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Zoe Saldana Finally Admits She Wasn’t a Good Choice for the Role of Nina Simone

Avatar • Jun 14, 2015
Jezebel.com

Jezebel.com

Well, she sorta admitted it. In a quote from an upcoming feature in InStyle Magazine, the gorgeous 36-year-old actress affirmed what many have been saying for years…

I didn’t think I was right for the part, and I know a lot of people will agree…”

But she goes on to explain why she took the role regardless;

…but then again, I don’t think Elizabeth Taylor was right for Cleopatra either. An artist is colorless, genderless… It’s more complex than just ‘Oh, you chose the Halle Berry look-alike to play a dark, strikingly beautiful, iconic black woman.’ The truth is, they chose an artist who was willing to sacrifice herself. We needed to tell her story because she deserves it.”

Well, sacrifice herself she has, because Saldana has faced a steady stream of criticism since she was cast in the film way back in 2012. And these picture of Zoe presumably in ‘darkface’ for the role really didn’t help things…

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#Yikes

On top of that the film has faced lawsuits, but is finally set to be released before the end of 2015.

Many people with objections don’t blame Saldana, but the casting directors who chose her when there are so many highly talented actresses who look similar to Simone and could have killed the role, particularly India Arie, Viola Davis and Adepero Oduye.

Viola Davis

Viola Davis

Adepero Oduye

Adepero Oduye

India Arie

India Arie

But who’s to know… maybe she was simply the best actress for the part.

As far as Saldana, she’s singing a very different tune than she was back in 2013 when she doubled down against the critics;

…I’m doing it for my sisters and my brothers, and I don’t care who tells me I’m not this or I’m not that. I know who I am, and I know what Nina Simone means to me… I did it all out of love for my people and my pride of being a black woman and a Latina woman and an American woman and that’s my truth.”

Ladies, what are your thoughts on all this?

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dmalikat
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dmalikat

Why are we attackng the artist who took the gig she was offered. Seems like we are fighting each other. We should attack the industry for not giving opportunities to the other women of color. If you were offered an amazing position or an opportunity to earn a great salary, but ppl in your office thought a man deserved that position — should you not take it? I see both sides of the coin — just think ppl might be targeting thier frustrations to the wrong person. What happened to Angela Bassett she would knock this out the park, but… Read more »

Alison
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Alison

The only difference with Elizabeth Taylor playing Celopatra is that she didn’t do black/face or “darken up” for the role — the movie portrayed Cleopatra as a white woman … I really don’t understand this woman and how she believed she could depict Nina Simone — many of the actresses/singers who were offered the role declined because they felt they could not do Nina Simone justice. I don’t think she was the best actress — I think she was just brave/brazen enough to accept the role. That’s just my thought on the matter — oh well.

Ajah
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Ajah

I think Cleopatra being a white woman was just as bad if not worst than doing black face. Cleopatra wasn’t even close to the real woman. I guess they didn’t have the money back then, but they could have found an actress from Egypt to portray Cleopatra. Zoe has a dark shade to her they just have to darken her which they didn’t do that great of a job of. It’s not like they took a Lisa Bonnet colored woman and then colored her skin. I’m gonna support her. it’s a woman of color telling another woman of color’s story.… Read more »

Corelle Perry
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Corelle Perry

This is Hollywood. They look over the more talented and qualified actors/actresses like Viola Davis, and hire the ones that are more palatable and acceptable to ‘the masses’ , the ones that do not make waves…

Ajah
Guest
Ajah

I would have preferred a no namer. That could have been their breakout role.

