Zoe Saldana Covers

Zoe Saldana is media blitzing for her upcoming film projects, including “Nina” and “Star Trek.” The Puerto Rican and Dominican actress graced the May covers of Latina and InStyle’s spring hair issue and bared her soul for those willing to listen. Many women of color, particularly black American women, tuned out after she accepted the Nina Simone role, but that isn’t pulling Saldana down from her soapbox. She addressed the “Nina” critics, detailed her hesitation to star in “Star Trek” and discussed her love for Latinas in both issues.

Here are several highlights:

From InStyle:

On Her Hair, Complexion and Latina Heritage:

“In Latino culture, hair carries a lot of history, a lot of weight, and a lot of energy. I always liked my hair. I never wanted to have any other skin but my own, any other hair but my own.”

On Fashion as Healing:

“My mom raised my sisters and I with a strong sense of self. [My mother] always said, ‘Honey, there is nothing that a red lipstick and a pair of red shoes can’t heal, cure, or solve.’ And I absolutely believe that. They can get you out of anything, even the biggest funk of your life.”

From Latina:

On Her Role of Uhura in “Star Trek”

“I was afraid…I was very concerned. I think I was just a little beside myself because after the treat and the gift of booking Avatar and being in the middle of shooting, to be able to then do another great movie with another great filmmaker back to back—I was a little overwhelmed and I thought: ‘Maybe I should just take some time off and focus and just rest?’ But my mom is a Trekkie, and my team was like, ‘Zoe, are you stupid? Don’t let fear immobilize you. This is an amazing opportunity to step into the shoes of an iconic character in an iconic series and it’s in space and you’re a sci-fi buff.’ And I was like, ‘oh my God, who am I kidding? Absolutely. I’ll totally do it.”

On the Nina Simone Backlash

“The reality is that nobody knows the story as to why this collaboration came to be—nobody knows the full story—and at the end of the day all I’m going to say is that every person that is a part of this project came together for no other reason than the unconditional love for Nina Simone’s music, her persona, her life, what she did, what she left for us, what her music still continues to do not only to women, but to Americans, and African Americans, and also people of color, just everything. On all spectrums, Nina Simone’s story is worth telling and with the members that it came to be, like it’s just…you have to give it a chance…Watch it and then make up your mind. I’m happy that we all held together and we went for it. No regrets.”

On Not Needing A Man

“I don’t want to need things. I need water, you know what I’m saying? I need to exercise, I need to eat. To be with a man, should be a want. I don’t need anybody. And the people that I do need are just family, tu entiendes? But a man is something that I want, I want be with a partner, because this partner is going to add or I’m going to add to this partner.”

“Star Trek” opens nationwide May 17.

  • Keshia

    She still should have not got the part as Nina Simone. What Nina went through as a BLACK woman not only in the music business but in life was completely ignored when they cast Zoe. They might as well cast me to play JLO in her biopic since race isn’t really a big deal.

  • Sista_Woman

    Regardless of her perched and snuggled position within the den of the Hollywood elite, she still has no support from me behind this Nina Simone ‘biopic’. She is getting paid and that is all. She has no depth of history beyond what has been coached to her by her handlers.

  • Ken

    The headline is misleading. She doesn’t address the primary criticism AT ALL. That makes me like her even less.

  • http://www.urbanexpressive.com J. Nicole

    She may as well kept quiet like when the hoopla began. Seems as if whoever has made up their mind not to watch won’t, and vice versa. I get it, she needs to take a paycheck because Hollywood sure as hell won’t be casting her as a Latina anytime soon. Do I still think she should have turned it down? Yup! But I guess in the long run its more important for her to be a working actress, not one who does the right thing.

  • http://www.clutchmagazine.com Clutch

    Hi Ken – It’s not misleading as she does address and make a statement about “Nina” – this is a snippet form the interview. You will have to purchase the publications for the full article. Thanks!

  • ivrop

    Zoe is a black woman as many of our diasporic brothers and sisters are. Being designated Latino or Hispanic is by no means an indicator of RACE; it simply means Spanish speaking and the sharing if values indicative to that culture. Black Latinos also have suffered a long, painful and complicated history with discrimnation and race, complexionism etc. And while Zoe’s physical facial features differ greatly from that of Nina Simone’s, I can’t understand how anyone can deny her blackness.

