Entries in Nina Simone (2)


Why Cynthia Mort And Jimmy Iovine Don't Care About Your "Boycott" of the Nina Simone Biopic

Well yet another bundle of photos of Zoe Saldana from the set of Nina have emerged after last week's first batch. This time Zoe is further along in makeup and costumes. These images were spotted at Awesomely  Luvvie.

“When I go after a part, [people] better watch their backs,” she says. “Not because I’m going to crush everybody, but because I’m going to give the best that I can because I strive for excellence. When you don’t get a part, it is for a reason, and these pieces will fall into place soon. … We have a Black president right now, so why the f— would I sit down and talk about how hard it is for Black women in Hollywood when there’s a Black president in my country?Zoe Saldana Ebony Magazine

Bless her little ignorant heart.  Apparently racism disappeared on Inauguration Day in 2009. So did Hollywood's preference for racial ambiguity/ ambidexterity in Black actresses.  Despite the fact that Zoe Saldana is clueless and has no clue about many of the issues Nina Simone advocated. I'm am growing more annoyed by the reaction to her being cast as Nina Simone than the tragedy that are her hair and makeup. Yes, there is a bias against dark skinned actresses - I question whether this passive reaction to this movie will do anything to change that. 

I have watched the reactions to Zoe being cast as Nina and almost universally on every Black site I've read, the reaction has been identical. One common thread that keeps popping up is the word "boycott."  Long time readers know I can't stand boycotts- and have never organized one. Don't particularly care for marches. Are boycotts effective? Yep, but under limited circumstances and only with proper preparation and boots on the ground and a HIGH. LIKELIHOOD. OF. SUCCESS.  The online calls for boycotts are bunch of random disgruntled individuals who probably weren't going to see a movie in the first place. I especially loath online petitions as acts of online laziness. You're not powerless- an online petition is generally  the white flag of surrender. It says that you are out of ideas, or didn't have any in the first place so you are going to beg the folks you're offended by to care that you are offended. Good Luck!

CLARIFICATION- because some of you are just dumb -intentionally intellectually dishonest and hell-bent on dragging this post off topic -  I am in no way disparaging boycotts and marches during the Civil Rights Movement. Those boycotts and marches were the result of massive planning, calculation, and organization. They weren't spontaneous eruptions of online petulance. Hence why I think most online calls for boycotts are LAZY- you don't even understand, nor have the desire to figure out, how that tactic works. 


Cynthia Mort ( and Jimmy Iovine) for her part comes across as an ignorant, entitled, delusional woman. But she is the one who put the film together and got financing.  Here's why she really doesn't care if you're unhappy about her casting decisions:

1. You're not the audience. Stop being a narcissist. The world doesn't revolve around you. I say that in love. There apparently is an audience somewhere that Cynthia Mort is going to find to go see this movie. In fact, you might be shocked if she has no plans for theatrical release in the US at all. Believe it or not, Nina Simone had fans around the world who might not get why dressing Zoe Saldana up in Black face might be offensive.

2. There is almost no such thing as "bad publicity" when trying to raise awareness about what is essentially an arthouse movie. Even the criticism of the movie raises awareness about it. Would we really care if the makeup on Zoe hadn't been so awful and bizzare? I'm debating whether these photos are being released by someone on set who is angry with Zoe Saldana OR if Cynthia Mort is intentionally releasing the photos to raise awareness about the film.

3. She who has the gumption, makes the rules. Lost in all of this is the fact that at any point, any of us, including Nina Simone's estate could have put together our own Nina Simone biopic.  Then we could have cast whomever we wanted to. Cynthia Mort, had the audacity to put together her own package. Which means she gets to do whatever she wants to with her film. When you get your package together, you can do what you want with yours.

4. People who continue to leave their images and destinies in the hands of others will be in  a pepetual state of dissappointment. This is like the passengers of a train whining about the direction of travel. It's a train. You're a passenger, not the engineer. Your options are to go in the direction of the train or get off at the next stop.  All the whining in the world is not going to change the direction of this project.

Now some have said, and mayhaps even I have implied, that Zoe Saldana should not have taken the role of Nina Simone - then there is a random list of Black actresses who the masses proclaim would have been better cast. But you're making several assumptions:

1. We assume that those actresses were not offered the opportunity to audition for the part.

2. We assume they didn't audition. - Maybe they did and were horrible

3. We assume they were willing to work for what Cynthia Mort was willing to pay.

4.We assume they were available when Cynthia needed them to be available.

5. We assume that Zoe doesn't have the acting chops to pull off Nina Simone.

Angela Bassett doesn't look anything like Tina Turner, but she made me a believer. Lawrence Fishburne doesn't look anything like Thurgood Marshall, but he made me a believer.  Did anybody complain when they cast Beyonce as Etta James? Zoe should have the same opportunity to go for it. She may succeed. She may fail spectacularly. But she should have the opportunity to try.

The last issue is whether or not Zoe Saldana is "Black." I will remind you that when the slave ships were bringing our ancestors across the middle passage, they just didn't make stops in the United States.  They dropped a whole lot of folks off in other places in this hemisphere. She's Black folks. That's not to say that the history of the descendant of Blacks who were enslaved in the United States is the same as Blacks who were enslaved in other portions of the hemisphere are the same- they are not.  Zoe's sentiments in the Ebony article probably mirror the opinions of the descendants of slaves who were dropped off in other parts of the hemisphere. Yes, they went through slavery, but they didn't go through JIM CROW and post-reconstruction. Nor were they raised by people who went thorugh JIM CROW and that makes a difference -- in perspective, but not in qualifications to play a role. 

Despite whatever nonsense Zoe Saldana spouts about race in this country, at the end of the day, she would have had to sit at the back of the bus right beside all of the rest of us - I don't care what she thinks. And if ignorance of history were an impediment to Black actors being able to be cast in biopics, then Jaime Foxx should not have gotten within a mile of "Ray."

Black women who look like Nina Simone will start to be cast in movies when Black women produce and cast them.  I still can't believe that you expect Hollywood, to treat Black women with dignity and respect. It is not happening. Let go of the dream and take control of your own destiny. 

Now there is still time for you to put together your own Nina Simone movie or documentary. You could even put together a documentary about people's reaction to Zoe Saldana being cast as Nina Simone- I'd watch it! I think it would be hysterical and entertaining.

And do y'all really think Jimmy Iovine, as in interscope "b*tches ain't nothin' but h*s and tricks," as in Eminem, Dr. Dre, 50 Cent care's about Black women being unhappy? He knows y'all are bluffing!




Zoe Saldana in Prosthetics to play Nina Simone:Some Fans Outraged!

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