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Zoe Saldana: Too Light-Skinned to Play Nina Simone?

Nina Simone

Directors of the upcoming biopic of Black jazz singer Nina Simone created a stir in the Black online community when they cast biracial actress Zoe Saldana. There are people who are offended about this choice.

While some would argue that “Black is Black,” many more are raising a protest against “whitewashing,” a frequent Hollywood tactic to appeal a higher-paying white moviegoer demographic.

Watch the clip below.

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7 Comments

  • Frank H Staley

    Nothing against Zoe Saldana but actresses Nikki Micheaux or Viola Davis would be great choices if they’re looking for a talented actress whose looks resemble Nina Simone’s . . .

  • Am I the only one who notices that Zoe is the same complexion as Mary J? I feel like Afro-Latinos get no love… When Zoe was cast in Colombiana they said she is too dark to do that role.. now she is too light to do this one? give me a break!

  • Although race is sometimes described as a social construct rather than a purely biological one, visible racial characteristics do infact shape an individual’s experiences and social interactions. This is definitely true for people of African heritage. “Degrees of blackness” or the number of visible African racial characteristics an individual has often shape their experiences. Many of Nina’s experiences were directly linked to her complexion and facial features. Someone lighter skinned with more aquline features would not have the same set of experiences.
    Also, it is not only some members of the black online community that object. Her daughter has publically protested as well. (See her daughter’s facebook page)

  • Beaver Creek Drive

    Beautiful woman — but, should not be playing the High Priestess who was very Afrocentric and looked like her ancestors!

    This woman is too NON-Afro looking to play the role of Nina Simone! Nothing against her — just a gross misplacement of role play!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I agree with Mr. Staley. I like Ms. Saldana as an actress, but for both realism and being true to Ms. Simone, someone who resembled her in ALL of her features would have been a better fit. It does no justice to Ms. Simone’s legacy that she is represented by someone who looks nothing like her. Viola Davis would have been an excellent choice.

  • I grew up loving Nina, her Afro-Centric music and personal values. She created a keen ethnocentric sense and value among Blacks who purchased her records and went to her concerts. I’m not convinced that having a like or similar complexion should suggest who performs Nina’s role. However, I definitely believe that the main character should have faced similar life experiences (complexion being one) to fully relate to a black or white audience in Nina’s instance. Halle Berry’s looks and complexion made her a very good fit in “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” because her life was beset by some of the same challenges that Dorothy faced. Nina was a singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist widely associated with jazz music. I think that Zoe Saldana is a very fine emerging talent, but I don’t believe she brings all that’s expected of the one who portrays Princess Nina!

  • blunt talker

    The people involved with this biopic have shown disrespect to Nina’s family and fans. Nina’s brother is planning a news conference to protest his displeasure with this casting choice. Nina’s daughter and Nina’s brother have said the story of this biopic is not true and tried to contact the people involved in this project. They got no response. Cynthia Mort stated she was told not to talk to Nina’s family at all. Something about this movie smells rotten. I hope Ms. Saldana know that her personal integrity is a question mark for being involved with a project that disrequards Nina’s love ones.

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