I think this controversy kicked up while I was on blogcation, but we spoke about at length on the WAOD Facebook Fanpage. As you may not know, actress Zoe Saldana was selected to play Nina Simone in an unauthorized biopic.
We know it was unauthorized because Nina's daughter spoke out explaining that the family had been frozen out of the project and the project centered about Nina's alleged romance with her male nurse:
“My mother was raised at a time when she was told her nose was too wide, her skin was too dark,” Ms. Kelly said in an interview. “Appearance-wise this is not the best choice,” she added, referring to Ms. Saldana.
Ms. Kelly, who described herself as a fan of Ms. Saldana’s work, said she would have preferred to see actresses like Viola Davis or Kimberly Elise. She added that her mother’s own choice to play her was Whoopi Goldberg.
Ms. Kelly also took issue with the creative license taken by Ms. Mort’s script, particularly the story line that Simone had a romantic relationship with Mr. Henderson. In the Facebook post Ms. Kelly wrote: “Clifton Henderson was gay. He was not attracted to women. So, the truth is ... Nina Simone and Clifton Henderson NEVER had a relationship other than a business one.” NY Times
Well a WAOD reader forwarded me these photos of Zoe in "prosthetics" to play Nina Simone.
It's obvious she's got on a wig- no problem- happens all the time. But she also appears to be in "Blackface." I noted that she's wearing dentures and Sade, the reader who sent the photos claims that Zoe is also wearing a prosthetic posterior. Well I put the photo up on Sunday morning and the response was overwhelmingly negative.
Rather than honor the woman you're about to try and make money off of by finding an actress who resembles her, you dress an otherwise unqualified actress up to look like she's participating in an SNL skit. Lord, help me - Kimberly
that is ridiculous smdh, so dissapointed. India Aire would have been so much better. - Renee
A black woman in black face... Hmmm... that makes EVERYTHING better. -Shane
What a low blow - Yoblack Chile
WTH? She looks like clay - Keykey
Who did her makeup / the same mofos Tyler uses on Mr Brown etc ? I've seen better make up in a high school theatre class. - Djuan
It's annoying, but she's just following a tried and true method of trying to win the Oscar, which is "uglying" up a "pretty" girl. That being said, I just dont see how she was the best choice to play Nina Simone. -Karen
Disgusted! People, we've got to make our own movies and stop consuming big Hollywood garbage. Why do we accept that we need big Hollywood to tell our stories in the first place?? We still end up consumers, not producers of our own history, and powerless, as we see in this case, to control or shape our own imagery. I will not patronize this film despite my love for Zoe. A shame. - Lisa
Not all readers agree:
Why are people so upset about Zoe playing Nina? She's an actress right? Isn't the point to transform into a different person? Zoe is a black woman as well. Shes Afro-Latina. I'm a little uncomfortable with people bashing the movie before its even done filming. I really don't get all the hate towards this woman. Is it because she isn't the best actress for the job or her perceived "otherness?" - Kia
So what say you? Did Zoe deserve an opportunity to try to pull off Nina Simone or should the director have selected an actress who more closely resembled Nina Simone in real life? Keep in mind that Nina was VERY OUTSPOKEN about how people treated her because of how she looked.
My skin is black.
My arms are long.
My hair is wooley.
My back is strong.
Four Women- Nina Simone
I reminding you that Nicole Kidman won an OSCAR wearing a fake nose and Angela Bassett has played everyone from Corretta Scott King to Betty Shabazz to Tina Turner.
P.S. Nina Simone was worthier of a MUCH. BETTER.WIG