Zoe Saldana Responds To Criticism Of Her Playing Nina Simone

Zoe Saldana Responds To Criticism Of Her Playing Nina Simone

I think it's fair to say that of those who know that Zoe Saldana is playing Nina Simone in an upcoming movie about her life, about roughly  98.2% of them, think that it's an outrage and an insult that she's playing the part.

O.K. Maybe I exaggerated. It's more like 98.1%.

So it was inevitable that, at some point, Ms. Saladna would respond to all the criticism and attacks that she's been on the receiving end of; and she did just that, this weekend, at a pre-Oscar celebration event.

Take a look and tell us your thoughts:

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Comments

John

Zoe is a beautiful and talented Woman. This conversation has very little to do with that. She is a Woman of Color, but Latina. I say that because I have met quite a few Latinos who have gotten mad at me because I though they were Black. Quite a few Latinos have a mix of African blood in them, CHECK YOUR HISTORY (even though most of them would rather omit that part).The fact remains that she is Latina. Nina was African through and through. She lived it, lived thru it and was stronger for it. It is absolutely appalling to dress Zoe up with "African Features" when you had several candidates whom could have easily filled that roll without needing "BLACKFACE". I feel it is an insult to the legacy of this beautiful soul, and an affront to every dark skinned female that struggles thru everyday life because of the Color of their skin. And they are not famous, So what SOCIALLY REDEEMING VALUE DO THEY TAKE AWAY FROM THIS. Robert Downey Jr. got a nomination for playing a Black man. What Black actor has gotten a nomination for playing a White man. And I am not saying anything that anyone does not know already. The real problem is not Zoe, it’s Hollywood…AND THAT’S REAL TALK. In an atmosphere of real racial equality, this may not have been an issue. But given the current state of Race relations in the US, the choice of Zoe was not a good idea. I think the insensitive producers of this film were thinking with their wallets and not with their common sense.

Valencia

Would Kerry Washington be criticized for playing a Latina, you bet your but you would be. Skin color aside, she does not identify as black as never claimed to be black, it is the equivalent of Emma Stone playing an half asian/hawaiian character.

Ijeoma

Black Americans have alot of deep seated issues, a legacy of slavery, Zoe Saldana is of African heritage why should she not play a role because she is slightly lighter in skin tone?? Shame on them to show this lack of solidarity. Black Americans do not have a monopoly on blackness half of them do not even know where they orignate from in Africa! Yet they feel that they can spout and spew nonsense.
And before you attack me I am a half african Nigerian woman of Igbo descent who knows her history back 550 years and trust me you all should shut up and stop complaining!

Christopher

Zoe is a smart woman. She should have known that she wasn't right for the role.

BA

My Husband is Fully Black And Looks Mixed And Has The Whitest White Man's Pinocchio Nose You Have Ever Seen. Not All Black Have African Features. That Is Why We Are Considered Black Americans Non Of Us Were Born In Africa Therefore Non Of Us Are African. Just African Heritage, But So Does Latinos Have African Heritage.

BlackSista

This site is racist and doesn't speak for all black women. Newsflash people Black women also date white men. So she can't be black because she dates white men? If that's her preference then so be it. None of us, Blacks born in America are African. Yes we have an African heritage / ethnicity but our Nationality is American and our our race is Black because we all all mixed with something or another. I understand that she is Latina but they too have African heritage.. So does Dominicans and Moroccans.. Zoe looks black and she is black.

Bruh

Obviously. Zoe is between White guys, so she needed something to keep her busy until another one comes along. This is the most absurd casting in quite some time. As bad as Aretha, with her gigantic ego, suggesting Halle play her, in a film. Halle had the foresight a-n-d common sense to know she was not a good match for that role, and wisely refused to really consider it. If only Zoe had as much wisdom. You don't have to be a clone of the person being portrayed, but it helps to have something physically in common, especially when Black. This is why Brandy should play Venus Williams in any possible movie, and not Monica. Its why Halle was so great as Dorothy Dandridge, and why Jamie was superb as Ray Charles. It was easy to envision them as the people they played. NO ONE WILL LOOK AT ZOE, AND THINK NINA SIMONE!!! If anything, they will think, "Won't someone give this hoe a sandwich???"

