There has been a lot of talk around the black blogosphere regarding Zoe Saldana’s casting as Nina Simone in an upcoming unauthorized biopic of the legendary singer’s life.

While most have roundly criticized Saldana’s selection to play the role because the Afro-Latino beauty looks nothing like Simone, others have decided to wait and see how the young actress will handle the role.

Now, filming is underway and more photos of a visibly-browned Saldana have leaked to the web, and let’s just say…we’re not impressed.

New pictures of Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone

Instead of casting an actress that wouldn’t need painted skin or prosthetics to mirror Simone’s looks, Cynthia Mort, the film’s director, chose to pick Saldana whose lighter skin and less pronounced features look nothing like the jazz diva.

But that’s old news. What’s new is we now see the director’s vision of Saldana as Simone and, it makes me a bit sad.

While I’m glad Mort didn’t “white wash” Simone’s skin and story by allowing Saldana to play the singer unassisted, I’m dismayed because any number of quality actresses (Viola Davis or Adepero Oduye for example) could have pulled of the role without needing to be “blackened up.”

new pictures of Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone

But alas, that’s just not how it went down and we’re left to wonder how the final project will turn out. But if these images are any indication…it’s not looking good.

  • open minded

    Looks like her to me, shrugs.. hmm I will not judge this film until I get the opportunity to see it.

  • Yvette

    What more can we say about this that hasn’t already been said? She’s wrong for the part, period.

  • African Mami

    I want Zoe to issue out a statement, and tell us why she chose to do this project, despite strong reservations from Nina Simone’s daughter.

  • open minded

    Because she was offered to do the role.. lmao and she is an actress, why should she give up a role because of others opinions. Lol hilarious. I don’t think it needs a statement anyone with common sense could come up with that.
    I know I would not give up the role if it was me, so I can’t expect her to, also we do not know she may be a huge fan of nina, as everyone else is all of a sudden claiming to be and this could be something vey important to her.

  • Nicole

    I still dont see the big deal! Im happy for Zoe.

  • Charle

    Looks more like a caricature than an homage.

  • Cee Cee

    Why not give it a chance?! I loved Madonna as Eva Perón and half the country of Argentina protested her being cast. I definitely don’t think just because Nina’s kid objects that she should have passed on the role. Her new coloring reminds me of Forrest Whitaker when he played Idi Amin, and he did an excellent job. Let’s try and cut some of the criticism until the actual film comes out (or at least the trailer) and we see what it is going to really be like. Geesh!

  • deebsooreal

    I seen these pictures yesterday and I feel like she is blackface…

  • deebsooreal

    …in blackface…

  • Mademoiselle

    I was just going to say the same thing. This movie will have to be beyond phenomenal for this makeup to not be the slap in the face it’s looking like so far.

  • Liz

    Shut up.

  • Liz

  • Liz

    In reply to African Mami

  • Apple

    That make up uneven

  • lala

    Exactly. Ugandans weren’t complaining when Forrest was Idi Amin (well, he was a bad guy) or Jennifer Hudson as Winnie Mandela.

    Lets wait for the trailer.

  • Rue

    You do realize that the movie industry is based mostly on “others opinions” right.

  • myblackfriendsays

    I don’t see what the big deal is. Denzel Washington’s skin tone is darker than Malcolm X’s, but Washington did a phenomenal job in Malcolm X.

    Is the upset really about the fact that Saldana doesn’t look like Simone? Or that Zoe Saldana is light skinned and wearing dark makeup? Or that Saldana is Latina?

    I mean, if they had taken an actress who was darker and lightened her skin with makeup, would there be as much of an issue? I am genuinely curious.

  • African Mami

    open minded,

    I know, that she is an actress. I know she can accept any role that she well damn pleases, BUT why play right into the mouths of the Hollyweird sharks.This biopic is unauthorized which means the characterization of Nina Simone is going to be offbeat, which it already is, anyway. Oh well!!

  • Natasha Ryan

    With all due respect, who the “f” is the peanut gallery called “we” in the we are not impressed statement? Let me guess-they are people who have way too much time to criticize someone who is actively pursuing her dream. Not all roles will be perfect, but give it a rest. Can we see the film before joining the main stream media in tearing a bright, beautiful, Black woman down???? Just sayin.

