An official poster for Nina, the Nina Simone biopic starring Zoe Saldana, has been revealed and, well, the movie still looks suspect.
As previously reported, the role involves Saldana wearing a prosthetic nose and darkening her skin to match Nina Simone’s tone. In the years since the dubious casting was announced, there’s been vast criticism (including from Simone’s family), pointing out that this is the equivalent of blackface for Zoe, who’s of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent, and effectively undermines Simone’s legacy.
Not to mention, Saldana has a record of saying things like, “There’s no such thing as people of color.” Nina Simone’s daughter has been the most vocal with disapproval from the start, telling The New York Times in 2012, “My mother was raised at a time when she was told her nose was too wide, her skin was too dark. Appearance-wise this is not the best choice.” She also told Ebony, “I love Zoe Saldana’s work. I’ve seen some of her movies more than once and really enjoy what she brings to the screen. As an actress I respect her process, but I also know that there are many actresses out there, known or not, who would be great as my mother.”
The trailer is... something. Points for casting David Oyelowo (as Simone’s manager Clifton Henderson). The Nina poster (the movie is out April 22) shows Saldana looking not like herself, in an attempt to mimic Simone’s features. People states that the studio confirms they “did not doctor the image, and that it is just a still used from the movie.”
Well, duh, Zoe herself is the doctored image. The actress has consistently defended the role, telling Allure in 2013, “It doesn’t matter how much backlash I will get for it, I will honor and respect my black community because that’s who I am.” In another interview with HipHollywood.com that year, Saldana said, “I don’t care who tells me that I am not this and I am not that. I know who I am and I know what Nina Simone means to me. So that is my truth and that set me free.”
The befuddlement continued on Twitter.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.