  • LMO85

    I agree, sometimes I am not sure if it is just semantics or what but even though I agree that a darker-skinned woman should have portrayed this role simply because skin tone was intricately linked to Nina’s experience—sometimes it does appear that a segment of Clutch readers openly cast dispersion on anyone that is not dark skinned. As if in this country in particular, there is only one way to be Black. It is a major turn off.

  • Keshia

    But Zoe identifies as a Latina and there is nothing wrong with her doing so. To me it’s like when people who are mixed called themselves black no you are not black you are biracial and that’s that. Zoe should not have just got the part because she is brown skinned..that does not equal being black.

  • http://tontonmichel.tumblr.com Tonton Michel

    “Nina Simone’s story is worth telling ….”

    She got that one right it just doesn’t need to be told by them. Fabricating a story on her, dressing up in black face, and than dismissing people’s critiques? You would of thought it was white privilege at work here. Ain’t no one denying she is black but her actions prove she is the wrong black.

  • RJ

    Zoe Saldana is black and comes from the same slave ancestry as Nina Simone. She is the same race as you and I. Her nationality is different.

  • Keshia

    So can I still portray JLO?

  • Fantastico

    No the problem is that people misinterpret critiques of Colorism as hatred of light people; the same way people misinterpret critiques of racism as hatred for white people and the way people misinterpret critique of sexism as hatred of men.

  • aziza123

    Why is she wearing indian hair if she loves her hair so much?

  • The Other Jess

    wow…the wrong Black….Is that where we are at today??? Scary.

    If Adepero Oduye (Continental African), Lola Falana (Cuban American) , Idris Elba (Continental and british African)and Laz Alnoso (Cuban), Richord Pryor (Puerto Rican and Black American) aren’t “the wrong Black”, then why is she?

  • The Other Jess

    Now if she had said “F*ck you, I’m not Black and don’t want to be”, y’all would be in an uproar over that complaining about how she was “denying her obvious Blackness” and was just a white wannabe. Then again, maybe she should say that and tell the haters to take a flying leap. Don’t be down without anybody who won’t be down with you.

  • Really?

    I think many people understand that Zoe is black or has significant black ancestry. She looks like many African Americans with similar racial makeup. The problem is that many Black Latinos and African Americans are mixed to some degree. People act as if they don’t understand that being mixed affects your physical appearance. It is not right to cast a person’s whose skin tone, hair texture, nose size, and lip size have been affected by her mixed heritage as Nina Simone (her physical appearance was a big deal) and then use a bunch of makeup to make her look like Nina. And yes, Zoe has a wide nose and is not fair skinned and all that, but she looks much different from Nina Simone. They had to use a fake nose, a fake butt, and darker makeup.

    It’s not about her being Latina. People play others outside their ethnicity all the time. Most complaints I have seen have not been about a black Latina playing an African American. They have been about her facial features being different from Nina Simone’s and her doing blackface. Beyonce is African American, but I would not want her to play Nina Simone either.

  • The Other Jess

    The same reason half these Black American girls are wearing the same hair style. And besides, who says it’s not her real hair just straightened out? It may not be Indian Remy, just a relaxer. But even if a weave, how is that any different than anyone else with the same hair style?

    Why are you acting like Kelly Rowland, Beyonce, Gabriell Union, Gabby Douglas, Jada Pinkett, Oprah, every chick on Love & Hip Hop and the Basketball Wives, and every other Black woman you see walking down the stree, etc etc aren’t wearing the same straightened hair? Come on, plz.

  • Really?

    @Fantastico – Yes! You have to break it down for people in ways that unaffected groups can understand.

    When white women say racism isn’t that big of a deal, you have to ask how would you feel if your boss was a sexist pig that made sexist or sexual jokes at you all day?

    When black men say sexism isn’t that big of a deal, you have to ask how would you feel if your boss was a racist pig that called you ‘boy’?

