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Zoe Saldana Transforms into Nina Simone for New Movie (PHOTOS) and Receives Negativity for Her Portrayal


Zoe Saldana has transformed into the legendary jazz singer Nina Simone for an upcoming movie biopic entitled Nina, the story of the late jazz musician and classical pianist including her rise to fame and relationship with her manager Clifton Henderson.

Although Zoe - who is half Dominican, half Puerto Rican - considers herself black, many people are outraged that Zoe was chosen to play the part because she "isn't dark enough." I've also seen comments where people asked why couldn't a dark-skinned actress portray Nina, like Viola Davis.

A Facebook comment was left on Nina Simone's fan page, from user Princess Latifah: 

"I am more outraged at people telling us that there is nothing to be outraged about. Are you freaking kidding me??? This film is a typical standard of Hollywood trying to gentrify, and whitewash black people and black history. Nina Simone's skin tone was a central core in everything she was about, and a central core of everything she faced, so to put a lightskinned latina with european features in blackface for her role is a slap in the face to her legacy." 

In 2010, Zoe did an interview with Glamour magazine where she was asked about why she touched on the topic of race during past interviews.

Zoe answered: Because ethnic is a word that doesn’t exist in my vocabulary. In Hollywood, you hear things like, “Oh, they loved you but they want to go more traditional.” That’s the new N word. So when [someone says] I look “dark,” I say, “Dark compared to whom? This is just my skin.” 

Zoe has also made other comments in interviews and once said:

"..why the f— would I sit down and talk about how hard it is for Black women in Hollywood when there’s a Black president in my country?”

New photos released from the movie set (shown below) have further pissed people off. Zoe Saldana is seen wearing a nose prosthetic and skin-darkening make-up, in an attempt to resemble the real Nina more accurately.  



Mary J. Blige was originally cast as Nina Simone, but dropped out due to scheduling, per the movie's screenwriter, Cynthia Mort.

Fan Demerise Valier from Baton Rouge, LA even started a petition on back in August asking the filmmakers to cast someone else as the lead in the film "who actually looks like Nina Simone."

"For too long Hollywood has gotten away with this practice of revisionist history and it is time that we let our voices be heard, be it by this petition or by boycotting the movie if no change has been made as to who will portray Nina Simone. This is not a diss to Zoe Saldana. She is an excellent actress, but this movie role so much bigger than her undeniable talent," the petition reads.

Cynthia Mort (who is white) believes strongly in the project, describing it not so much as a strict biopic but rather as a story about Nina Simone's artistic journey. She told EW: "Any creative decision is difficult…I feel very strong about it [the project] in every way. I feel like we're honoring her, Nina Simone." 


Not everyone is upset about the casting choice. Singer/actress Jill Scott said earlier this month:

"Zoe is an incredible actress," she told Hello Beautiful

"I think that there should be some work done, like a prosthetic nose would be helpful and definitely some darker makeup. If Forest Whittaker can become darker in "The Last King Of Scotland" then I believe Nina should be treated with that respect. She was very adamant about her color about her nose about her shape and her self and there needs to be some homage paid to that." 

Some Latinos even gave Zoe a hard time when she starred in the 2011 movie Colombiana, an action movie about a little girl whose parents are murdered in Bogota and later becomes a stone-cold assassin. There was a campaign called PorColombia against the movie, which Zoe called stupid 

Instead of this turning out to be a wonderful biopic about a great legend it seems like everything is turning into Zoe Saldana being light skinned vs. dark-skinned actresses who should play the role instead.

I like Zoe Saldana as an actress. I'm looking beyond the color of her skin and I will watch the movie when it comes out and see how she did playing the role of a legend.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you think there is a prejudice in Hollywood? 

Nina is set to come out in 2013.



  1. People get on my nerves! It is a freaking movie and an actress/actor is just that. Now if they chose a while woman then ok be mad. As long as she plays the daggon part and plays it well then I do not care that she don't LOOK like her.

    1. Meant white...trying to type too fast

    2. Exactly! like let the movie come out first to see if she did a good job portraying her


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