considered “black enough”.

  • sham f-ing wow


    The problem is that she is (1) benefiting from a color system that shut Nina out and hinders the careers of women with deep W. African features. (2)She says she is a Nina fan. If she were, she would understand this and not be so opportunistic. Her phenotype does privilege her over darker AfAm who do not have straight hair/keen features or a Spanish surname.

    Nina’s phenotype had a direct and serious effect on how the world (rejection from a conservatory) treated her. Especially the US.

    For a real treatment on this issue:

    Reverse Racism? GTFO.

  • sham f-ing wow

    You know nothing about American Blacks, but feel free to spit bile.

    Who are you to define what our culture is outsider.

    If you knew anything about W. Africa and slavery, you’d know that skinfolk =/= kinfolk and the ethnic groups frequently did battle. Hence, some selling others to Europeans.

    Furthermore, continental whites purposely mixed ethnicities to ease the brutalization process.

    Learn something before you dare speak on that which you don’t know.

  • Barbara

    Right, because racists were making exceptions for blacks who were slightly lighter than their counterparts. Because the “non American colored only” fountains were right next to the “whites only”

  • Barbara

    Except her features are NOT “keen” WTF, What is it with ascribing those with latin names or light skin w/ so called keen features???

  • keeb0

    Personally, I think Saldana should play whatever role she wishes. Shoot! She can play Mammy/Prissy from ’Gone with the Wind’ for all I care. The real question: Is she talented and versatile enough to pull off the part without them piling on the makeup or warping Simone’s story. I don’t see it! (Note: I’m very bias. A huge fan of Nina Simone thus have I have a starry view of who she was. Salanda doesn’t seem suited for the part. Then again, I don’t know Salanda’s career/potential.Who knows this might be the role she kills.)

  • ChillyRoad

    What are deep West African features? Are you West African? What are so keen about her features? Why would those features make her a shallow West African as opposed to a deep one? Most black women in Hollywood straighten their hair. See Cecilia Cruz and Sammy Sosa. Im sick of the self pitying and the rage.

  • Fran H

    No knock on Zoe, I think she has acted well in the movies I have seen her in, but Hollywood does shy away from starring darker skined Black women. There are some very talented dark brown skin women Black women in Hollywood. Shoot they don’t even have to look that hard if they were truly interested. They could have done a talent search, Jennifer Hudson wasn’t expected to do the amazing job that she did in Dream Grils I’m sure. Black actresses get very little respect in Hollywood. I wonder if that will ever change. It took 75yrs between the first Black women to win an Oscar and Hallie Berry winnning one. Progress is reeeeal slow in Hollywood for Black acrtresses.

  • Izal

    I’m a black woman! and you just proved my point! pathetic and sad! always waiting for approval from others! always talking about complexion and hair texture! Yep, that’s black women and the only reason you’re mad is because I hit a nerve! love yourself!

  • Celina Inman

    Zoe would be able to pull off the late great Celia Cruz, but not Nina! No way!!!

  • Lisa D. Sparks (@LisaDSparks)

    I agree. Saldana is quite talented. This role is a stretch for her, which is a good thing both for Simone and Saldana. Media seems to pay more attention to Saldana, which is awesome. Her talent opened this door for her. The controversy, the discussions, all of it is good for both her exposure and the exposure of the subject of the biopic.

    Yes, it’s an odd choice but that may be a part of why she was chosen. Can’t wait to see it. Note: Biopics are dangerous territory for any actor/actress. The artist is placed in a no-win situation from the beginning. Think Halle Berry playing Dorothy Dandridge and Beyonce playing Etta James. The list goes on and on!

  • Lasaundra Watson-Legate

    THANK YOU Paula!!!!! Nina Simone’s appearance, her dark skin, full lips, broad nose and kinky hair were absolutely critical to her life experiences and her art. If you don’t know that, you don’t know Nina. Full justice can not be given to her story or ours, other dark skinned women of color, if her portrait is “white washed or light washed.” Anybody remember “Mississippi Burning”?

  • Indea Vaher

    Nina coming to terms and rejecting the negativity that her features, and complexion would have garnered in that era is what gave her such a powerful voice as an entertainer and as an activist in the civil rights movement.
    Accurately projecting her physical appearance is an integral part of the Nina Simone story. Her song “Four Women” is an excellent example of how she may have felt if asked about the selection. She had often said that she would have liked Whoppi Goldberg to play her lifestory. ,

  • Jess

    uhhhh.Paula you obviously know nothing about the uNited States in the 1950s and 1960s if you can make that ignorant statement.

  • Anthony

    To be consistent, she doesn’t look like Celia Cruz either, but speaking Spanish and having roots in a very similar culture would seem to give her a leg up on that sort of role. That said, we should all avoid typecasting.

  • Jess

    Then quit expecting white people to make movies that truly reflect us. yea, colorism is real – becauseof white people! And yes, Black people need to get over arguing against one another for ish that white people make!

    U.S. Blacks and Latin Blacks do not need to start hating each other because a couple of dumb white people chose to put their own spin on Nina Simone. They aren’t making movies for us, truly to represent us. Whites tell stories how they want to tell them, truth be damned – look at Red Tails – Lucas and Co. (and his black lackeys) made up an imaginary white woman in the lives of such important heroes as the Tuskegee Airmen! So then Why are we shocked white hollywood wouldn’t necessarily make the effort to find a woman who completely best looks like Nina Simone or represents her U.S. culture in a movie they make?

    And why should I start spewing racism and colorism against another Black woman just for taking a role made by white movie producers ? That’s just stupid!

    Zoe Saldana is Black, from Latin America. I’m Black, from North America. We both have ancestors that came DIRECTLY through the transatlantic slave trade – her ancestors got dropped off in Latin America, mine got dropped off further North in what is now the U.S. of A. And actually, most of the Blacks in America CAME THRU LATIN and SOUTH AMERICA FIRST before being transferred to what is now the U.S.

    Heck, Zoe Saldana could be your relative!
    Sorry, but its the truth.