    I have no idea why black people (who experience racism) and black women (racism and sexism) think it’s okay to try to shut darker skinned women up when they talk about the injustices they face because of colorism. It is so insensitive because if they were to face a problem as a woman or a black person, they wouldn’t want their concerns to be trivialized or labeled as ‘jealousy.’

    And I’m light skinned. I just think casting Zoe in this role was completely wrong. No one has ever tried to deny my blackness. This isn’t about denying her blackness. Zoe has played nothing but black women (mostly African American) in all of her roles. No one made a big deal about her playing Uhura or being in a black sorority playing an African American woman in Stomp the Yard. She wasn’t in blackface. She didn’t wear a fake nose and a fake butt. There’s a big difference.

  • Really?

    She says

    “In Latino culture, hair carries a lot of history, a lot of weight, and a lot of energy. I always liked my hair. I never wanted to have any other skin but my own, any other hair but my own.”

    So if she loves her hair, she wouldn’t wear a weave I would think. I don’t think all those women you listed feel the same way or have ever stated that they love their hair that much.

    That being said, I think this is her hair.

  • nikki

    you guys know that black women aren’t the only ones who wear hair weaves? kim k or jessica simpson ring any bells

  • http://gravatar.com/pinklipstick227 pinklipstick227

    I loathe the idea that black women are easily replaceable. We didn’t see a black woman play Selena. Why should Zoe play Nina Simone?

  • The Other Jess

    Oh, and btw, aziza, many women in India wear hair extensions, so don’t get it twisted. A lot of people don’t know that, but many do wear them for style or to thicken their hair. I’ve seen it in action. So can we just get off the hair dos?

  • http://gravatar.com/pinklipstick227 pinklipstick227

    Being willing to wear black face to portray a woman with darker skin makes her a very wrong type of black.

    The irony of it all is that she wants to celebrate the life of someone who by today’s standards wouldn’t be able to portray herself.

  • The Other Jess

    @Really: I hear you, but I never agree with that argument that to love your hair means you can’t wear it straight. Black women have all the privileges of other women and we can wear our hair in different styles and textures too. There’s nothing wrong with that. I wear my hair straight about 50% of the time, and natural the other 50%. And in high school I wore a relaxer 100% of the time – not because i didn’t like my natural hair, but to be in style. And I love my hair.

  • The Other Jess


  • The Other Jess

    I agree with Really.

  • http://gravatar.com/dginki Kim

    Can you prove that she comes from the same ancestry? Are you part of Ms. Simones family?

  • noir45

    Keshia, but you are not the caller of who is black or not. It’s an individual thing. Technically, a mixed person is a conglomeration of their parentage, but if one wants to be called black, it’s not up to you, me, or anyone else to tell them different.

    Halle Berry’s mother raised her as a black woman, and we all know Halle’s mother is white.

  • BeReal


    You can’t play Jlo. In all actuality she probably has little African ancestry but is white and Taino. You’re probably mostly African with some European. A different mix. Zoe is mostly African with some Europe and or Taino.

  • noir45

    As long as they can make disparaging comments about black woman it doesn’t matter to them what woman of other races are doing. They get a pass. It’s orgasmic to them.

  • http://tontonmichel.tumblr.com Tonton Michel

    I don’t recall any of them painting up in black face to play an American legend in a fabricated story of her life. But if they did you better believe they would be the went type of black.

  • aziza123

    Even iff what you’re saying is true, women in India wear their own fake hair, they don’t put african hair on their head. Get real.

  • RJ

    Real Hair Alert-OPrah, Jada Pinket Smith and Zoe Saldana do not wear weaves. It is their hair.

    Ok – as you were. LOL

  • aziza123

    Jessica and kim put white people’s hair on their head. They use clip-ons. They dont hide their own hair, they just want bigger hair. Black women braid their hair and then put another race of hair on top. Their own hair is never to be shown.

  • RJ

    Perhaps some of the posters on this board should start coming from a place of fact and not from a place of emotion.

    Zoe Saldana is a Black woman who comes from the islands. Has it ocurred to anyone that this woman looks like a taller and skinnier verson of Jada Pinkett Smith. Yet because Jada comes from the hood we accept her as black = Zoe Saldana was born in America to black parents.

    I have a very similar look to Zoe Saldana including skintone and hair length, I just happen to have been born in american to parents who were born in the south.