Nita

Would you see Meryl Steep ever play a whore? Or a maid?
Why couldn't Steven Speilberg cast a black actor to play Lincoln? Not believable? Why not. Daniel Day Lewis is British.
Would you see a black actor play Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netayanhu? A jewish person in any production? Why not.
But it's called Acting, right.

Nita

Would you see Viola Davis play the Queen of England? Or Margret Thatcher? Or Golda Meyer?No and why not. But she's an actress, right.

Lauren

Any film a celebrity's family is happy with, isn't telling the whole story… Bottom line is, when anyone decides to be a public figure, whether in the entertainment business or politics; their life becomes part of the public domain and liberties will be taken; tragedies and triumphs will be made larger or smaller depending on who's telling the story. That's the way it is and always will be. Even if Nina Simone's daughter wrote the screenplay herself, there would be errors and omissions and someone, somewhere would be complaining.

anon

of course shes gonna defend her postion she wouldnt have done the role if she didnt agree with it for goodness sakes she chatting pure garbage

getawayjordan

I'm not a big Zoe Saldana fan per se, but I have no problem with her playing the part. She was probably chosen because the producers needed a bankable star to get funding for this project, and Zoe is one of the few bankable actresses of color in the business. My problem is with the filmmakers for not reaching out to the family (daughter) of Nina Simone for their input or blessing. Of course (from what I understand) the storyline is so contrived that it is no wonder they chose not to contact the Simone family. But, back to Zoe, she is just an actress trying to work her craft. I don't blame her for this. She is caught in the middle of a bad situation. Too bad. This project will need a strong African-American audience to turn a profit, and it appears that the producers of this film have really gone out of their way to alienate the black community.

Alisha-@ZenMamaPolitic

The sad part to all of this; as stated below skillfully by Ann 'Thank You'; is the fact that it's only about racism and whatever latest technique is being used to promote White Supremacy. In all of these cases below..its Hispanic or 'olive-skinned' in-between races. Not to mention, it demeans the very character of Nina Simone & Black Activism~the most important part. If you read..you will see that Nina Simone's daughter hated this idea as well, and stated that it was done as a revenge method against her mother. I agree. Also; I agree that its a swing of revenge against all of African American women. Well.. in that case I say. Batter up. It's gonna be a long game.

chillz

So wait… Afrikan Americans are the only Afrikans in the Western hemisphere? I'm pretty sure Zoe, Family were slaves just like Nina's. Just Nutty negroes need to leave that SISTA alone.

Triple

She said the right things but why did she look so fake and uncomfortable why saying it???

Ann

To those of you calling others racist for critisizing Saldana, keep in mind that they have PAINTED Saldana's' SKIN DARKER. They placed an AFRO on her head and put PROSTHETIC ON HER NOSE to make it look bigger. Saldana herself has said she identifies as an Afro Latina, not black. This is basically casting a Hispanic woman to play an AFRICAN AMERICAN woman. That is racist. If you look around online and understand what Nina Simone actually did for the Black Woman, you can see why people are in such an uproar. There are a TON of talented actors and actresses of color in this country, but Hollywood is so blind to these undiscovered talents because they cast famous actors and actresses and have them play roles that they do not understand nor can they relate to. Such as Ben Affleck and RDJ playing Hispanic men in Argo and The Soloist. Or how Jennifer Lawrence played Katniss Everdeen, who in the book is described as a girl with DARK HAIR AND OLIVE-TONE SKIN. People need to open their eyes to the real issue at hand here–white privilege.