  • sbee3

    Diana Ross played Billie Holiday who was visibly a much lighter skinned tone. No “transformation” took place to make Diana Ross more like Billie Holiday, because it is about the performance, not the appearance. If you ignore the part where Ross plays Holiday as a child (which less believable given her age), Ross played Holiday masterfully. It got her an Oscar nomination. It seems like a lot of work has gone into the transformation Saldana, with no regard to the sensitivity of the issues behind having to use make-up to darken her skin. I don’t look kindly on those who tell me I should get over “it” or whatever they are referring when it comes to black people protesting descisions about our portrayal by white Hollywood executives. As if this isn’t or never was an issue. Saldana’s post racial dismissal of comments further display her inability to grasp issues around performing in blackface in her chosen profession.

  • SSZ

    Lots of folks complaining have no idea how Hollywood works. Actors don’t get cast in bio epics simply b/c they look the part. Forrest Whitaker looks NOTHING like Idi Amin Dada. Actors get cast b/c a producer/company thinks that actor will have box office appeal. While there are many candidates who may resemble Nina, none that I have seen mentioned have Zoe’s box office appeal. That’s primarily why they cast her.

    The fact that the biopic is unauthorized means nothing. This movie could have been based on an authorized biography that the producers obtained the rights to. The fact that the family doesn’t approve of the movie doesn’t sway me in any direction. Ike Turner wasn’t happy about his portrayal in “What’s Love Got to Do With It.”

    Finally, it’s Zoe’s job to ACT. Why would she turn down an opportunity to prove her acting chops? To make a statement? To whom? About what?

    I’m not going to judge the movie based on a few stills. This is opportunity for Zoe to show us her acting chops, personally, I hope she succeeds.

  • victoria

    Me too. And I will hold judgment until after I see the movie.

  • victoria


  • Nesheaholic

    She doesn’t look like herself. Whether she looks like Nina or not is up for debate, but when I’ve seen these and other pictures before I read I didn’t realize it was her. Prosthetics will always be used to make someone’s features look like someone else’s, but I’m still surprised that they went with someone who mandated so much makeup.

  • open minded

    Liz, bless your soul. :)

    Rue, with that being said the opinions do not matter, because the movies are still being made. What one critic dislike another will love. That does not make one opinion right and the other wrong it is just the perks of life.

  • victoria

    nice comment

  • binks

    Exactly, still won’t be supporting regardless how this film pans out…shrugs

  • jamesfrmphilly

    i suppose there are no dark skinned actresses in hollywood?

  • cocopuffs

    she looks a LIL better now

  • __A


  • J. Gail (@Author_JGail)

    She looks absolutely ridiculous – what a shame this all is

  • Anthony

    As much as I dislike the casting Saldana, you are telling a simple truth about casting stars for box office.

    I still dislike the fact that a darker actress was not chosen. This reminds me of when Charlize Theron was casted as the real life serial killer in Monster. Media types made a big deal about how such an attractive woman was made up to look much more plain. I thought, why not cast a plain, but talented actress for the role?

  • ohsowrite

    it’s just kind of ironic that Nina Simone went through so much simply because of her dark skin and now she’s being portrayed by an actress in blackface.

  • African Mami

    “What one critic dislike another will love. That does not make one opinion right and the other wrong it is just the perks of life”


  • Oh Please

    Ummm. So all a person has to do in order to be considered right for the role is to be black and perusing a dream? Why not have Alicia Keys or Mariah Carey star in the Whoopi Goldberg story? Makes no sense right? Especially when many still consider Whoopi to be a punchline!

  • Oh Please

    Butt Billie Holidays appearance was not integral to her life story now was it? Nina Simone’s was. It was part of her politics and something she spoke on. So why pick someone who’s appearance cannot speak to that?

  • Oh Please

    How can she ACT like she understands what its like to be denigrated for being dark, kinky haired and full featured? If that is the case we could have just as easily picked Kate Hudson or insert ANY blond blue eyed actress if all it takes is having the ‘acting chops’. Some things just don’t translate if the physical appearance is not a part of the equation.

  • Oh Please

    IF she were such a fan then she would know Nina’s struggles. IF she were a fan she would have respect for her legacy. Taking the part shows she either knows and just does not care or really isnt a fan.

