Zoe Saldana Responds to the Nina Simone Backlash Over her Blackness


Since Zoe Saldana was cast as jazz legend Nina Simone in the biopic Nina, the actress has faced backlash from fans, critics, and Simone’s estate. In a new interview with Allure magazine, she discussed the controversy in-depth, saying, “There’s no one way to be black.” 

“I’m black the way I know how to be,” she continued. “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.”

Addressing criticism that she’s too “pretty” to play Simone, Saldana remarked, “I never saw her as unattractive. Nina looks like half my family! 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?”

Despite the backlash, Saldana explained she’s happy people are at least talking about Nina. “The script probably would still be lying around, going from office to office, agency to agency, and nobody would have done it. Female stories aren’t relevant enough, especially a black female story,” she said. “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.”

She added, “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.”


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Source: Entertainment Weekly | Nick Romano