Said in Los Angeles

If Nina Simone meant so much to Black people, especially the ones lambasting Zoe, they could have made the move themselves. Nina's daughter has been in Friday (or whatever state she lives in) for sometime, nobody approached her that could do the project righteously? Black folk, especially the ones in Hollywood that have the money to make these projects and possibly showcase great talent constantly let other people dig up and shine our buried treasure, and then complain after the fact…

Fall Sapphire

sooooo, the problem is Zoe is pretty? The girl is from East Orange, considered the blackest city in NJ. what's the problem? her looks, her skin color? according to the one-drop theory which Black folk have accepted and made it their own, Black reality is one of one-drop–through the ages.

Bohwe

Since you Mrs.Saldan-Marquez said , "don't hate", ok so since you are so bold in your statement, take your post and send it to Simone , Nina's daughter website, facebook, send it to the Nina Simone official twitter. Tell Simone , "don't hate", your mom's memory means jack, now shut your black behind up, and worry about the black folks killing each other. It's easy to defend the movie, because you are not family .

Angel Rodriguez

Honestly, I never heard of Nina Simone until right now. I can't comment on her life or details, but, I do agree with a prior post that stated that the family should have been included in the process.

CAM Jr

To those of you who are up in arms about Zoe Saldana being cast in this film, I have but ONE piece of sobering advice for you: when you cast YOUR film about Nina Simone, cast whom YOU want! Until then, your opinion (albeit SPIRITED & PASSION-FILLED) is of NO CONSEQUENCE to the check writer(s) of THIS Nina Simone project. He/She who holds the PURSE strings makes the decisions. REMEMBER that!

Mrs. Saldana-Manriquez-CHICAGO

She is AFRO LATINA! AT least she is doing it out of love not out of spite as some actress's have done. Like Jennifer Lopez imitating to be a Mexican American Singer Selena, my first reaction was just as the negative comments below, she's not Mexican or is a desendant of Mexican blood, what does she know! I didn't appreciate that because as a Mexican American woman I felt there is so much potential to find a Mexican Actress in Latin America that could have played Selena… But after seeing the movie and seeing that Lopez did appreciate the doors that Selena opened for her, I couldn't judge her! She played it fair! I applaud Saldana – stay true and always keep your chin up! If someone who felt they could have done better, then maybe the African American actresses's did not step up the plate as much and as bad as Saldana wanted it!!!! Now, maybe instead of this we could focus on your African American youth that went buckwild in Chicago Ford City Mall. Do you think Nina Simone, Mrs. Rosa Parks, MLK jr. is proud of that~… I think NOT! Focus on that, instead of who won the role of Nina Simone! Don't hate!