    White people could truly care less about either of us, but will at times favor one over the other for their own racist agendas and divisive policies. I’m not hating on anybody else Black just because white people pretend to favor one over the other. And by the way, when was the last time you saw a Black Latina represented positively, or at all? So it’s not like they’re gaining any great favor over us as Black Americans, except for the ones we allow due to our own internal self-hate.

    Tell our own stories and then we don’t have to worry about such things.

  • Jess

    “It’s African America’s culture they have the right to demand who they want to play the role and not have it pushed upon them or worst their opinion dismissed.”

    If we aren’t the owners and makers of the movie we ave no right to demand anything from them.Whites made it, so oyu get what they give you.Make your own movies and maybe then more accurate stories willbe told. But hollering at a movie made by whites will get you nada.

  • hz

    don’t pretend that racism is the same as it was in the Jim Crow Era. Hollywood today has made it very clear on its preferences of black actresses. Yes, being a black woman on its own creates a universal struggle, but don’t pretend that the nuances of the “light-skinned” vs “dark-skinned” debate are invalidated because they didn’t exist (according to you) in a time when racism was more overt and explicit.

  • Jess

    How can it be whitewashing when ZS is Black? Not biracial, but Black?

  • Jess

    I don’t agree – Black Americans have portrayed Black Latinos in movies before.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    how bout i just keep my dollar in my pocket?

  • jamesfrmphilly

    zoe can be as black as she wanna be.
    she just don’t look like nina.

  • Jess

    you can do that too, james

  • Jay Cee

    What the hell is “reverse racism” anyway? It is a ridiculous phrase. It’s simple, if an actress is going to play a biographical role, they should at lease RESEMBLE the person they are going to portray. It is not rocket science. Are the producers white? Then it would make sense that they would select Zoe Zaldana to portray Nina, because white people have no concept of the black aestetic. Anytime they would select Andre Braugher (sp) to portray Benjamin O. Daviis of the Tuskegee Airman and Thurgood Marshall, you know they are not only out of the water, but they are not even on the pier. My suggestion would be that fine actress, Viola Davis.

  • LaskaJ

    I like Angela Bassett as an actress. I think she is a beautiful woman, but she doesn’t look anything like Tina Turner, not even in the dark. She was too dark and musclebound. It was like Serena Williams playing Lena Horne. Great women, but very different.

  • TAE

    YAS! That Gaborey Sidibe reference hits the nail on the head. If folks can’t see what’s wrong with that picture and equate it to what we’re really talking about right here there’s nothing that can be done for them. And I’m done.

  • esmagnifique

    I suggest you check out the book “Black Beauty: The History and Celebration” by Ben Arogundade. Yes, Nina Simone and Zoe Saldana and Angela Bassett, Tyra Banks, etc are all BLACK WOMEN. But their lived experience individually (and women who look like them, so collectively) are informed by multiple identity markers, and the connotations attached to certain physical features plays an integral part on that.

    Hate to break it to you @jess but I would say that you are the one who is a little in the dark about U.S. history.

  • ruggie

    I can understand people’s rage about this. All groups, not just African Americans, are protective of their icons and VERY specific about who should play them. South Africans get pissed off when American blacks play Winnie and Nelson Mandela. Latinos were upset that JLo, a Puerto Rican, played Selena, a Mexican. When you have money and power to make films as you wish, you can be be as specific as you like. White people would never tolerate a non-blonde white American woman playing Marilyn Monroe or a non-blonde white English woman playing Princess Di, the list goes on with that. The idea of settling for less would be laughable to them. But when your group is disenfranchised you don’t have much of a say so in the matter, except to protest and seem petty. Then you suck it up and deal with it because the you’re mainly glad the story is getting made at all.

  • Desi

    Good lawd! Zoe is not light skinned nor does she have “keen features.” She is a brown skinned woman from a Spanish speaking country. More African slaves were brought to central and Latin America than the U.S. I just don’t get how so many of us on this board have missed the boat (pun intended) on this subject.

  • B

    Obviously the above really lighter skinned woman in the above photo with actual Marie features forgot to claim her perks according to paula.

  • S.

    I can not be the only African American who views Zoe Saldana as ‘traditionally Black’ (with the exception of her hair)

    She is not “light skinned”
    She has a wide nose

    She is unmistakeably a descendant of West Africans

    No i don’t think she looks like Nina Simone nor do I think she has the acting chops to make up for the physical difference but at this point, i do not care

  • Jess

    i’ve never heard the term “keen” features- is this a term used in Britain or something? seriously, just wondering. never heard an AfAm use this term, and never heard of this until seeing comments on this article.

  • LaskaJ

    Slave ships dropped off Zoe’s ancestors in the New World the same as mine, and I’ll support her as a sister no matter what role she plays, period. Zoe wouldn’t even be a lead actress in the latin world because she looks too “African,” and I don’t mean white woman with a tan, either. I’m going to support her the way I supported Denzel playing the light skinned Malcolm X and the way I supported Jeffrey Wright playing the brown-skinned Martin Luther King, Jr.(he also played the Dominican Peoples Hernandez in Shaft). When Winnie comes out with Jennifer Hudson playing Winnie Mandela and Terrence Howard playing Nelson Mandela, none of these afro-centric critics are going to be saying a word, in spite of the fact that African Americans do not resemble black South Africans, and that there are South African actors that could have done those roles justice. African American cultural imperialism and hypocrisy at its finest. Hollywood cares about getting known actors who can open movies, people who can not only do credible work, but who can bring in a broad audience. It’s up to the actor to bring the authenticity to the performance, or did you think Denzel Washington really had red hair?

  • Satya Love Joy

    FYI most black people don’t judge an actor’s blackness based on whether or not they’ve been in a Tyler Perry movie. Writing such craziness makes your article seem unnecessarily biased. Beyond skin color, Nina Simone had a certain vibe and aura that many cannot begin to ascertain. If Zoe can capture this, so be it. But more than likely, she will NOT. Moreover, how can you tell the story of Nina and leave out BLACKNESS. Our world history is primarily based on this issue. Nina Simone is BLACK, BLACK! Dark skinned, tight curls (coils, “naps”), and a heart of gold. If drab Hollywood cannot embrace her entirety the film will flop!

