It looks like the Nina Simone biopic starring Zoe Saldana is really happening. For real. Like, they’re actually going through with this.

From the very beginning, many have been, let’s say, skeptical, about the casting of Zoe Saldana, a light skinned black woman of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent, as the dark-skinned Nina Simone. In the film, Zoe Saldana wears a wig far from her natural hair texture, a prosthetic nose and most jarringly, dark brown makeup. For many, Saldana is effectively wearing blackface.

To be fair, none of us have seen the film yet, but the visual of Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone is going to be a hard thing to get past.

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In 2012, Nina Simone’s daughter expressed her issues with the film, namely that the filmmakers should have cast a woman who more closely resembles her mother. Most seem to agree that there are plenty of black actresses with darker skin who would have been better suited to play Simone.

So how exactly did this happen? How did what I have to believe is one of the worst strings of decision-making in the history of film occur? We may never get an answer to that question, but what we do know is who actually made this film happen.

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Take a look at the team behind Nina and see if you can perhaps glean what went wrong.

Writer and Director Cynthia Mort

Casting Director Heidi Levitt

Key Makeup Artist Vera Steimberg (She is the woman who is not Zoe Saldana)

Prosthetic Makeup Designer Matthew W. Mungle

Key Prosthetic Artist Douglas Noe

Costume Designer Magali Guidasci

Screenshot via

Owner of Ealing Studios Entertainment, the studio that produced the film, and Executive Producer Ben Latham Jones (He is the guy who is not in the Black Eyed Peas)

And here are the producers and executive producers of Nina:

Top row left to right: David Oyelowo, Mark Burton, Stuart Parr and Paul Rosenberg, Lauren Lloyd, Allison Sarofim. Bottom row left to right: Aigerim Jakisheva, Barnaby Thompson, Pierre Lagrange, Jimmy Iovine.

I wasn’t able to find usable photos for producers Chris Stinson, Gene Kirkwood and James Spring but I can confirm that they are all white men.

Can anyone help me get to the bottom of this mystery?


Images via Getty. Images of Aigerim Jakisheva via Twitter.