Bohwe

GUESS WHO'S HURTING, AND MOST LIKELY SHEDS TEARS, THE ONLY PEOPLE THAT MATTER IN THIS SITUATION, NINA SIMONE'S DAUGHER, GRANDDAUGHTER AND BROTHER. HER FAMILY DIDN'T WANT THIS FILM BEING MADE BECAUSE IT'S BASED ON LIES, THEY WEREN'T INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT, EVEN THOUGH THEY OFFERED THEIR INPUT. THEY DIDN'T WANT ZOE SALDANA TO PLAY NINA SIMONE. LOOK AT IT FROM THEIR PERSPECTIVE, HOW WOULD YOU FEEL, IF SOMEONE WAS PLAYING YOUR MOTHER WITH A TACKY AFRO,PAINT TAN ON THEIR BODY, AND A FAKE NOSE. DON'T ANYBODY DARE, NOT TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION THE SIMONE FAMILY. SO THEIR TEARS ARE IRRELEVANT BECAUSE THEY AREN'T CELEBRITIES. I FEEL FOR ZOE, BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY, IF SOMEONE TOOK MY MOTHER'S LEGACY DESTROYED IT, YOU BEST BELIEVE I WOULD FAR MORE THAN WRITE A BLOG ABOUT IT, AND ALLOW MY SITE MASTER TO RESPOND. A LAWSUIT WOULD BE IN THE WORKS. LOOK AT IT FROM SIMONE'S PERSPECTIVE, HER MOM SPENT HER WHOLE LIFE FIGHTING AGAINST BLACK RACISM, FIGHTING IN A WORLD THAT TOLD HER SHE WASN'T PRETTY BECAUSE SHE HAD BLACK DARK BLACK SKIN, NAPPY HAIR, WIDE NOSE AND BIG LIPS, AND WHEN SHE DIED, HOLLYWOOD TAKES HER STORY, AND MAKES A MOCKERY OF IT. BY EVERYONE'S RESPONSE, IT'S BLANTANTLY CLEAR THAT PEOPLE HAVE NO IDEA WHO NINA SIMONE REALLY WAS. TRYING TO GLAMORIZE NINA SIMONE. SAD. THIS IS BEYOND THE ZOE CONTROVERSY, THIS IS INDIRECTLY TELLING OUR BLACK GIRLS WHO LOOK LIKE NINA SIMONE THAT THEY AREN'T GOOD ENOUGH, NOT PRETTY ENOUGH , EVEN IF THEY HAVE NATURAL TALENT, THEY ARE UNACCEPTABLE IN THIS WORLD, BECAUSE OF THEIR LOOKS. STOKELY CARMICHAEL SAID IT BEST, BLACK FATHERS TELL YOU'RE BLACK DAUGHTERS THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL. FOR ANY BLACK FATHER OR MOTHER, WHO HAS CHILDREN IN THEIR LIVES WHO LOOK LIKE NINA SIMONE, TO DEFEND THIS TRAVESTY IS SICKENING. BUT THE MINUTE, CHRIS BROWN IS ATTACKED IN THE MEDIA, BLACK FOLKS RUN TO HIS DEFENSE, LIKE HE'S LIVING IN A MUSLIM COUNTRY. THIS IS SAD. NINA IS SPINNING IN HER GRAVE.

getthesenets

Do you think this film is primarly being made for international market?

I don't think Nina was ever a major star in this country..among Black audiences or "mainstream" audiences.

Last few Hollywood biopics that I've been aware of were about people who sold millions of records in the United States..and were either huge crossover stars or mega stars in their own rights in the genre of music that they performed in the U.S.

Nina was neither. I think that's why the producers are banking on Zoe's name to sell the film.

F Browne

I am not angry at Zoe Saldana. I'm angry and disappointed with the producers and director who think an actress who look more like Nina Simone would not be attractive enough to bring – I guess – white people to the movie. I imagine, anyone who would want to see this movie black or white already appreciates the inner and outer beauty of this lady. So maybe it's the producer who is projecting her own discomfort with women who look like Nina Simone.

Ashunda

It seems like she's very hurt by the criticism and is trying to keep a level head, put on a strong front to deter people from the fact that she's seriously bothered by what people are saying. Although I don't agree with the casting, I'm not surprised by it as Hollywood is a money making machine, and it's all about numbers. Does that excuse this attempt at casting? No, but it sheds more light on how the system works. Names=box office. In this case, I'm not sure, though I'm convinced that people will either flock to the theaters or wait for it on Netflix.

Dr. GEE

First we are outraged that not enough blacks are hired. Then we criticize the ones that are hired. Which by the way, why are we mad at Ms. Saldana if she was offered a job and she decided to do her best at it. No one takes a role and says "Let me see how much I can screw this part up". Obviously the maker of the film thought enough of her to ask her. I also don't understand why we're judging a part we have not yet seen her portray. I think at this point we've forgotten that art requires some imagination and if your imagination does not stretch that far, then don't consume what is being served. I wonder if Nina was alive if we'd think enough of her to play herself or if we'd want to do as when she was alive and try to "correct" a few things about her too. Choose love man.