    I think a lot of people who comment at clutch think that they are being intellectual by saying that this woman is not black or that someone who has a white parent is not black, all you are doing is doing the work of white america who want to divide and conquer people of the African diasopora.

    So next are you going to tell me that Vanessa Williams is not black. JLO on one of her albums looks just like Vanessa Williams.

    We are digressing as a people and we cannot even recognize ourselves anymore.

    You can down arrow me all you want but at least I know the truth.

    Stop the madness!

  • ivrop

    Zoe identifies as a Latina, in the same vein as Bob Marley identifying as Jamaican, Mandela as South African, Antonio Vargas as Puerto Rican, Rihanna as Bajan. We need to know our history beyond our borders. Perhaps the argument speaks more to casting and not race nor nationality.

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    “Halle Berry’s mother raised her as a black woman, and we all know Halle’s mother is white”

    um, logically, how is that even possible?

  • LMO85

    @ Fantastico and Really–I agree that way too much of the time, those with privilege tend to not understand and wrongly identify critique with discrimination or bias–However, on this board, more often than not–that is not the case. This site is mostly commented on by intelligent black women-at least I would like to think. But you have to really be honest, there are times when folks comment on stories here from a place of pain (whether it manifests through hate or anger, jealousy, etc.)–particularly when it comes to articles about certain women, certain entertainers–and for whatever reason, the comments do tend to come across as bitter or spiteful.
    In the case of this particular story, I think most of us would agree that we don’t feel Zoe was the right choice for this woman’s life story. Nina’s looks were integral to her experience as a musician, a woman, etc. Not to mention the irony of the darker skinned actresses who were not asked to portray her, who are still experiencing today, the very thing that negatively impacted Nina.

    But if you can acknowledge that some people are dense and need to have their privileged point of view explained to them, than I am suggesting that you can acknowledge the opposite. Sometimes people who are hurting say hurtful things to hurt others, period, point blank.

  • Keshia

    Kim has worn has Afro textured weave, and not all black women wear straight weaves there afro textured and kinky curly weaves out there.

  • Really?

    I got my movies mixed up. I meant to say Drumline, and she was on the dance team.

  • Keshia

    It’s not that’s what I’m trying to say. But people are not understanding that..at all.

  • Jennifer

    2013 and people still don’t know the difference between race and ethnicity? Wow. Smh.

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    I don’t think anybody should question whether or not she is a black woman but people do have the right to question was she the RIGHT black woman for this role and no matter how you dice it the answer is no.

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly


  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    “Has it occurred to anyone that this woman looks like a taller and skinnier verson of Jada Pinkett Smith”

    isn’t jada bi racial? or was that bi sexual? IDK

  • http://www.nobusinessnoshow.wordpress.com Marketing Gimmicks

    I don’t care what her background is because that’s really not the issue at hand. Zoe is a beautiful woman but…

    Zoe knows good and damn well she don’t look nothing like Ms. Nina Simone. Period. SMDH. And the only thing she is proving is that she’s as hardheaded and stubborn as old gum on the sidewalk.

    This is continuing to be all around bad press for her because she seems to be indignant on ignoring the obvious: that she was not born to play this role and that this is all around HORRIBLE casting.

    *Kisses Teeth*
    We all have to face the truth of when we need to stick to the rivers and lakes we’re used to. Face the music Zoe. You were a poor choice for this biopic.

  • Really?

    These people are saying “black”(race), but they mean “African American” (ethnicity).

    Americans use black and African American interchangeably because we are usually talking about black folks in America and folks don’t want to say all of that. People do it so much that a lot of people mix them up and don’t know the difference.

  • Really?

    Yes. I’ve seen the articles about light skinned women or biracial women. Many comments are dismissive about the problems lighter skinned women face. I think when these events happen it’s kind of like a “well we have it worse” reaction. White people can experience discrimination too, but I’m sure many black people would probably have a similar reaction. Is it right? No, but honestly I have not really noticed more negative comments about lighter skinned celebrities on this site. I mean the majority of the big black female celebrities are light skinned anyway, so if people have negative comments towards celebrities, they will most likely be light skinned.