  • Britni Danielle

    I’m not sure what you heard about J-Hud as Winnie Mandela, but EVERYBODY complained about that, even Winnie Mandela.

  • silkynaps


    My question to the naysayers would be “So which seasoned actress, exactly, looks like Nina Simone?”

    By the author saying that Viola Davis or Adepero Oduye should have been chosen, intimates that all Black people…specifically dark-skinned Black people…look the same and to that I take great offense..

    I see too much personal bias and/or insecurities around this one. Pick your battles because this one seems much ado about nothing.

  • godivabap


  • Lasaundra Watson-Legate

    Why didn’t Whoopi Goldberg star in The Queen? Some actors/actresses would be so discordant in certain roles that they damage and distort the truth of the story. In this “bio-pic”the choice of Saldana is an affront to history and an insult to the life of the great Nina Simone.

  • Downsouth Transplant

    One more time, i hope Zoe can sing like the angels at the throne of glory (that is >6 voice parts, in unison good all at once) otherwise all this make up not to look Like Ms Simone, it will be such a shame *Shrugs*

  • Joan

    A Black Latina in blackface. Not surprised. LOL. They will put someone like her in blackface before they give a black actress a chance. They could have saved the money on makeup and let Anika Noni Rose play her. (Now, she would be great.) It’s not as of Zoe Saldana is box office draw. She had better be good, that’s for sure.

  • simplyme

    LOL, really? I’m sorry but this kinda looks like Blackface. To those defending the movie, even mainstream entertainment outlets are questioning her casting and resemblance to Simone. I really do wish Zoe the best and hopefully she pulls it off, but something tells me this is going to be one of those movies that goes down in history as being amazingly bad.

    An even with the questionable casting aside…the make up is horrendous. Besides darkening her skin how exactly is her make up supposed to look like Nina Simone. Zoe just looks sick… In none of the pictures did they play up her eyes which was Simone’s best trait imo. Some winged eyeliner would have helped…

  • LorriK

    I get that people have opinions about casting but for her to not take an opportunity to work would be a poor choice on her part. Of course, there’s always going to be chatter but it shows the need for Blacks to be in the casting chair.

  • jourdan

    I know most people won’t agree, but I think Zoe is very deserving of this part. She is a phenomenal actress. Yes, there are actresses that look more like Nina Simone, but why bash Zoe? She only auditioned for the role. Bash the producers who hired her if anything. I’ve seen some really horrible comments about Zoe, which is making me cheer her on even more for persevering.

  • Lasaundra Watson-Legate

    It’s true, the makeup does look like Black-face! I think that Zoe will rue the day.

  • Lasaundra Watson-Legate

    The artistry of Nina Simone owed a lot to how she looked. Had she looked different, she would have had a different life experience in racist and “color struck” America. The casting of Zoe Saldana dilutes and confuses the narrative.

  • Lasaundra Watson-Legate

    Saldana looks ridiculous. Sadly, I’ve never seen her in anything that makes me think she has the acting chops to pull off this role.

  • Simone

    For the record, even though shes a “black latina”, she’s still a black actress. So “someone like her” is a black woman, even if she has a latino background and isn’t specifically “African American”. Just because she has a spanish background doesn’t mean she isn’t black. There are Latinos that are even blacker and browner some African americans.

  • chanela17

    wait a second, why is nobody mad that halle berry had makeup and prostetics and a wig to play a white woman in the movie (that just came out this friday) called cloud atlas?

    isn’t that the same thing?

  • jourdan

    I know some won’t agree, but I really believe Zoe is deserving of great roles such as this one. Not to say another actress couldn’t play this role (and probably do it better), but why are we bashing her? If anything, be mad at whoever cast her instead of another black actress. It’s not fair to go after Zoe for doing her job, in my opinion. She’s an actress, of course she’s going to take the roles. I also have a huge problem with this “she’s not Black enough” thing in the air. I’ve read some really cruel comments about Zoe, and I wonder if we realize that it’s hurtful. Everybody throws in that she’s “only” half Black, even though she identifies herself as a Black woman. Well, Barack Obama identifies himself as a Black man and we claim him as our “Black” president, not our “Half-Black President”.

    We may not all agree, but some of these comments are just too much!

  • ….