  • So Over This Ish

    I agree with you completely…so she has a Latin surname. So what? So she has Latin ancestry. So what? So she’s skinny with medium-brown skin and wavy hair. Again, so what? This doesn’t make her less of a Black woman. There are African American and Caribbean women who look like her. She doesn’t look anything like Nina Simone and I’m not sure she can play the part convincingly. I also wouldn’t say that Zoe is a “victim” of colorism in this case, as the article seems to suggest.

    But it bothers me that some people are trying to negate her identity as a Black woman. She is an Afro-Latina, period. She might not be “black” in the sense that Nina Simone was black (if one wants to discuss physical appearances) but I don’t think it is OK for anyone to declare that she is somehow non-Black because of her surname and Latin heritage. Many Latinos have African ancestry, including the ones that try to hide it because they have internalized racism. Zoe has never attempted to hide who she is. She has always represented herself as a proud Black woman, albeit with Latin roots.

  • So Over This Ish

    @ruggie…did you see “My Weekend With Marilyn”? Michelle Williams played Marilyn Monroe and she looks nothing like her. People are often cast in roles that don’t suit them, but I guess the true test of a fine actor/actress is if they can pull it off so convincingly that you forget about their looks.

  • So Over This Ish

    You have a valid point, Paula, but what about people like Dorothy Dandridge? She was about the same color as Zoe and her life was miserable. She was often typecast in very stereotypical roles. No, she didn’t play maids but her career never quite flourished like the careers of white actresses like Marilyn Monroe (who has attained iconic status not only in Hollywood, but around the world).

    The same is true of Fredi Washington and Lena Horne, both of whom were even lighter than Dorothy. Lena enjoyed success but she encountered a lot of racism and obstacles along the way. White folks (and some Black folks, too) were uncomfortable with seeing a light-skinned Black woman who refused to play maid/mammy roles. Fredi Washington had to darken her skin so it wouldn’t offend whites, seeing as how she was very fair with green eyes and she was educated. Her career didn’t advance because white people wanted somebody “non-threatening” like Hattie McDaniel or Louise Beavers. Fredi’s presence reminded them that Black women could be refined and they wanted to promote ugly stereotypes, so they erased light-skinned women and put dark-skinned women in degrading roles. Hollywood tends to stereotype ALL Black women regardless of hue.

    Let’s not pretend that Zoe would be able to pass for white or that she wouldn’t have been sitting in the back of the bus in 1951. She is still a Black woman no matter what. She would have endured the same discrimination as anyone else. But I agree that she is probably not the right person for this role. I would love to see India Arie play the young Nina, then maybe Viola Davis when Nina is older.

  • Yulah

    It’s less racism and more phenotype discrimination, since black people can look white (Nicole Richie, Mariah Carey)…and switch black and forth between identifying as black or any other race.

  • pe.riche.

    Cosign ALL of that!!!!

  • Barbara2

    @Sham….Thanks for posting that link.

  • Paula (@grooveparlortv)

    even lesser known than the ‘light-skinned’ woman you mentioned is dark-skinned Claudette Colvin, the FIRST woman to resist bus discrimination. the (house) Negro leadership at the time didn’t think she was the ‘appropriate image’ of resistance

    yea, prime example of colorism even then. the NAACP was NOTORIOUS for having ‘light-skinned’ workers in the front office at NYC HQs, while the ‘dark-skinned’ folks worked in the back.

  • Elle

    Thank you so much for pointing out that Angela and Tina are not the same color. (I had this conversation with my homeboy yesterday.) Black people are going to always suffer from the “crabs in the barrel syndrome”, which is unfortunate.

  • Cocochanel31

    Mary is actually not a bad actress IMO but why not choose her or India Arie….??? I just don’t see Zoe as having soul or being able to pull this off no matter what color/nationality she is..I just don’t see it….

    Do you think anyone darker than Halle Berry would’ve been considered for BEING DOROTHY DANDRIDGE..HELL why are they doing this??? MAkes NO SENSE!

  • LNZY

    I think this author and possibly Hollywood and Saldana miss the point. Wanting someone to look more the part is not “reverse racism.” It’s about staying true to her story. Nina Simone’s appearance was very significant. Anyone who says otherwise should not even be telling her story. Simone was not just a darker tone than Saldana. She was plain, regardless of skin tone. She was no “delicate beauty” like Saldana. That is critical to her story. In an extremely superficial industry she had an enormously succesful crossover career not based on her looks but on her vocal talents. Casting someone as traditionally beautiful as Saldana undercuts the Nina Simone story. Think of all the young girls that look like Simone, or don’t look like her but are equally ‘plain,’ that could be inspired by her story if you cast appropriately. If you’re going to depict someone’s story, depict it right.

  • ruggie

    @so over – Ummm yes Michelle Williams vs Marilyn Monroe…white, blonde, American, fair skin, button nose, red cheeks, small town background…They got this casting thing on lock! Michelle is a fine actor as is Zoe but white people would’ve shut it down if she didn’t fit the part on the ‘outside’.

  • Winn

    Apparently many people commenting here know little to nothing about Nina Simone, and particularly how her lived experience as a dark-skinned black woman with distinctive African features informed her music, her personal relationships, and her politics. This isn’t a game of interchangeable black people. This was a real woman with a real life, and a real heart shattered by her very SPECIFIC experiences with racism in general and colorism in particular. Casting Zoe Saldana makes a mockery of Simone’s truth. Its not about Zoe, it’s about her being completely wrong for this role.

