Zoe Saldana is tired of defending her Blackness.
After the Dominican beauty was accused of donning black face to portray jazz icon Nina Simone, Saldana has repeatedly explained her choice to take the role. Now, as she gears up for the release of her next film, Star Trek Beyond, Saldana is once again speaking out about that film.
In an interview with Allure, Saldana said she doesn’t regret taking on the task of playing Simone because she helped to school a new generation about the jazz legend.
“The fact that we’re talking about her, that Nina Simone is trending? We fucking won,: she said. “For so many years, nobody knew who the fuck she was. She is essential to our American history. As a woman first, and only then as everything else.”
To make her case, Saldana explained that without her signing onto the film, it wouldn’t have gotten made at all.
“The script probably would still be lying around, going from office to office, agency to agency, and nobody would have done it. Female stories aren’t relevant enough, especially a Black female story,” she said. “I made a choice. Do I continue passing on the script and hope that the ‘right’ Black person will do it, or do I say, ‘You know what? Whatever consequences this may bring about, my casting is nothing in comparison to the fact that this story must be told.'”
While most of the criticism centered on whether or not Saldana was the right skin tone for the role, some took things a bit farther, questioning her Blackness. To be clear, as an Afro-Latina Saldana is as Black as the rest of us, but she decided to address the issue anyway.
“There’s no one way to be Black,” she explained. “I’m Black the way I know how to be. You have no idea who I am. I am Black. I’m raising Black men. Don’t you ever think you can look at me and address me with such disdain.”