Zoe Saldana is continuing to defend her portrayal of iconic activist and musician Nina Simone in the controversial Nina biopic that was released back in April of this year.
Saldana has faced continuous backlash for her starring role in the film, due largely in part to the prosthetics and skin darkening makeup worn by the actress in an attempt to increase her likeness to Nina. Although her performance and physical transformation was widely scrutinized by fans and even some of Nina’s family, Zoe says the fact that the film has reignited the discussion about Nina’s legacy is what’s most important.
“The fact that we’re talking about her, that Nina Simone is trending? We f—ing won. For so many years, nobody knew who the f–k she was,” Zoe recently told Allure. “She is essential to our American history. As a woman first, and only then as everything else.”
Zoe was born to a Dominican father and a Puerto Rican mother and has consistently identified herself as being Black on numerous occasions throughout her career when the topic of her race has come up. In response to the disapproval of many who felt that a darker-skinned, African-American actress should have been cast to play Nina, Zoe reiterated her pride in identifying as a Black woman. “There’s no one way to be black,” she said. “I’m black the way I know how to be. You have no idea who I am. I am black. I’m raising black men. Don’t you ever think you can look at me and address me with such disdain.”
She rounded out her interview commentary by adding that the Nina script may have never seen the light of day had she not decided to take on the role. She also encouraged others who believe they can do a better job of telling Nina Simone story to do so “by all means.”
“Whatever consequences this may bring about, my casting is nothing in comparison to the fact that this story must be told,” she said. “Let it be the first movie. If you think you can do it better, then by all means. Let ours be version number one of ten stories in the next ten years about the f—-ing iconic person that was Nina Simone.”
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