  • writergirl

    As a Brit, I’m starting to learn that there are many complexities in relation to Zoe’s heritsge as well as complexion. I have to disagree with the comment about Angie playing a mixed race woman, as i quickly found out that the woman she was playing is her friend, and chose her for the part, not to mention angie’s incredible talent to play a woman with such distinctive characteristics (lack of research here)

    I have to admit, I agree that zoe and nina look NOTHING alike in colour of features, but if they can transform her to look more like her e.g a wig and tanning possibly, then I think that she’ll do a great job.

  • Chillyroad

    Thank you. Yes I too hate the Black American cultural imperialism. I hate that they believe they should have the biggest platform when it comes to talking about black people world-wide. The nerve of some of these black AMericans talking about what Africans look like when they probably couldnt find it on a map. But we cant say anything because during the Civil Rights movement, their ancestors may have or may not have aided immigrants coming to this country. As a price for that, blacks from outside of AMerica have to shut up and take it.

  • Demeriese Naima Valier (‘Nina’ petition creator)

    Hello. I am the woman who created the petition on’s get a few things straight:

    I have never questioned Zoe Saldana’s blackness. It was not a consideration in my creation of the petition. Anyone who reads the petition letter and gets Zoe isn’t “black enough”(whatever that means) to play Nina Simone is clearly thinking with their emotions and not seeing the matter for what it truly is…more of Hollywood’s bs & fuckery. People always want to throw up the movie Lady Sings the Blues as an example of why Zoe doesn’t suck as a casting choice for playing Nina. Well, I didn’t think that Diana Ross should’ve played Billie Holliday. I think the movie sucks. You know why? The same reason this movie is gonna suck to me and anyone who is a true Nina Simone fan; because Diana Ross looked nothing like Billie Holliday and there were too many liberties taken with the story. Lady Sings The Blues is the Disney version of Billie’s life. Really and truly, after reading what Nina’s daughter has had to say about the matter and finding out that the entire story is a farce, it doesn’t matter who does Nina in this particular film. It’s fiction that is very loosely based on the truth. If it was in fact a true biopic, then I’d still be dumbfounded by this casting decision because for Nina her look was a form of activism for her. All of the articles I have seen that defend this casting choice never mention the fact that the way Nina Simone looked played a critical role in her life. It shaped her way of thinking, her music, and her opinions on race relations. Nina said herself that she would like to see Whoopi Goldberg play her. Where is the disconnect?

    None of this matters. Times are changing and nothing remains the same. I will one day get together with a group of other talented thespians and writers and make movies that have accurate depictions of African historical figures throughout the diaspora.

  • Barbara


    Yeah umm you are not telling me something I did not know.
    Most of us are pretty damn aware of the history of colorism in our community but for Paula and the like to act as if 1950s Zoe would have had an easy breezy racist free life is a really bad joke. In what effin universe can this girl pass for anything but black?

    Just be honest and say, “she is not dark enough” but spare me the bull* about non existent european/fine features and skin so light bright. GTFO

    Why the facade?

  • om johari

    Are you kidding me… the point is in part that there are plenty of sista who can play this part better. and if you knew anything, and i mean anything about Nina… this would not be her choice. so you can pit and pet the star all you want. i know the deal. she will, fortunately have lots of roles to play… but not this one. this is to political, too folk lore, too, yeah… i’m saying it… this is too black for her experience. reverse racism? tell that to her agent!!

  • om johari

    right on!!!

  • om johari

    exactly!!! she cannot play this role and be true to the story of Nina… anyone who loves Nina knows this… the producers just thought they could slide it past us. zoe got caught in the cross fire… she should never have been asked!!

  • KeepitReal

    Despite the hype, Zoe is quite plain and no “delicate beauty”,
    I mean please. Are you gassed up by the”Saldana”?

    Her nose may not be bulbous but it just as wide.
    Her skin may not be as dark but it is closer to dark than light.
    Her lips are just as wide and not “delicate.

    Keeping it real, While plain AF, Zoe is not (look away PC police) ugly ala Nina and that is the real issue. I see everyone is skipping around it, “Well Zoe is delicate (RMFE)”, “Well, Nina was plain you see”, “Zoe would have her very own water fountain in 1950s America”….

    Check out the no make up photo of this “delicate beauty”, strip away the make up and give her a nose prosthetic.

  • Chillyroad

    I didnt want to say it but a lot of people are using the “African features” as a short hand for average looking.

  • Chillyroad

    In addition I believe that many black women on this site want to throw the Zoe Saldana’s of the world out of the black female community because they want to be graded on a curve. Light skinned women like Zoe Saldana, with socalled “keen features” throws the curve off.

  • ruggie

    Slap on some blackface and an afro wig, that should do the trick, SMH.

  • Tonton Michel

    They have the right in the world to call BS on who ever is making the movie if it offends them. That seems to be the point, people are upset that AA will not validate this movie in it’s present form and people are trying to convince them to do so. Just because you didnt tell the story does not mean you sit by and let some one else tell a lie when you know the truth.

  • cocochanel31

    Since when is Zoe Saldana light skinned? She looks like a regular brown woman with a great perm to me…I’m lost..Kanye shrug….

  • theinfamousl

    i don’t have an issue with zoe’s skin tone, i have an issue with her not being believable as nina simone period. don’t get me wrong, i love zoe as an actress, she is definitely doing her thing but if you watch some of nina simone’s interviews and get a taste of who she was my mind would not go off to cast zoe saldana OR mary j blige for that matter. as a huge nina fan, i’d prefer it be some no name actress like they did for Notorius just because this has gone way too far.

    hollywood having the power to do what they want does not make it okay, it’s a part of the issue why a lot of black women have trouble getting roles as is. i bet most of could use one hand to name the big name black actresses right now that are in blockbusters and not just made-for-blacks type of films.

    and as far as your little piece about angela basset not looking like tina turner. chile, please.

    she DID THAT!

  • MissDee

    Sorry Sis,

    but as a West African, a proud Ghanaian myself who’s been reading these comments for the last 30 minutes, it looks like the West African features they’re going on about are the dark skin tone, broad nose, kinky hair, curvy body etc. Don’t take it to heart, dearest. We know who we are. Nobody’s rough copies.