Justin W

Classy response by Zoe

blunt talker

I have three strikes against Zoe playing Nina. Strike 1=In Nina's last interview she stated she wanted Whoopi Goldberg to play her. Nina also stated , I never changed my hair, my skin color, and she was proud of remaining the way she always looked. Now who's disrespecting Nina's legacy. Hollywood and Zoe. If someone was making a movie about one of your famous relatives without consulting your family, you would be up in arms and very angry too. This is telling the Simone family , we will make a movie about Nina whether the story is true or not and we don't care what you think. Total disrepect to Nina's family and what the singer has stated in one of her last interviews before her death. Strike 2= Until Zoe explains what she meant about black actresses getting off their butts to find movie roles,because she wasn't having trouble getting roles in hollywood. That doesn't sound like she understands the black women actresses working in hollywood to me. I won't give her pass on that statement ever! Strike 3=If Zoe and hollywood really cared or studied the black community before making this movie, they would know skin darkening and fake features is big discomfort to this racial group. Black people in their 50's, 60's, and older can tell you how degrading this is for them to see on screen. No caring or sensitivity at all.

Monique a Williams

I appreciate her response. Heartfelt and classy. I'm gonna give her performance a chance. I.m sure it won't be the worst movie I've ever seen.

Black is Black

Give the woman a shot, see how she does, THEN bash her if she doesn't do justice to the role.

And let's not gang up on the Latinas/Dominicans that deny their Blackness… there's plenty of Black folks in America that hate/deny their Blackness, their AFRICAN-NESS, cuz last time I checked most of these sistas are still buying Indian hair from the Koreans who make millions off your insecurity about your natural hair..

Gene

Instead of being informative, progressive, and interesting at all, this site is fast becoming nothing but pettiness, gossip and Bull Shit.
There seems to be more of a "Facebook" or Twitter mentality here than any serious discussion about minority and black films in particular.
Your readers seem to have no clue what the reality of Hollywood is. God bless any minority actor that gets any substantial role here. And any Black or minority film that actually gets made and released. What a bunch of amateurs.

Matthew

I think that there are so many other more important issues around the world that need attention – the casting of an actress? Really just be glad that her story will be told – and further more give it a blasted chance – just like every thing in life – how could you make a decision on something that you have no information on. Isn't that some form of prejudice?

willie dynamite

Waay too much emotion has been spent on this casting decision. It's a movie people not a documentary. Commenters have already listed a multitude of casting choices that folks did not have a problem with because the actor did the performance justice. The film industry is an industry devised to make money. She was probably approached about the role following the success of Avatar -the highest grossing film in history. The Producers want the film to obtain the best distribution situation possible so casting a marquee name helps with that goal. Lastly, let's not forget a very important fact. The woman can act, so give her a chance. Everybody calm down and save your comments until you have at least SEEN the film.

Nikki

Zoe has described herself as a Black woman in the past. The problem I have with this is that she's a mediocre actress.

Big Styles

*diasporic sigh* from a 2005 interview: "Whenever she goes to the Dominican Republic, the press asks her if she American or Dominican. She says she is a mujer negra, a black woman. When they tell her no, she is trigueñita, light brown, she answers, “I am a black woman.” – Zoe Saldana.

I understand you're pissed about this, but no one has anything to say still about Denzel Washington playing Malcolm X. Wrong skin color, much too attractive actor – but did he pull it off? Also, no one seems to be struck by the irony of Nina Simone "fans" denigrating someone based on their appearance. Lastly, the subtext of all these rants is: "In my mind Nina Simone was ugly and dark skinned, Zoe is too light and attractive to play an ugly person" Really nigga? Get that hate out your heart and actually look at some clips on Nina Simone, she was beautiful, thin as a rail in her youth almost model-esque. What kind of a fool is you that gives Mariah Carey a pass and stops a card carrying black woman like Zoe at the door? I wish Tyler Perry would put out another movie so you bourgeois negroes would have something else to be mad about.