Milos Mom
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Milos Mom

FINALLY, she owns up to the BS.… FINALLY!!!!!! Here is the thing, I blame the casting directors AND the actors who perpetrate this $hit. Both parties are saying “It is OK to do this.” So situation left a bad taste in my mouth along with Exodus and the more recent issue with Emma Stone and her super Caucasian blond self playing a mixed race woman in Aloha. all parties are to blame for this. No one is innocent. In addition, the bigger problem I had with Zoe is she was not talking about “my sisters” etc. until the $hit hit… Read more »

Return the Stone
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Return the Stone

i never watched Aloha but i heard about the news on Wilmore Nightly show and i was “How the hell she gonna get away with that?” Other than that it seems like people always want to use Saldana even Aaliyah’s family wanted her to play Aaliyah and they dont exactly look similar

Ajah
Guest
Ajah

The girl they had was not good as Aaliyah. I tried to watch the movie, but I only lasted 30 min. into it before I changed the channel.

Ajah
Guest
Ajah

Really Emma Stone is supposed to be mixed raced?! I haven’t seen the movie, but they didn’t even try to portray mixed race. I’ve only seen the trailer. Every actor and actress is an opportunist. If they say can you ride a motorcycle you say, “yeah.” You want to work, so you take roles that you are offered unless you are busy or unless the part is not worth your time or too intimidating. That’s ok if she doesn’t get your pennies she’ll have Multi-millions of other people’s pennies.

R Says
Guest
R Says

Genderless? So she’d be cool with Vin Diesel playing Cleo…Um…No ma’am.
Try again!

Ajah
Guest
Ajah

You know what? Real talk, I would pay to see him try. Lol It would be Horrible, but I would watch that sinking ship.

As
Guest
As

I don’t understand why you all have a problem with this. Is this a darker shade/lighter shade complexion thing? Why are half the topics on this website about such futilities? I mean, none of you have seen her performance yet. Who are you to decide that she is not the right choice for the role? It seems to me that you only judge her by her appareance ; which is not relevant when make up and costumes exist and are so common in movie making. The examples of great movies with actors that transformed themselves (physically, mentally, using make up,… Read more »

T
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T

I agree with some of your points but there is not main flaw in your argument that bothers and I hope to shed light on something that you will go on too look further into. Europeans introduced racism into this county. the shade divide among African Americans that you speak of is call white supremacy and I was invented and employed by the colonialist on the indigenous people of the of the land as well as the African slaves they brought over packed on a ship like sardines. The history of Black people in this country started from a very… Read more »

Guest
Guest
Guest

I was with you until the last couple of paragraphs. You are clueless.

SoleilKiss
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SoleilKiss

I agree completely as a Caribbean-American. Why does it always come back to this attitude of ‘blacker than thou’?? Blacks need to stand with a more united front, embracing all hues, rather than picking off those who don’t pass our revised brown-bag test. It’s so silly. All this reveals is an underlying insecurity planted during slavery. This mentality is futile and divisive. This is the very embodiment of the other side of colorism.

mlank64
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mlank64

:“It seems to me that you only judge her by her appareance ; which is not relevant when make up and costumes exist and are so common in movie making” It is relevant. Ms. Simones life and struggles are defined in her struggle to be seen and taken seriously as a dark skinned black woman. To have a light skinned non-black woman portray her life story is a slap in the face. The fact is Hollywood has a history of erasing dark skinned black woman from existence or a least as romantic leads in any major movie. I see this… Read more »

Asphedal
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Asphedal

What most Americans don’t understand is Hispanic is not a race. It is an Ethinic background comprised of multiple races. You have black, white, Asian (native American and Indian) hispanics. So out of those where would you place Zoe? She is in fact a black woman. She may have other mixes in her like most Latino people, but the girl is black. I know she would kill me for saying that, because most Latinos [that i know] deny their African heritage. So in conclusion, Zoe is not a light-skinned non-black woman. She is in fact a light skinned black woman.… Read more »

tinabobina
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tinabobina

” I know she would kill me for saying that, because most Latinos [that i know] deny their African heritage.”

Maybe most would, but I doubt Zoe would. I’m pretty sure she is quoted as telling a Dominican news source that she is indeed a black woman.

Ajah
Guest
Ajah

Lol she wouldn’t kill you she has said many times in interviews that she is a Black Woman.

