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Zoe Salanda’s casting as Nina Simone in an unauthorized biopic directed by Cynthia Mort drew harsh criticism from many, including Simone’s own family, who argued that Saldana bears little resemblance to the singer, who died in 2003 aged 70.


Musician India.Arie even said “they should have chosen someone who looks like Nina Simone,” and an online petition for a boycott of the film attracted more than 10,000 signatures.

During a chat with BET, Saldana described her initial reaction to the criticism as “very disappointing.”

After the photo below was released, in which Saldana’s skin was darkened and her nose enhanced with a prosthesis, people took to social media to air their grievances, pointing out that casting her was a form of black face.

In a 2013 interview, Saldana responded the criticism and defended her casting, saying:

“The Nina Simone story needed to be told, and I’m really blessed that I did it. I’m human. I wish I was made of steel and so certain things wouldn’t affect me. Just like everybody else I feel very strongly about Nina Simone, and that (this) was a story that needed to be told. I do believe that if everybody had more information about how this all came to be, it might help,” she added. “But then again, I’m not here to get the acceptance of people. I’m here to be an artist first.”

Now, the 36-year-old New Yorker of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, tells the July issue of InStyle magazine that she didn’t think she was right for the part.

“I didn’t think I was right for the part, and I know a lot of people will agree, but then again, I don’t think Elizabeth Taylor was right for Cleopatra either,” she said in the interview. “An artist is colorless, genderless… It’s more complex than just ‘Oh, you chose the Halle Berry look-alike to play a dark, strikingly beautiful, iconic black woman.’ The truth is, they chose an artist who was willing to sacrifice herself. We needed to tell her story because she deserves it.”

Moviegoers can expect to see “Nina: The Biopic of Nina Simone” in theaters before year’s end.

For more of Zoe’s interview, check out the July issue of InStyle, on newsstands June 15.

Biopic Brothers and Sisters
34 photos

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(Photo Source: PR Photos, Zoe Saldana Facebook)


8 thoughts on “Zoe Saldana Agrees She Was ‘Not Right’ for Nina Simone Role

  1. Church Girl on said:

    I agree, she wasn’t the right choice. They should have gone with a black actress instead of a non-black. I know when they do a biopic about the Obama family, FLOTUS’ actress betta be a sista lol!!!

  2. Crystal Peters on said:

    just as Cynthia replied I’m impressed that a mother can profit $9802 in a few weeks on the computer . pop over to this website ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, WAGE-REPORT.­Ⅽ­O­Ⅿ

  3. Sunshine on said:

    What gets me is this…if you think you’re not right for ‘something’, then do the right thing. Is there nothing sacred anymore?

  4. kay M on said:

    I was one of the critics that spoke out against Zoe playing this role, Utterly ridiculous. Also, I’ve read and seen numerous interviews with Zoe Saldana and have never heard her speak up for or support Blacks in Hollywood or the movie industry.

  5. Dawn on said:

    Zoe is a great actress, and there were many roles played where the actors/actresses did not resemble the role. Look at Lady Sings the Blues – Diana Ross was not remotely close in resemblence of Billie Holiday.. We look past the negativity of light and dark skin – we are better than this…

    • Ms Curly on said:

      I agree. I thought that the job of a actor is to become someone else and make the audience believe that you are that person. I don’t think you have to look exactly like them.

  6. Diamondgrrl55 on said:

    I think India arie would have been good for the role as far as looks. I think that there are darker skin actresses who would have been great for the role! Zoe is just popular so that could be why she got the role. She is a talented actress and I’m curious to see her work with this role.

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