Alex

I think my biggest hang up is she is now saying something different about how she identifies herself than she had done previously; but clearly she seriously believes she can pull it off, it would be suicide to take it on otherwise, surely? Attacking her on personal level, not fair, attacking her choice to agree to 'black up' …that's a little disparaging, considering she must have done enough research into the life of Nina Simone to realise how contradictory it would be to anything the icon stood for?… Also many people are angry because there were other stars who could have been considered and maybe they were, we – but it's frustrating that we're and I mean black women in film, are still here. Some are favoured more than others, and the ones that have features like Ms Simone are still at the bottom of the pile. I wonder if asian men are complaining about Jim Sturgess' depiction in Cloud Atlas…surely that was borderline racism on a more murkier scale

John Brown

I like the sister. But we go from black face to blacken face, and is suppose to be progress? Negro please.

jeni

So sad that she still doesn't get it. Hollywood myopia. It's not about her love of Nina, it's about who would have done justice to her legacy. Acting-wise and appearance-wise, it's definitely not you, boo. Also, based on the comments from Ms. Simone's family, the source material does her a disservice as well.

Chaveevah Ferguson

okay, this is the first time I've ever heard Zoe Saldana acknowledge her African/Black roots…and that's fine with me. before, I'd found it difficult to see how someone who doesn't at least self-recognize as Black was going to be able to even attempt an honest portrayal of someone as unapologetically Black as Empress Nina. The side-by-side stills of Ms. Saldana in costume are lifeless and lackluster, compared to Nina Simone, who looks vibrant and regal, ie, comfortable in her own skin; I hope that Zoe will be able to bring something real to what I'm sure is a very challenging role, and a difficult persona to try and recreate for the screen.

urbanauteur

Maybe that director should've hire those CGI make-up artists from Avatar?

Deedee

She seemed shaken by the mean comments, but not stirred! SAY IT LOUD, Z-SALDY'S BLACK AND LATINA AND SHE'S PROUD!!!!!!!!!!

Africameleon

Her statement alone, regardless of casting…. very classy. She took the high road, and I believe that she has undergone a great amount of stress and self searching. I'm always on the side of healing moments and teaching moments instead of criticism that doesn't take us further as African diasporic peoples.

Whether OTHER Latin@s identify as black or not is besides the point. She DOES identify as black AND Latina and there's nothing wrong with that. I wish people wouldn't make that part of the controversy such a big issue.

The jury is still out on whether Ms. Saldana is/was the right actor for this role. That has been my grip about the casting, more that the issues of complexianism. Viola Davis serves up a plate of a$$ wh!ppin' to all! As far as I'm concerned she is the standard right now. And they could have made her look younger, and progressed her age as needed for the role. But again, that is not what the filmmaker was looking for. Saldana's casting speaks to who they want to attract to the film. She's a "pop corn" movie actress. She's steppin' it up with this role, true. But I don't know if they are trying for OSCAR territory. It doesn't seem like it since this is NOT a biography b/c so much of her actual biography has been omitted and fabricated. We will see.

lauren

Classy lady…eloquent response to haters and pointless chatter from non doers.

ALM

Zoe gave a great response, although the inaccuracies that have been included in the script do not serve to "honor" Ms. Simone's legacy. Making up instances in the name of "art" only serves to dishonor this icon.

star

Maybe Adepero Oduye, Viola Davis, Tichina Arnold, or even India Arie could play Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge, Nina Mae McKinney. After all it's about the love not beauty right? I think if Nina were here…who would she actually cast as herself given her beliefs, experiences, and legacy!!!! You need an actress but you need the RIGHT actress. If Zoe has to blacken her face, put on an AFRICAN nose, and unidentify with being black in real life interviews……hmmmm. I think it's about picking the BEST actress for the role to carrie out that persona. Would Nina blacken her skin? Were these other actresses auditioned or met with. Here – the casting choice is not about craft as much as it's about making a statement towards race, color, beauty, and the perception of black women – the antithesis of Nina's memory and legacy PERIOD!!!!! I'm done.

