Saldana plays the legendary singer in movie which portrays the singer as extremely volatile. It would appear that a lot of the controversy stems from Saldana’s race – her mother is of Puerto Rican decent and her father is originally from the Dominican Republic.
Simone’s brother Sam Waymon went as far as referring to her playing the role as “what we consider blackface” in an interview with New York Daily News. In addition to being a prolific performer, Simone was also a civil rights activist.
However, Simone’s daughter Lisa Simone Kelly has come to Saldana’s defence, telling Time that it’s unfortunate that she is being blamed for the movie.
“It’s clear she brought her best to this project, but unfortunately she’s being attacked when she’s not responsible for any of the writing or the lies.”
By lies, Kelly is referring the dramatisation of the relationship between Simone and her manager, played by David Oyelowo.
The movie has raised the ire of others, including India Arie, who wrote a post on ninasimone.com complaining about Saldana being cast in the role.
Here’s an extract from the post:
“People have been asking me for weeks, months, years about a Nina Simone movie, when I heard about Zoe Saldana being cast I reserved judgment, you NEVER know what People are MEANT to do.
SO TODAY I saw the images of Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone…
AND I THINK THEY ARE RIDICULOUS!
Yes there should be a movie made, and YES they should have chosen someone who LOOKS like Nina Simone, ESPECIALLY since her RACE played such a PIVOTAL role in WHO, WHAT and WHY, she was.
THAT ASIDE for a second, this just looks WEIRD, it looks like a person in Black(er) face with a fake nose … REALLY?!!!!
DOES NOT THE ONE NINA SIMONE’S LEGACY DESERVE BETTER THAN THIS?”