Much Ado About Zoe Saldana’s Portrayal Of Nina Simone

Much Ado About Zoe Saldana’s Portrayal Of Nina Simone

This story has been trending since 2012 when it became news that Colombiana star, Zoe Saldana had been cast in the biopic of African American singer and activist, Nina Simone. The furor died down for a bit then and was resurrected recently when the trailer and official poster of the movie, Nina, were released. The backlash from the public has been fast and furious, and Saldana has been catching most of the flack.

Nina Simone’s family is reportedly not upset with Saldana over her portrayal of Simone in the upcoming biopic. This Simone’s daughter revealed in a recent interview.

Lisa Simone Kelly, the singer’s only child, talked to Time about the recent tweet slamming Saldana that was sent out from the verified Twitter account representing her mother’s estate.tweet3

Kelly said she was unaware of the tweet. Simone’s family said they hired a family friend to manage the official website and Facebook page years ago, but when Time contacted the friend, Aaron Overfield, he did not return requests for comment.

“It’s unfortunate that Zoe Saldana is being attacked so viciously when she is someone who is part of a larger picture,” said Kelly. “It’s clear she brought her best to this project, but unfortunately she’s being attacked when she’s not responsible for any of the writing or the lies.”

Simone’s family members have been clear about their disapproval of the controversial Ninabiopic, which they say falsely depicts the relationship between Simone and her manager, Clifton Henderson, played by David Oyelowo.

“The movie is about a relationship between my mother and Clifton, which never took place. They never had an amorous relationship,” said Kelly, adding that Henderson is gay. “The project has been tainted from the very beginning. Clearly, it is not the truth about my mother’s life, and everyone now knows that. This is not how you want your loved ones remembered.”

Kelly said that after watching the trailer for the film, which premieres on April 22, she “really didn’t feel much of anything except for, ‘poor Zoe.’ “

Saldana has been criticized for having paler skin than Simone — the actress wore a prosthetic nose and dark makeup for her role in the film. Kelly told Time her family is “not upset with Zoe,” but they don’t think she was the right choice, appearance-wise.

“There are many superb actresses of color who could more adequately represent my mother and could bring her to the screen with the proper script, the proper team and a sense of wanting to bring the truth of my mother’s journey to the masses,” said Kelly. “And Nina, in my opinion, doesn’t do any of that.”

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16 Comments

  1. Mr. Fingers
    March 09, 07:56 Reply

    whitney houston,left eye,aaliyah and the list goes on. Fans will always ve something to complain abt biopics of their favourite stars. If u dont like this one wait for the next nina simone movie.

  2. Mandy
    March 09, 08:25 Reply

    The people involved with this production though… How did they see the svelte, slender, caramel-skinned, sleek-haired Zoe Saldana, and say ‘Yep, that’s our Nina.’

    • Colossus
      March 09, 08:41 Reply

      How did they see Christian bale and say, ‘Yep, that’s our batman’.
      Let’s get over this, like Mr. Fingers said, if you don’t like this one then wait for the next Nina Simone movie.

      • Pink Panther
        March 09, 08:50 Reply

        Wait a minute. Colossus, are u on the ‘it doesn’t matter’ train too?

        • Mr. Fingers
          March 09, 08:59 Reply

          Zoe might end up portraying the character very well but most peeps wont see it becos of her skin tone.come on. Dont judge a book by its cover.

        • Colossus
          March 09, 15:50 Reply

          Yes I am. I know bad casting when I see one and this is in no way bad casting. We are already judging a performance based on skin tone. Are we not seeing how absurd that is? We are not asking is Zoe is a particularly good actress with enough acting range, what we are rather focused on is whether she is the right shade of black.
          White woman playing a black role and I might see the outrage but I’m sorry, I’m not seeing why we should have a penis tied up in a bun when a black actress portrays a black character on screen.

          • Pink Panther
            March 09, 15:55 Reply

            Bless you! 😀 Why you no talk since na. And I’ve been taking a beating for it on Facebook for supporting Zoe.

            • Colossus
              March 09, 16:04 Reply

              You didn’t invite me to your battles. I would have come defend you till the end. People have judged the casting of a lot of their favourite icons, from Heath Ledger playing Joker to Robert Downey Jr playing iron man. At the end, they are the same ones screaming that nobody can play that part better than those actors.

        • Colossus
          March 09, 16:01 Reply

          Queen latifah had this to say, “I think Zoe Saldana is a great actress, so I am looking forward to it, She is of African descent – I don’t see why she shouldn’t play the role. I just want to see it. Get rid of the hype and let’s go watch a movie.”

          Paula Patton also chipped In, “I’m not into negativity like that. It’s a horrible thing to put on somebody … Imagine being in her shoes and enduring that. It’s not cool, and it’s not right.

          “Clearly, someone thought she was perfect for it – she’s an amazing actress, she’s beautiful – and you haven’t even given her a chance and you haven’t seen it yet,” she added. “I think we have to be in a place where we celebrate each other and are kind to one another, and say, ‘There’s alternate versions of a story. Give her a shot, try to enjoy it and stop judging’.”

          You see, we didn’t judge the trailer on its merits. We didn’t judge Zoe’s performance in that short trailer on whether she really channelled the iconic Nina. We rather went straight for her prosthetic nose and Skin colour. If that’s how we judge performances now, then we should have judged her in Avatar. Maybe she wasn’t the right shade of blue or her tail was not the right length.

    • Mr. Fingers
      March 09, 08:53 Reply

      dont mind us. Let me just cast PP as beyonce in a destiny’s child biopic and see how the blacks will go gaga.hahaha.

  3. Delle
    March 09, 09:23 Reply

    I don’t know why a movie would come out as ‘not-good’ and it’s an actor that would be bashed for it? For goodness’ sake, they only portray what’s in the script! A script handed 2 them by some people behind-the-scene, how’s it the actor’s fault? They don’t make the film, they only aid in it’s implementation. It’s really saddening the way Zoe’s been attacked for this whole thingy.

  4. #Chestnut
    March 09, 10:30 Reply

    Er…I think Kelly’s last sentence in that write-up was supposed to be “…And ZOE,in my opinion,doesn’t do any of that” (or maybe Zoe played her mom so well that she’s now calling her ‘Nina’, lol)

    • Handle
      March 09, 14:03 Reply

      She was talking about the movie.

  5. Khaleesi
    March 09, 11:06 Reply

    tchwwwwww ***stifles yawn*** ***goes back to filing nails****

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