    Who are these women? I know people pick on Beyonce, but I don’t really think there’s a lot of light skin jealousy going on there. And the times when she’s been picked on have been when she’s done something not so bright. I have not seen as much negativity towards say Rihanna or Halle Berry like the comments against Beyonce. I think this just has more to do with people picking on Beyonce for not being bright.

    But yes there are women that have been hurt who make mean comments about lighter women. I just don’t think this is the reason that Zoe has gotten a lot of heat though. And I don’t think negative comments on this article are about light skin jealousy.

  • Ms. Vee


    The problem with your comparison is that Kim K, Jessica Simpson and the others aren’t wearing Afro textured weaves. White girls wear white people hair. Black girls wear…everyone’s.

  • justanotheropinion

    Seems to me, if you have to put on ‘black face’ to portray a character, then maybe you weren’t the right choice. I’d LOVE to portray the great Nina Simone (if I could sing or act), but i don’t come anywhere close to even slightly resembling her. Zoe should have taken the higher road and passed on this project – regardless of her admiration for Nina. Sometime you just have to stay in your lane….

  • The Other Jess

    jada is so NOT biracial. Now you’re making things up.

  • The Other Jess

    It’s true, and I don’t know whose hair they’re wearing, I just know it’s not their own that grew out of their heads. It could be horse hair for all i know. I just know that for some in India, extensions are used. No different than here.

  • The Other Jess

    Not true, aziza. Almost all of the hair weaves and extensions in America come from Asia, particularly South Asia. They just bleach the hair to blonde for white women and others who want their fake hair light. So sorry, but white women are definitely hanging other races hair on their heads. And my mother told me that in the 70s many non-Black and white people used all kinds of perms, permanent waves and wigs to get afros, including whites. You’re very uninformed.

  • The Other Jess

    Documentary Film: Hair India (2008)

    “The journey of a young Indian woman’s hair, donated to the Temple to be then converted into exquisite hair extensions in Italy. This same hair will then return to India to satisfy the whim of a successful career woman in Bombay. A story of the cult of beauty in the era of globalization. An original view of today’s India with its contradictions. A kaleidoscope of modernity, economic expansion and ancient traditions. “

  • Nic

    Thank you…I hate how this always dissolves into a conversation about her race. She’s a black woman. As black as any of us. Her slave descendents just happened to be forced to speak Spanish instead of English. Really nothing special to see there but it demonstrates how woefully ignorance Black Americans remain about the slave trade and the history of Black people in the Western hemisphere and the true extent of the African diaspora.

    We are ignorant of what is happening today, of what happened last year, and what happened 50, 100, and 500 years ago, or this would not even be a conversation. When will the ignoranc end/

    However, some of us are well aware that being Latino is not a race and that being Latino doesn’t make her less black than the rest of us.

    But Zoe Saldana playing Nina Simone is as silly as Kerry Washington playing Nina Simone.

    Since being very dark skinned is an important part of the story of Nina Simone, it is silly to have a medium brown (which is what I think Zoe is, not light are nearly white as people seem to pretend) woman playing her. So there are loads of black women who would look silly playing this role and I’m tired of all of the derailing or unrelated issues that come up ever time someone tries to have an opinion about it.

    I also think that at this point we know this trainwreck movie is coming out and I guess white people can go see it and will likely love it since they are big time apologists for nonsense like blackface (and since Zoe’s nose is wide, I think the nose prosthetic is frankly just insulting and over the top).

  • Nic

    I’m clearly not in charge but judging from her original nose, her curly hair, and her bottom, I’d say yes on you playing JLo.
    I guess you can use makeup if you are darker but people are really ignorant about how much black is down there however anyone who wants to pretend JLo’s famous backside didn’t come from the motherland is delusional, and I’d wager there is a lot of “African” in her Puerto RiCAN.

  • Robin

    You know who would make a good Nina? That chick from Walking Dead. Beautiful dark skinned woman with full lips. Could have been a good fit.

  • apple

    thats because thats her REAL hair idiot!

  • Misty

    JLo happens to be half black btw. She’s 100% puerto Rican but one of her Puerto Rican parents is black

  • Camryn

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