Is Zoe Saldana Guilty Of Blackface In 'Nina'?

| by Zara Zhi
Nina Simone (right) and Zoe Saldana (left)Nina Simone (right) and Zoe Saldana (left)

Actress Zoe Saldana is being criticized for wearing “blackface” in a new biopic film where she plays famed singer, Nina Simone.

Some are upset that the naturally light-skinned Afro-Latina actress wears a prosthetic nose and darker skin in the movie, according to Page Six.

On March 2, Saldana quoted the late singer on Twitter, writing: “I’ll tell you what freedom is to me -- Not fear… I mean really, no fear.”

Simone’s family was unhappy and one member shot back on the late singer’s official account, saing, “Cool story but please take Nina’s name out of your mouth. For the rest of your life.”

The account is called the “Official Twitter for the Estate & Legacy of Dr. Nina Simone #ninasimone Pianist, singer, songwriter, activist, icon, mother. Doctor of Music and Humanities” and later tweeted, “Hopefully people begin to understand this is painful. Gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, nauseating, soul-crushing. It shall pass, but for now…”

Fans of Simone's work condemned Hollywood for casting Saldana as the legendary civil rights activist and singer instead of an actress with less “Caucasian” features back in 2012, according to Daily Mail.

The biopic, which co-stars David Oyelowo, tells the story of Simone as she tries to make a comeback in the music business.

The film, directed by Cynthia Mort, is scheduled for release in April after years of delays. But things aren’t looking good for the movie after the trailer came under fire in the black community.

Anthea Butler tweeted: “That Zoe Saldana pic as Nina Simone looks like the blackface of a bad Halloween of frat party.”

Author Erica Jerome Dickey said: “I'm a huge Nina Simone fan. So this matters. Nina battled racism/colorism to have her complexion painted on a face of a lighter hue. Damn.”

Last year, Saldana self-confessed in an interview with InStyle magazine that she might be the wrong actress for the part. 

“I didn’t think I was right for the part, and I know a lot of people will agree, but then again, I don’t think Elizabeth Taylor was right for Cleopatra either,” she said. 

In 2013 Nina Simone's daughter, Simone Kelly, voiced her disapproval in The New York Times.

“My mother was raised at a time when she was told her nose was too wide, her skin was too dark. Appearance-wise, this is not the best choice.”

“Nina” hits theaters April 22.

Sources: Page Six, Daily Mail, The New York Times / Photo credit: RLJ Entertainment and ITV/REX/Shutterstock via Daily Mail

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