And we thought the casting in Lifetime’s Aaliyah biopic was bad…


You may or may not have heard of the recent controversy surrounding actress Zoe Saldana portraying late Singer and Civil Rights Activist, Nina Simone in the upcoming biopic Nina. Production of this project has been troubled from day one. Back in 2010, during the film’s initial conception, it was reported that R&B Songstress Mary J. Blige was originally set to play the role of Simone but later dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. Salanda was then casted as the leading role and the film has been riddled with criticism ever since.


Many disapproved of this casting choice being that Saldana is a lighter skin tone than Simone and it was rumored that she would be wearing make up to look more like the iconic star. Doesn’t sound too bad right?


Well, if you’re a little confused as to why there is so much flack around the forthcoming feature film, take a look a the newly released trailer for the film and the answer should be very apparent.




Yes, that is Zoe Saldana. The actress dawns a nearly unrecognizable look in prosthetics and, what some are calling, black face (form of exaggerated dark make-up typically used in 19th century minstrel shows as a form of entertainment) . Now I know what you’re thinking. Black face?! Yes, black face. Although Saldana is Dominican and Puerto Rican, she does self-identify as a black woman, having both African and Hispanic roots and being of Haitian descent.


And yes you can still do black face if you are black, they were called black minstrels and it’s just as bad.


After the trailer was released, Saldana and the movie’s producers faced verbal attacks from fans everywhere who were outraged and offended. Which spawned the following tweet from Saldana:




To which Nina Simone’s estate responded with:






Ms. Simone’s camp is definitely not happy and they are not the only ones. Soul singer India Arie, who portrayed Simone in a 2003 episode of the NBC show American Dreams,  had much to say in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter after viewing a private screening of the film in its early stages back in 2013.


The ‘Ready For Love’ songstress had this to say about the film:


“It made me sad. The way she looked in the movie was ugly. Whether or not Nina Simone was beautiful in your eyes, I thought she was beautiful. But in this movie, she just looked weird. Her skin looked weird, and her nose looked weird. It made me wonder, was that how the filmmakers see her? Did they not think she was beautiful? Were they like, “Yeah, we got it! That’s how she looked.” […] they casted [Saldana] against type and went too far to make her fit”


Arie makes a great point. Were there not enough beautiful darker-skinned actresses with naturally fuller cheeks and nose or did they just want a big name to attach to the film?


Despite Simone’s Estate’s harsh reaction, Lisa Simone Kelly, Nina Simone’s daughter, says blame shouldn’t be placed on Saldana for the poor execution of the film. Nina will be in theaters April 22nd, 2016.



What are your thoughts on the newest biopic? Will you be going to see Nina?

Let us know in the comments below!




Written by Mack

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