Zoe Saldana On Nina Simone Biopic Controversy: “There’s No One Way To Be Black”
Zoe Saldana is clapping back at criticism of her portrayal of Nina Simone in the biopic, Nina.
The film details the jazz legend and civil rights activist’s life in the years before she died, and focuses on her relationship with her assistant, Clifton Henderson (played by David Oyelowo).
The decision to cast Zoe, who’s Dominican and Puerto Rican, attracted backlash immediately after it was announced. Her skin, which is lighter than Nina’s, had to be darkened in order for her to star in the film. Many argue that the role should’ve went to an actress with dark skin and more ethnic features, as Simone wrote songs about being proud of her nappy hair, full lips and big nose.
“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,” Zoe recently told Allure magazine about the criticism that she wasn’t “black enough” for the role. “I’m raising black men. Don’t you ever think you can look at me and address me with such disdain.”
“I never saw her as unattractive. Nina looks like half my family! But if you think the [prosthetic] nose I wore was unattractive,” Saldana said about that decision, “then maybe you need to ask yourself, ‘What do you consider beautiful? Do you consider a thinner nose beautiful, so the wider you get, the more insulted you become?’”