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Zoë Saldana Slams Nina Simone Casting Critics: ‘There’s No One Way to Be Black’

The film — and her performance — elicited widespread controversy.

Among the many controversial casting decisions this year, Zoë Saldana’s performance as Nina Simone in “Nina” may have elicited the harshest reaction.  The actress wore a prosthetic nose and dark makeup to portray the singer, drawing criticism from many — including members of Simone’s family. Saldana has responded to the controversy in an Allure cover story, saying that “there’s no one way to be black. 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.”

READ MORE: The ‘Nina’ Controversy Shows Exactly Why Hollywood Needs More Diverse Voices

She also stated that the role’s importance extended beyond her performance for the way it brought Simone back to attention. “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.’”

READ MORE: Zoe Saldana in ‘Nina’: More Than Skin-Deep Problems (Review)

“Nina” was released in April to poor reviews, with much of the criticism centering around Saldana’s casting. Still, the actress considers it a victory of sorts: “The fact that we’re talking about her, that Nina Simone is trending? We f—ing won,” Saldana added. “For so many years, nobody knew who the f— she was. She is essential to our American history. As a woman first, and only then as everything else.”

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