Ajah
Guest
Ajah

I totally agree with you.Not all Americans think that only shades should play proper shaded characters (don’t mix us all up in the same bigot bag). I love acting because you are someone else. If you are always being typed cast then there will be a good portion of your career where you may not work. I don’t care who plays the role as long as it’s believable and they are good at it. Our race is not the only race that makes changes to who should play certain roles. I feel that since we are putting so much negativity… Read more »

Annette
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Annette

Will still boycott the movie!
I paid for Selma, I paid for the very mediocre Dear White People, I pay for Spike Lea’s movies,I won’t pay for a black face movie

SheridaDaily
Guest

I stopped supporting Zoe Saldana YEARS upon years ago. What a mockery to Nina Simone’s legacy. Someone has already mentioned this but, Zoe is just as much at fault for taking the role as the people that offered her it (all of you are going down in that sinking ship). It’s kinda like when Halle Berry was rumoured to have been offered the role to play Aretha Franklin and she politely declined. THAT is class — get you some Zoe. And for those that don’t see the problem with this issue, please do some research into Ms. Simone and why… Read more »

mlank64
Guest
mlank64

Totally agree!

LusciousDC
Guest
LusciousDC

Aren’t the other two women mentioned besides Viola Davis singers? How do we know they can act? There have been actors and actresses casted in all types of roles we don’t agree with, so why the big hub-bub about this time?

SoleilKiss
Guest
SoleilKiss

Seriously.. It’s silly and divisive banter.

rachybaby
Guest
rachybaby

Why the big hub-bub? Because “they” don’t want a light skinned person to play a dark skinned person. It’s literally that skin (color) deep.

Intra-racism, I think they call it.… Dr. MLK Jr. would be soooo proud.…

ehansom
Guest

Only India is the singer.

Ajah
Guest
Ajah

I wonder if they even thought about a No Namer that had good acting chops to do the role? That role could have brought someone new into the “stardom light” everyone actor/actress needs a breakout role.

David Hutchinson
Guest
David Hutchinson

WTF??? You pick an actress who at least looks like the real person being portrayed. I could go with India Arie especially when she was beat out by Alicia Keys for a Grammy. I felt it was Dark skin against Light skin. I felt india should have won and this role might have been some sort of vindication.

rachybaby
Guest
rachybaby

And I’m sure you felt as strongly about “looking the part” when Denzel Washington played Malcolm X?

Cosita
Guest
Cosita

True.

Ajah
Guest
Ajah

They did that with Aaliyah and the girl was horrible! Maybe the darker toned well known actresses were either busy or felt that they couldn’t do the part justice. It’s sad that we are poo-pooing an actress that wants to stretch herself and come out of what society is telling her that she can only play.

Cheri
Guest
Cheri

Is that what she’s going to look like in the movie? That is a terrible make-up job.

Gloria
Guest
Gloria

She was probably chosen for her star power. The casting directors hoped that Saldana would bring more people to the movie. I hope this doesn’t affect her career negatively.

Ajah
Guest
Ajah

I don’t think it will.

mlank64
Guest
mlank64

Adepero Oduye is the spitting image of Nina Simone…almost reincarnation of her.

rachybaby
Guest
rachybaby

Here here! And I’m sure you felt Denzel Washington shouldn’t have gotten the part of Malcolm X, right?

David Hutchinson
Guest
David Hutchinson

Malcolm never looked so good!!! “No Man should have that much power…”

Elodie Careme
Guest
Elodie Careme

I am myself a proud Caribbean. In an utopic world this light skin/dark skin complexion or white/black, male/female would not matter. In the real world it does. Nina Simone was an extremely gifted and talented singer. She was also a dark skin woman she suffered from racism/colorism outside the community and inside the community and this was important in her storylife because she stood up for that. Nina Simone for dark skin women like her get the place and récognition they deserve in the community and in the society generally speaking. You may be blind but if you look at… Read more »

David Hutchinson
Guest
David Hutchinson

Malcolm was somewhat handsome. Nina Simone was a train wreck looking woman but her talent carried her through. Zoe makes Nina Simone look like a light skinned Barbie Doll whereas India Airie is darker and has strong features and even though she is prettier than Nina Simone she would be more believable as demonstrated in her epic battle against Barbie Doll Alicia Keys.