    Why would the women on this site(black women) care about a biracial actress being chosen to play a white actress? Is there a history of that happening making it hard for white actresses to get jobs in hollywood? Second, Halle Berry (among others in the movie) is playing multiple characters at a time( shes also playing a man).Its not like the movie is about this one white woman and they purposely chose to disregard all of the white actresses in hollywood just to choose Halle. Third, the character that shes playing is NOT REAL. If Sanaa Lathan was chosen to play Marilyn Monroe (& that would never happen) in a movie people(white people & white actresses) would definately have a problem with it.

  • Anthony

    Although I do not support the casting of Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone, I think criticizing her for being a black Latina is nonsensical.
    She is a black actress plain and simple. I just think that there are better black actresses for the role.

  • T.

    Zoe Saldana *is* a black actress. As you said yourself, she’s a black Latina, and she’s an actress. Therefore she’s a black actress.

  • T.

    Agreed and agreed. You’re talking sense.

  • bk chick

    I think in order for anyone to understand the criticism against casting Saldana needs to look at CONTEXT. If you view this incident in an isolated state: Zoe getting cast as Nina vs. the conext: The overall trend of Hollywood devaluing dark skinned black women by either ignoring them or stereotyping them, then you will not see why there is backlash. Particularly in this case Nina’s complexion played a large role in her artistry. To pick an actress that you have to put in blackface for this role is lazy and insulting. There are other actresses that don’t need to be darkened to play this role.

    Now, I def agree that the argument is that Zoe Saldana was chosen to put butts in seats. But is that okay? Holywood is notorious for coming out with crappy movies and casting crappy singer/dancer/”actors” to play important (and not so important roles) just to increase box office numbers. By continuing to fill the seats regardless you are sending the message that “Okay hollywood, I support your poor decisions because for some reason I will not stop spending my money to see your crappy movies. Do you HAVE to buy that $11.50-$13.50 (yes, that high in NY) to see a movie? Really, is it necessary? The only way Hollywood would get the picture is if people did a little self sacrifice by saving their money and demanding better. Viola Davis could’ve played this sans black face, plus after her Oscar win, wouldn’t she be a box office draw? I guess not unless she plays some other ultra stereotypical role…OR Hollywood can stop being lazy and take a chance on an unknown, or relatively unknown actresses that will fit the bill and wait and see what the box office tells them…

  • Mike

    I saw a more picture of an older Nina Simone sitting at a piano. Sorry ladies she was not super dark. She looked like a BROWN skin black woman with black features.

    When did we get to the point of a brown skin black woman being too light too portray another black woman? Last I checked brothers didn’t have a problem with Terrence Howard playing Mandela.

  • Mike

    More recent

  • Valsays

    If this were a “hispanic” role given to a black actress all hell would break loose in the spanish speaking community. We tolerate a little and hollywood feels they have a pass to do whatever they want in our name.

  • Echi

    My major hang-up is that this is a unauthorized biopic that has been shunned by the Nina Simone estate (her family). For me, that’s enough to boycott the film. Adding an actress in blackface is simply pouring salt into the wound.

  • Lasaundra Watson-Legate

    There was once a Black man who played a character call “Step -n-Fetch It”. By all account, this actor was well payed for his day. He dressed immaculately, spoke eloquently and lived well but, it has taken more than a generation to escape the consequences of the image he created. “We” can’t afford to permit our images and our icons to be mismanaged.

  • Barbara2

    @Mike It’s the BLACKFACE!!! Do you know anything about American Black history? Do you know what Blackface means? Did aany of those actors you refer to put on Blackface or light skinned face to portray their roles?

    This woman is doing Blackface for God sake!!

  • Ms. Write

    So…I’ll be waiting for the AUTHORIZED biography that will probably not only be cast better but be a better screenplay all together.

  • Lasaundra Watson-Legate

    I agree!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • MonaLisa

    This has nothing to with Brown/Black/Purple. It has to do with the story not being told correctly. Her love interest in the movie is a gay man in real life! And are you not seeing the cheap wig, clothes, horrible makeup, fake nose, and teeth?!

  • Lasaundra Watson-Legate

    Sad but true.

  • Dee

    She must need a job bad to allow someone make her look that foolish.

  • mwbn

    ok when charlize theron did it she got an oscar so why are we hating on Zoe Saldana?

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