  • rubylox

    This article seems to minimize the issue at hand with Zoe Saldana as the late Nina Simone. Saldana was chosen because the plot of this film focuses on a fictionalized romance between Simone and her assistant. Dark-skinned actresses with broad features are seldom chosen for romantic leads. Saldana as the choice for this role reinforces intra-racial racism and white aesthetics about beauty and the looks of the femme fatale. Saldana does not need to sing in order to play this role but there are so many other actresses whose looks and acting chops are better suited for this particular role.

  • KeepitReal

    Psssst she doesn’t need black face since ya know SHE WAS BORN WITH BLACKFACE.

  • Chillyroad


    Pay attention to the fact that I said, “…the Zoe Saldana’s of the world…” Not her specifically but all the light skinned long haired girls that are causing so much neurosis.

  • Colette Marcheline (@Cognorati001)

    That is not what this is about.

    How do you feel about employment prospects of dark-skinned actresses in Hollywood? Do you sincerely believe that racism doesn’t play into Hollywood’s profit motives? Should Will Smith play Louis Armstrong? Terrance Howard as Miles Davis?

    I don’t understand what point you’re trying to prove since I’m also Latin and have similar features as Saldana but understand fully what the objection is.

    Nina Simone is a jazz legend and the issues of her life — including the fact of her being dark-skinned and overtly afrocentric — parallel very important issues in modern history (including the Black power movement and experimental jazz). Frankly, as most Americans are ignorant and ahistoric (sorry, but it’s true) and don’t read, it’s doing a disservice to her legacy to misrepresent both her and her life in movies, which people rely on for their history and understanding of issues.

    It’s just bad. If they won’t if cast someone who looks like her, what other liberties will they take with her legacy?

    I’m a lifelong jazz music lover and Black expatriate figures like Simone and James Baldwin were instrumental in influencing my worldview. I’d rather not have that corrupted by White covert racist filmmakers with an obvious profit motive.

  • SS25

    Get over yourself. You simple, pity, and hateful. I come from people who worked hard and fought for the rights of all people. I am damn proud of that, if there was ever face a to the crab in the barrel scenario it’s you. Go read up on black american history then shut the f**k up!!

  • BoutDatLove

    I agree with a lot of the comments such as LNZY, sham f-ing wow etc.

    I would like to say that I hate that black people treat other black people like outcast because they fit into the ”white beauty standard.” First off there is no such thing as European features, we were here before them & not every black person will have full lips and the most coarse hair etc. and this doesn’t determines someone’s blackness, we are a diverse people, simple as that. We black people have been labeled to confuse us, that is why many Dominicans don’t consider themselves to be black because of the language they speak, their last names and obvious brain washing etc. but these are the languages and names of their slave masters. We black Americans should know this.

    Lastly, the whole colorism thing in the black community needs to end, period. Black is black and I think that sometimes we are too mean and hard on our own brothers and sisters because of their darker or lighter skin. Division is what white society wanted and we keep carrying the torch by continually outcasting each other and questioning each others blackness based on things like this alone. We aren’t talking about biracial’s like Halle Berry, no we talk about our own who are born to 2 black parents. Smh, we goes a long way to go. If there is a problem it seems as if it would be with biracial’s being compared to us blacks and being associated with being black because of one black parent, not light skinned blacks who are actually black, that is absurd.

    I know this is an unpopular opinion, but why is it that when we talk about colorism it only refers to the oppression of darker hues within the black community and this seems to be the only time that colorism is valid. When we can clearly see the comments and how we throw each other out as if we aren’t the same just because someone has been stamped ”approved” by the white community standards of beauty. It gets on my nerves.

    I also hate the term reverse racism, it is only used when black people speak the truth on our oppression and it is not reverse racism when other black people put you down based on appearance, it is just hate and brainwashing.

  • Barbara

    Speak for yourself sis, You may have insecurity issues with
    “light skinned long haired girls “not all of us “dark skinned eyebrow hair length girls”. FYI, light skin and long hair are not mutually exclusive.

  • Arabella

    Zoe Saldana is no
    Zoe Saldana is not “light-skinned.” She is a brown Hispanic. However, like many Dominicans,to be perfecly honest, Saldana acknowledges being “black” only when there is something to be gained from it.For me, it’s not really about her complexion which is the same as mine, it would simply be a travesty and a disservice to Nina for Saldana to get this role, when there are so many more deserving actresses whose performance could certainly make Nina’s story a hit worldwide. Nina Simone’s music,for those who don’t know, is loved the world over in every country where jazz is loved.

  • Pingback: Zoe Saldana: Victim of Colorism? | OTS Networks

  • SMH

    Yo, SMH. You’re swagger jacking me big. You can’t find another name?

  • JE

    I don’t think people are hating on Zoe. Most people love her work in “Avatar” & “Columbiana.” It’s just that when you think of a possible actresses to play Nina Simone, she would not even be who would come to most people’s minds to play her. It feels more like discrimination against dark skin actresses. What about Viola Davis, Adepero Oduye (star of “Pariah), Regina King, or N’Bushe Wright? These would be the best choices to play Nina Simone.

  • Joy

    “In this particular case, Zoe Saldana is not a victim of colorism;

    Nina Simone’s legacy is.

    This move is straight from the days when black artists would make records and white band members would be thrown on the cover to make them “marketable.””

    That is all…

  • ruggie

    @KeepitReal – Clearly Zoe Saldana is a proud black woman (or as you put it, ‘born with blackface’). Maybe the suggestion that she wear dark makeup and a kinky wig to resemble Nina Simone is cool with you but I find it patently offensive.

  • WhatIThink

    I don’t think the issue has anything to do with Zoe Saldana.

    The issue from top to bottom is why non blacks have to make movies about non black icons and whether or not black made and produced films about their own heroes and icons can make money. And whether or not biopics about historical black icons have to be “tweaked” in order to appeal to a mass “white” audience or whether they should stick to exposing the history of the struggle for Africans in America.