Ajah
Guest
Ajah

Glad to see that the beauty is only on the outside. I guess Simone didn’t have anythig beautiful about her Spirit or whatever. Oh Well.

David Hutchinson
Guest
David Hutchinson

Zoe should have done it inn Black Face and worked the hell out of the part. Nina Simone had strong features that made her music the way it was composed and performed. She sometimes was artistically indifferent during a performance. She was viewed as an exotic.….

David Hutchinson
Guest
David Hutchinson

Zoe is a light skinned souless Black Barbie Doll in this part. Bad Casting.

Amie
Guest
Amie

I think some people here are being extremely delusional, if you expect all actresses to turn down roles they’re passionate about, simply because of skin color. Whether or not you agree with the implications of what you think is a “poor fit,” you need to criticize the system at large, not the women of color who are fighting for the few positions for women of color in the industry to begin with. But if we are going to criticize the black actresses, what about the actresses who allegedly turned down the part? Do they not bear some responsibility as well,… Read more »

Okay
Guest
Okay

Reality is what they call it. According to Nina Simone’s daughter the person she wanted playing her was Whoopie Goldberg. Nina Simone suffered greatly because of colorism and it affected her music as well. Should we leave out that part of her life in an autobiographical movie about her in the name of black unity? Its intra-racism if you want someone who can realistically portray a person who could suffer from colorism to play the part?

Nilotes Love
Guest
Nilotes Love

She’s a sheep what do you expect

Milos Mom
Guest
Milos Mom

Just wanted to post this link regarding the documentary that Nina Simone’s daughter approves : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/29/what-happened-miss-simone-lisa-simone-kelly-interview_n_7688416.html?ncid=newsltushpmg00000003 — This is the production that I will be supporting.

Lauric
Guest
Lauric

Viola Davis would have played the hell out of Nina Simone. India Arie can sing (I love her first two albums) and Adepero Oduye looks the most like her, but I’ve seen Viola in action with “How To Get Away With Murder”.

merdila
Guest
merdila

in other words, water is wet

Ajah
Guest
Ajah

Well I think that Zoe will do fine with the role clearly the director saw something in her. Viola would have been great, but what if she couldn’t stick to the schedule. I mean look at what happened when every got mad over Zandaya playing Alliyah. We got a girl that couldn’t act. As an actress if you want to continue working you will have to challenge yourself that means putting yourself outside what society will only accept you as. Acting is becoming someone you are not, so if you have to dawn some different skin tone or wear your… Read more »

Gmcchris
Guest
Gmcchris

To the people who want to point out the Aaliyah biopic as evidence that sometimes we need actresses who don’t look the part, Zendaya turned down the role because she found out that Aaliyah’s family was against the documentary, not because of people saying she was too light for the role. Furthermore the problem is that Hollywood always wants to put lighter women because they view them as more valuable and beautiful and if we don’t stand out against this, then we perpetuate a world where we allow people to tell our darker daughters and sisters that they are less… Read more »

King Solomon
Guest
King Solomon

Disguising!

Emmeaki
Guest
Emmeaki

Were the casting directors effing idiots? (Rhetorical question!) Casting Zoe did the complete opposite. How many people refused to see the movie because of this bad casting choice? I’d rather see a believable, no name actress play the part over a star who who is completely out of place.

Emmeaki
Guest
Emmeaki

It’s not “ïntra-racism”. Why in the hell would hire a actress who looked nothing like the person portrayed and paint them dark instead of hiring an actress with dark skin? Do you think people would accept a dark-skinned actress who was painted light to play Beyonce in a movie?

Joy Villa
Guest
Joy Villa

No, Zoe, you failed.

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