Kimberly

So in other words…all of the uninformed and people who haven't given the movie a chance can kick rocks! Very classy response and thoughtful perspective from Ms. Saldana.

Born

Interesting…."A Black women……..A Latino women" -Zoe Saldana………There are Latinos of color who will not like that comment. Many feel, though they are of the African's dropped off in Spanish Speaking countries of the world during slavery,……..they do not want to be associated with black people, Africans……..I pray Zoe can pull this off. If not……….someone else needs to step up to the plate and do a movie on The late great Nina Simone. SIDENOTE: I see duality in race CAN be used when convenient. I've NEVER seen Zoe Saldana describe herself as a Black Woman and a Latino ever. I saw a documentary about a female prison in the Dominican Republic. I distinctly remember a Spanish speaking, light skin young woman with Nappy permed hair….saying she hated blacks, with other derogatory words…..the filmmaker asked her did she know she was considered blacks as well………the young woman became perturbed and stated, "I'm WHITE!" as she sat on her jail bed. We have to really think about the Jacob's ladder of Africans that have been meshed, dissected and reprogrammed. What I just stated is not only exclusive to Latinos of color…………..Blacks in America suffer the same sickness..which is a separation from self via color of skin. Zoe is really not the problem with being cast as an African American who means so much to so many in the world of music and the fight for injustice. I've met Nina Simone's daughter and Granddaughter. My boyfriend's Dad played with Nina's band for many years. I've so many wonderful stories about Nina Simone. I say it again, I pray the movie does Nina Simone justice. But, if the movie doesn't, I pray someone pics up the flag and does another movie. We have so many great actors/actresses and singers who have gotten no remembrance in the world of film. Pearl Bailey should have had a film done about her life a LOOONNNNGGG time ago. I could go on but I digress.

Dankwa Brooks

Gee freekin whiz. It's a movie. It's one interpretation. Zoe is a NAME which is needed to get a film a fair shake at the marketplace. Access to the Simone estate can't be deal breaker either. Some of these celebrity estates frown on anything that might cast the celebrity in a negative light in any way. It's one movie. I hope it's good. If not, it's one movie.

Eric

This casting is entirely too far off base for me. I like Zoe's response. I get a real sense that she feels the spirit of Nina Simone and I empathize with her due to the criticism she's received. It doesn't change my original position however, but I do hope the film is up to par. I just won't be seeing it. Ultimately if it gets more people in tune with Nina Simone, that's GREAT!

Born

Interesting….A Black women……..A Latino women……….there are Latinos of color who will not like that comment. Many feel, though they are of the African's dropped off in Spanish Speaking countries of the world during slavery……..they do not want to be associated with black people……..I pray Zoe can pull this off. If not……….someone else needs to step up to the plate and do a movie on The late great Nina Simone. SIDENOTE: I see duality in race CAN be used when convenient. I've NEVER describe herself as a Black Woman and a Latino ever. but I saw a documentary about a female prison in the Dominican Republic. I distinctly remember a Spanish speaking light skin young woman with Nappy permed hair….saying she hated blacks, with other derogatory words…..the filmmaker asked her did she know she was considered blacks as well………the young woman became perturbed and stated, "I'm WHITE!" as she sat on her jail bed. We have to really think about the Jacob's ladder of Africans that have been meshed, dissected and reprogrammed. What I just stated is not only exclusive to Latinos of color…………..Blacks in America suffer the same sickness..which is a separation from self via color of skin. Zoe is really not the problem with being cast as an African American who means so much to so many in the world of music and the fight for injustice. I've met Nina Simone's daughter and Granddaughter. My boyfriend's Dad played with Nina's band for many years. I've so many wonderful stories about Nina Simone. I say it again, I pray the movie does her justice. But if it doesn't I pray someone pics up the flag and does another movie. We have so many great actors and singers who have gotten no remembrance in the world of film. Pearl Bailey should have had a film done about her life a LOOONNNNGGG time ago. I could go on but I digress.

me

two words, film industry. it's business guys. why make a nina simone movie then cast a nobody. names help sell tickets and create buzz. also, no one thought jamie looked like ray charles until he transformed himself into ray charles. that's what good actors do. give that actor the chance to perform first, then feel free to critique.