    My thoughts are this. Historical black icons are icons because of their experiences and actions in an America defined and steeped in racism. No film or autobiography about these icons can do their struggle any justice without fully detailing and documenting those issues. Therefore, if you don’t understand how America has always preferred the Lena Horne types over the Pearl Bailey types as ‘preferred’ in terms of features and on the beauty scale, then you are missing the point. To have a movie about a black icon whose whole struggle not be centered on her features and her message about those features as someone with features portrayed as grotesque and ugly in American popular culture is silly. Can you seriously imagine someone like Zoe Saldana having a hard time as a black entertainer in Nina Simone’s time? Not likely. Of course not.

    And why on earth is this film focusing on a “fictional” relationship as opposed to the actual real life relationship struggles and emotional issues Nina Simone faced in real life? It sounds more like a fictional effort based on a historical character but not on real life, which also means they are not really going to address the struggles that are of historical interest and concern to black people, which again is what happens when black folks don’t make movies about their own icons.

  • Cocochanel31

    This film seems like a mockery anyway and was not approved by the family. Simone’s daughter said that in real life the white man person her mother is having an affair with in THIS movie was gay.( in real life)…so I can’t even take this film seriously. Maybe one day her daughter can get her mother’s story told the RIGHT way.

  • JInx


    “The issue from top to bottom is why non blacks have to make movies about non black icons and whether or not black made and produced films about their own heroes and icons can make money. And whether or not biopics about historical black icons have to be “tweaked” in order to appeal to a mass “white” audience or whether they should stick to exposing the history of the struggle for Africans in America.”

  • p

    You know mary j doesnt look like nina either. But i dont have the money to make the flick so…i mean if jill scott was slated to play nina i wonder what would happen. The bottomline is shes skinny she doesnt resemble her at all. But ppl should b angry at hollywood or the lack of black actresses not hating on her i mean or get a film degree and make your own movie bc they dont look at stuff the same way

  • p

    ‘Biracials?’ Isnt this the issue darling if u got a white granddaddy anywhere that makes you technically ‘biracial’ ppl like to throw around their blackness. Nina simone was native american and white so technically she was also ‘biracial’ but she was persecuted as african and that is the problem hatred towards ANYONE group is a problem. So the issue is is someone else not being chosen for this role bc whites dont accept certain types of beauty and women which is wrong. The issue is and has ALWAYS been WHITE men and they need to b blamed. But given how many biracial afr americans there are bc of slavery id say this convo is moot. Stop hating on her bc she doesnt know she wants a job. Blame the bigots and do something about it peace

  • ohyeaohyea

    o-O to this whole post.

  • apple

    actually no, i have met zoe saldana on a movie set..that is def not a weave…or perm

  • chan


  • topsy

    This ‘colourism’ debate is one big red herring. Nina Simone’s daughter said NO to these ‘film-makers’. End of story. Nina’s daughter is not just her closest family member; she’s also her heir. That means she has legal ownership to much of her mother’s life. I don’t know why Nina’s daughter decided not to co-operate but I can guess. It sounds like this particular director didn’t know what the hell she was doing. Casting Zoe Saldana was probably just one of several decisions that didn’t sit well with Nina’s daughter.

    So who benefits from all of this ‘controversy’. Well the director who probably wouldn’t have gotten a tenth of this attention without America’s favourite topic, race, being dragged into the discussion. This film was probably never going to be more than a Lifetime movie along the lines of Lindsay Lohan’s ‘Liz and Dick’. Now people all over the world are talking about it. And Zoe Saldana, who has a movie out that nobody went to see, also gets a bump. I laughed out loud when I read that Saldana was being considered to play Nina Simone. Not because of her appearance, even though that is a huge issue, but because Zoe Saldana ISN’T A GOOD ENOUGH ACTRESS. It’s hard to believe that folks are taking the idea of Saldana playing a woman like Nina Simone seriously. What in Ms. Saldana’s career has given even a hint that she has the chops to tackle a role as complex as the great Nina Simone? But now Zoe Saldana is a martyr, who has suffered at the hands of those demanding Negroes who just won’t be satisfied even though they even have a President of their own! Her agent must be loving this.

    I honestly can’t think of any of the current Black film actresses that could play Simone. And I don’t think choosing a singer is a good idea. Just because a person can sing doesn’t mean they can act. An good actor can have Nina’s singing voice dubbed in but a bad performance can kill an entire project. Anyone who doesn’t believe me should purchase a ticket to ‘Winnie’ starring Jennifer Hudson and Terrance Howard. Hudson, who was wonderful in “Dreamgirls’ is incredibly bad as Winnie Mandela. In fact the only thing worse than Hudson’s performance as Winnie, is Terrance Howard’s performance as Nelson Mandela.

    There’s probably an actress out there who could do justice to Nina Simone, probably a stage actress. And hopefully, one day a serious film-maker will take the time to find her and make a film worthy of Ms. Simone.

  • chan

    Boo F HOO.
    Go complain also on stormfront to your other people.

  • Queenie

    Apparently, the whole projecct is based on a fabricated relationship with Nina and her gay male companion…Her DAUGHTER WANTS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT… As for me, i remember seeing images of Nina and Cicely Tyson as a child, beautiful and proud and dark…Afro-centric I guess would be the word, They were ground-breakers. No-one was telling black girls how beautiful they were in those days, Nina and Cicely showed the world,, Not by aping white standards of beauty, wearing ridiculous amounts of weave, wigs, bleaching their skin and contacts.. They did it with dignity and talent, not acting like whores… Nina’s memory, this film needs to reflect that… The issue is much bigger than Zoe Zaldana’s career, If she had an ounce of understanding/empathy about what this role means she would not even be considering taking it…

  • Nic

    @P, Nina Simone was not a large woman. She wasn’t even thick or curvy. Are you black? B/c Jill Scott as Nina Simone would be even more ridiculous. She’s not any “blacker looking” than Zoe Saldana. I hate that phrase but yeah, I don’t know how some black women are treated as if they look black and others look super African when their complexions and facial features are more are less the same. Zoe Saldana shouldn’t play this role but not b/c she looks white.

