I’m sure that many of you have heard about the controversy over Zoe Saldana playing Nina Simone in the upcoming film “Nina.” The film has generated sparks within the black community due to the mismatching of features between Nina and Zoe. Nina’s daughter has publicly denounced the movie and refuses to take any part of the movie.
In the movie, Zoe is covered in a drastically darker makeup in order to “match” the skin tone of Nina, however, it seems that she comes out much darker than Nina. Zoe is also wearing a prosthetic nose, which seems to be at the heart of this controversy.
Much of what made Nina, Nina were her physical features. She was told that her nose was too large on numerous occasions. The distaste for her body by others was a prime motivator for Nina and is the basis for much of her music and her career.
So not only is the basis of the main character of the movie altered, but two other issues arise from this: black face and the diversity of black actresses.
Many black women argued against Zoe playing this part, not because she is “technically” not an African American, but because the casting directors for the film didn’t seem to reach out into the community to look for actresses that could more closely resemble Nina. Many women feel that it is a limitation that is being placed on the black community of actresses.
Another prominent issue with this casting is whether or not it constitutes as “black face?” Black face is “the makeup used by a non-black performer playing a black role.” Technically speaking, this fits the description to a ‘T,’ but the question is do we let it slide because Zoe identifies herself as black? In which case, do we then need to also let it slide for people such as Rachel Dolezal? The black community gave her just as much grief and she actually tanned her skin, she wasn’t wearing make up that could be washed off.
Zoe’s response to the controversy: “I know who I am, and I know what Nina Simone means to me. That is my truth, and that sets me free.”
I personally feel that the casting directors should have spent a longer time searching for someone that could exemplify Nina’s features without the use of makeup or prosthetics. There are many dark skin toned women that could have potentially filled this role. I believe that Zoe should have declined the wrong simply because she does not look like Nina Simone and sometimes, its not so much about how well you can act, but also being able to look the part. I think that there are so many other ways to pay homage to Nina and other things such as these issues should have been taken under more consideration than they were.
So give me the tea, what’s your opinion?