Zoe Saldana Talks Nina Simone Biopic Controversy, Responds to Critics

June 20, 2016

Zoe Saldana responds to the controversy over her portrayal of Nina Simone and has strong words for critics. In a cover story interview with ‘Allure’ magazine she open sup with characteristic candor and refusal to pander to politically correctness.

Zoe Saldana

Leave it to the ‘Star Trek Beyond’ actress to speak her mind and not back down. The biopic ‘Nina’ sees her portraying the 1960s music icon and civil rights activist Nina Simone and not to the delight of everyone, to say the least. She’s been widely criticized for being miscast in the role; for not having a dark enough complexion or African features.

Saldana told Allure magazine, “There’s no one way to be black.” Elaborating, she said, “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.”

Continuing, she went on to say, “The fact that we’re talking about her, that Nina Simone is trending? We f—ing won. 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.”

The controversy had been dormant for a few years until a recently released trailer (below) put social media in an uproar once again. Even the official Twitter account of the Nina Simone estate attacked Saldana after she had Tweeted a quote from the icon, Tweeting “Please take Nina’s name out your mouth. For the rest of your life.”

Yet on the other hand, Simon’s daughter Lisa Simone Kelly, while not in favor of the biopic, has defended her. She said “It’s unfortunate that Zoe Saldana is being attacked so viciously when she is someone who is part of a larger picture.”

Saldana has especially drawn flack for wearing a prosthetic nose. This has irked many as Simone was noted for her celebration of blackness. She famously pushed back against white standards of beauty. For that, along with her inimitable musical contributions, she’s widely celebrated.

Grammy winning music artist India Arie is among those critics — not of Saldana per se — but of the filmmakers. She has saying that “to make a movie about a person like that and cast an actress that has to wear blackface and a prosthetic nose is tone-deaf.”

Zoe Saldana responded to that criticism as well, saying, “I never saw her as unattractive. Nina looks like half my family!”

She added, “But if you think the [prosthetic] nose I wore was unattractive, 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?”

There’s much more to the interview — you can see it here — as Saldana takes on other topics including what it’s been like for her raising her twin sons. Zoe Saldana’s Allure photos are below.

A photo posted by Allure Magazine (@allure) on

Pictures: PR Photos

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