  • Nic

    You aren’t lying there. Nothing about Zoe Saldana’s face looks “white” and her hair is just relaxed so I roll my eyes everyone pretends as if she looks like a white girl.
    Wrong actress for this movie but she is about as barely black as I am. She’s just hella skinny. Nothing on her face is “narrow or delicate” in the least bit.

  • Nic

    I seriously think some people are so taken with non-dark skin that they are incapable of really seeing the person at all.
    It’s just part of light-skinned privilege. People see you are “gorgeous” b/c that is what they have been programmed to see when you skin is not dark. It’s really sad.

  • Nic

    That would be ridiculous casting. Celia Cruz was larger and darker and once again, Zoe does not have the kind of energy and charisma to channel Celia Cruz.
    That would be a total trainwreck.
    Being Afro-Latino doesn’t make her any better for that role.

  • Nic

    Um, since when does Zoe Saldana have wavy hair. I’ve never seen a picture of her with anything wavy or curly. This is an example of people once again seeing something that isn’t there b/c she’s Afro-Latino. Her hair is straightened. It is not naturally straight. And it looks pretty heavily processed at that.

  • niffnay

    Not about to wade through 12 pages of comments to see if someone else has said this, so forgive me if someone has.

    Being dark-skinned and not conventionally beautiful were actual barriers to Nina Simone’s success. How can you tell that story, visually, with someone who is neither dark skinned nor ugly?

  • isola

    Although I am not against Zoe Saldana playing Nina Simone. Denzel played Malcolm X, very well without any objections.You have made a great point.

  • Queen j

    Why doesn’t she consider it “colorism” that Hollywood would offer the role to a lighter skinned actress over a more qualified darker skinned candidate given the history of “colorism” in Hollywood and black movies? She probably hasn’t even noticed based on the fact that she has not been excluded from roles based on color before.. When is the last time you saw a dark-skinned model in the leading roles that she has been offered throughout her career? Due to lack of talent? I think not. Sooooo no “colorism” or “discrimination” there? To me that just shows why she is also not qualified for the role as Nina talks about being discriminated against based on being dark, of which Zoe clearly has no experience and not being able to relate..

  • godivabap

    No. Just…no. I love Zoe Saldana and I don’t hate on her at all. NOW, having said that, I signed the petition and asked others to do so. Not because Zoe Saldana isnt “black” enough (what does that mean, anyway?), but because she is not the right person for the part. Casting Saldana as NINA SIMONE is blatant, corporate moneygrabbing , Hollywoodization to fit some cookie-cutter “marketable” scheme. Just cause they can do it, doesn’t make it right. Just because Saldana is black and proud, doesn’t make her right for the part. Look at a picture of Nina, her life, her words, her legacy and then look at Saldana, her acting skills, singing skills, other roles, etc. It doesn’t add up.

  • flower

    angela basset played rosa parks and she’s like 4 shades darker than Rosa and no one saw a problem…hmmm

  • Blogger X

    actually…to those of you who are saying that ms simone’s daughter didn’t want anything to do with the movie, you’re wrong. in fact, she’s rather hurt that she’s not more a part of it, as i read in an article some months ago (wish i could find it to link to it).

    i find the idea that ms saldana being too “light-skinned” to play the part interesting…especially given she’s a little darker complected than ms stroud, ms simone’s daughter…

  • Would you have Zoe play Oprah?

    If Zoe was cast to play a role about a *fictional* singer and activist, fine. However when you cast someone in a BIO PIC its because they EMBODY that person not only in their acting ability but in APPEARANCE. Point, Blank, Period! Would you consider Zoe to play OPRAH? NO! Because THEY DON’T LOOK ALIKE! NOT because she isn’t talented. The same with Nina Simone! Another example is Jamie Foxx playing Ray Charles, it was SPOT ON, the resemblance was Uncanny! You felt like you were really watching Ray Charles, you weren’t DISTRACTED by Foxx’s appearance. Give someone that favors the person you are trying portray the Respect of casting someone that will favors them!

  • Erin C. Perkins

    Great point. There are some cases where the physical appearance of a person is not as essential to a performance as believably portraying a person’s qualities and characteristics.

    As the author noted, Angela Bassett was EXCELLENT as Tina Turner. Malcolm did great as Malcolm X. Will Smith was awesome as Ali. But if a person’s aesthetic is important element of their life story like Nina Simone, it might be hard for character’s to buy into Zoe Saldana as the character.

    I think she’s a fine enough actress. But can Zoe Saldana deliver a performance that makes us overlook the fact that she doesn’t resemble Nina Simone? I don’t know.

    I vote Jill Scott for the role or is Angela Bassett available again?

  • Erin C. Perkins

    Great point. There are some cases where the physical appearance of a person is not as essential to a performance as believably portraying a person’s qualities and characteristics.

    As the author noted, Angela Basset was EXCELLENT as Tina Turner. Malcolm did great as Malcolm X. Will Smith was awesome as Ali. But if a person’s aesthetic is important element of their life story like Nina Simone, it might be hard for character’s to buy into Zoe Saldana as the character.

    I think she’s a fine enough actress. But can Zoe Saldana deliver a performance that makes us overlook the fact that she doesn’t resemble Nina Simone?

    I vote Jill Scott for the role or is Angela Bassett available again?

  • Beautiful Mic

    Post WWI Immigrant black bloodlines… is what I meant by that… Blacks who come from OTHER blacks from OTHER geographically isolated, non-American culturally isolated black peoples.

    That’s what I meant by OTHER type blacks. I have no authority over the matter…

  • anon

    The producer of this film has practiced colorism in her casting of Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone. Saldana is not the victim here, the image, social and aesthetic legacy of Nina Simone is.

  • anon

    She has light undertones combined with a keener set of features which makes her light skinned.