August

OMG It's simple, she's an actress, let her act. save your judgment for until you actually see the movie. she actually might be good in it. sometimes internet criticism is stupid beyond reason.

DTBK

It would be hard to resist playing a person you admire but, if as she says, she’s doing it for her sisters, black women and for Nina, then wouldn’t it be best to put yourself aside and consider what that person would’ve wanted? None of us can speak for Nina now but Nina is not without representation in this world. Her family did not approve of Zoe’s casting nor did they approve of the script – they weren’t even consulted! So, then why move forward and disrespect the family of the person you say you’re doing this for and admire? Hollywood won’t change if actors don’t execute own their powers of influence. Zoe is not to blame for the quality of the film, however, she is to blame for consenting to be in it. Let’s not act like Zoe is a deer in the headlights. She’s known that the family was not involved and she’s known that the scripted is flawed. To me, it seems she’s favoring the studio and herself more than she the legacy of Nina and that speaks VOLUMES.

Syed

Is she wearing Black face? Never mind that, she is a victim of how Hollywood cast these films. We can't complain unless we start supporting films like this with Black American Dollars. The Demo's that are gonna see this is young informed white women that choose to expand their understanding of Black music and culture, and they love Zoe so let them have their movie. Too bad they will one day see footage of Nina Simone, and say who is that? Plus this whole thing shows the cultural divide between black and spanish which share the same story that started on the West coast of Africa.

C

This is sooo missing the point. When a casting is done so egregiously and erroneously, whom do you blame? You blame…*drum roll*…the CASTING DIRECTORS. The makers of the film. You don't blame the actor they chose–at least not directly. No one is doubting that an 'actor' as poised, as excellent, and as up for the challenge as Zoe, is doing the role out of "the goodness of her heart." That is NOT the point. Heck, I can play Ghandi out of "the goodness of my heart." But the point is that the casting is wrong. Period. Full stop. End of story.

Reelblack

I agree with Marie. The criticism has never been towards Zoe for feeling like she could play the part and I am hopeful she does a good job. It has been toward the filmmakers, who have been arrogant in not allowing the Nina Simone estate to have any input. Those who have been privy to the script say it is full of inaccuracies. So its really not about Ms. Saldana's "Truth". Its the fact that success or not, a lot of people will be looking at this film as the truth, which is fundamentally wrong. With that in mind, Reelblack will be hosting a night of rare clips called THE REAL NINA SIMONE on Friday March 15 in Philadelphia. If you're in town, please stop on thru.

Marie

I think Saldana's response was excellent. It's a shame she has to defend plying her craft. I much prefer her being cast (a genuine actress) over Mary J. Blige (not an actress.) Having said that, like many others, I would've preferred casting a woman who possesses Simone's African features and skin color since her specific looks most likely had profound influences on her life and how she was accepted and treated. Hollywood casting decisions, however, are often based on if the white people in charge think that individual is pretty. Saldana was hired because she's considered pretty whereas Adepero Oduye is probably not considered pretty although she physically better resembles Simone. The criticism against Saldana's casting should be directed at the makers of the film, not Saldana herself. She's a talented actress and I'm confident she'll give an excellent performance.

Akimbo

Lovely response from her. We'll see what happens.

Mark

I wonder if Kerry Washington would have received the same criticism given that both have the same skin tone but Zoe is Latina.

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