  • Charlotte

    A major part of Nina Simone’s identity as an a Black-American woman artist was how she was treated due to her dark skin, kinky hair, and non-European features. To ignore these facts is an insult to her legacy. It’s also an insult to the millions of Black American women with these same features.To ignore the socio/political impact of the overall lightening of Black American women to make them more “palatable” is neither constructive nor based in reality.

  • Pseudonym

    Denzel could pass for Malcolm X. Just do Google Images search of “Denzel Washington Malcolm X” to get the side-by-side photos.

  • Valerie

    I have to say that I’m thrilled that folks are calling out the term “reverse racism.” I’ve been raging against that term for about twenty years. To use it, to me, is to say that whites corner the market on racism, and that any other race can’t possibly be racist. The term literally means (from, though look it up in your reference book of choice):

    1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.

    2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.

    3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

    Nowhere does it say, “when white people think their race is superior to any other race.” I need people to stop using that phrase in sentences!!!!!

    That is all.

  • Paula (@grooveparlortv)

    you’re welcome Lasaundra!! i’m reading her autobiography now and she mentions being dark-skinned at least 3 times in the FIRST chapter. she was very aware of her phenotype & complexion and how society ‘saw’ her.

  • Paula (@grooveparlortv)

    @So Over This…
    To dissect your point… DARK-skinned actresses have always been on the bottom of Hollywood’s colorist/racist priority list. If the darkest actress in the color spectrum isn’t allowed to play a variety of roles, the rest is moot. While light-skinned Lena Horne, who became in her words “a butterfly pinned to a column” (source:, and Dorothy Dandridge were allowed to be presented as ‘sexy’ (1940-50s & far from invisible) — dark-skinned actresses had to play MAIDS and weren’t allowed to be presented ‘sexy’ or ‘intelligent’ until the 1970s – example: Lola Folana & Diana Ross. In 1950s Hollywood, Zoe Saldana would have been treated like Lena & Dorothy. Let’s be HONEST…we all know for CERTAIN she would NOT have been cast as the MAID.

    Nina in a sexy little black dress in 1976 televised in Montreaux (not the USA) video link:

    The SIGNIFICANCE of that 1976 MOMENT…Zoe can’t pull that off.

  • Deborah M

    Thank you however this will continue to be ignored over and over again and again. The darkest women are pushed to the side NO MATTER HOW MANY INROADS THEY MAKE even for the lighter ones like Zoe who refuse to understand what it takes to be very dark skinned with true African features, be heard and remembered because you have something worthwhile to say.
    Most important thing we can do is to make our own movies, put them in our own theaters that tell our stories about us in the true sense ignoring Hollyweird’s interpretation of us.
    I have a feeling that the stories we tell among each other could be a huge healing for many of us. There is so much to tell and not just from the US side but all sides of our diaspora. Again I say, focus on the darkest skinned people

  • Queenie

    ““When I go to the D.R., the press in Santo Domingo always asks, “¿Qué te consideras, dominicana o americana?” (What do you consider yourself, Dominican or American?) I don’t understand it, and it’s the same people asking the same question. So I say, time and time again, “Yo soy una mujer negra.” (“I am a black woman.”) [They go,] “Oh, no, tú eres trigueñita.” (“Oh no, you are ‘dark skinned’”) I’m like, “No! Let’s get it straight, yo soy una mujer negra.” (“I am a black woman).”

    By her own words, apparently (and tellingly), even the Dominicans, her own countrymen do not consider her black… I wonder why? Calling herself a black woman (because her career is here) is her only option. They have a name for women who look like Zoe in DR, “triguenita” we don’t have such distinctions in the US. Black is just black, fortuitous indeed for her…

    I agree with the post that said Zoe’s not being discriminated against…
    Women who look like Nina are,.

  • Blessed

    When did Zoe become light skinned? Zoe skin is brown, her nose and lips are full. Zoe has the so-called “negroid” features that Rosie Perez posses. Zoe isn’t even as fair as Beyonce, Tina Knowles, Jasmine Guy, Vanessa Williams or Alicia Keyes, nothing about Zoe looks “white”. I do not think she should portray Nina but its not her looks Im questioning its her acting ability.

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  • Andre

    There are no “true african” features. there are plenty of africans with small noses. there are plenty of black africans who don’t have features like nina simone.
    funny how people take the blacks with the biggest noses and lips, and say this is what people from africa look like. just a myth!

  • renee

    Let me put it this way, since a lot of people truly do not understand Nina’s Legacy, It’s like casting Zoe Saldana for the role Lauryn Hill. It’s just wrong.

  • Queenie

    Andre, for most black american people, their concept of “african” comes from within an american context. Of course there are a million different looks of black african people, but generally the most despised in the states, historically are the the ones who look like Nina; dark skin. broad nose and full lips… (I don’t find ZS particularly attractive, she is rather plain with a somewhat gaunt appearance and a thin top lip.. I honestly don’t see what the fuss is about her looks…) Anyhoo, that’s not the point, the point is this woman who doesn’t look like Nina was chosen above all other actresses who would accurately reflect Nina’s dark beauty. Many of us see this as a problem… It’s almost as though the only time a dark skinned black woman is portrayed she must be a a monster or victim, as in Precious or a maid. Nina broke that mould, and casting someone like Zoe ignores that, understand?

  • thedeal


  • Misty

    While I like Angela, I actually would have personally preferred her top be light-skinned

  • Misty

    No one is questioning her blackness nor how proud she is to be black. What boils my blood is that people who are making comments like this really do not get it. That question of “blacker than thou” tribalism is so irrelevant to what people are pissed off about. So before you brush us off a “haters”, listen to what we have to freaking

    Nina Simone was also Native American and white (so the “true blackness” thing is not even an issue). However, she did have kinky hair, very dark skin and a flat nose. Those struggles of “colorism” (see that word) in being a dark-skinned woman, along with racism, were so much a part of her music and her life story. When you make a biographical movie of a historical, you are honoring their life story as best as one can. Ignoring colorism within that would be wrong. It’s not about Zoe’s blackness, but Nina’s legacy.

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