(Click Here to Read FULL article @ The Grio…) – From The Grio — In Zoe Saldana’s recent Allure interview, the Afro-Latina actress has once again stated that she is unconcerned with any backlash she receives for playing legendary singer and activist Nina Simone. In a perplexing statement, she compares her controversial casting as “The High Priestess of Soul” to Elizabeth Taylor playing Egyptian Queen Cleopatra VII in the 1960s.

“Let me tell you, if Elizabeth Taylor can be Cleopatra, I can be Nina — I’m sorry,” Saldana, 34, said unrepentantly. “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.”

Who Saldana is may be clear to her, but her understanding of who Nina Simone was and from where the criticism stems appears to be minimal.

Saldana: Out of touch with African-American audiences?

Contrary to Saldana’s personal beliefs, the vast majority of observers who have weighed in on director Cynthia Mort’s decision to cast Saldana, from India.Arie to Nina Simone’s daughter, Simone Kelly, are black and view it as the ultimate show of disrespect. Not only because it is an aesthetically horrific choice that relies on blackface and prosthetics to pull off, but because Nina’s rich, dark skin, kinky hair and full lips shaped her life’s experiences, subsequently shaping her music.

Nina Simone would not have been able to conjure “Mississippi Goddam” and “Four Women” from the depths of her soul had she been born with more European features and straighter hair.

Further, it is both fitting and unsettling for Saldana to compare herself to Taylor. Cleopatra, whose black African heritage has been passionately argued for and against, has been described as both “tawny” by Shakespeare and a “negress” in some historical texts. For Saldana to claim that casting the extremely pale Elizabeth Taylor to play her somehow justifies her own misguided role as Nina Simone is a slap in the face of the black community she claims to represent.

Her history of ignoring racial history

And this is not Saldana’s first time brushing off criticism as inconsequential.

“What keeps me focused and what kept me from getting stressed from being hurt by the comments is I’m doing it for my sisters, I’m doing it for my brothers, and I don’t care who tells me I am not this and I am not that. I know who I am, and I know what Nina Simone means to me,” Saldana said in an interview with HipHollywood.com.

“I can only rely on that and maintain as much humility as possible, so that when I have to face the world and we have to then give the movie to the world to see, and share it with them, that if it comes back in . . . a negative fashion or positive, I’m gonna keep my chin up. And Nina was like that too. I did it all out of love for my people and my pride of being a black woman and a Latina woman and an American woman, and that’s my truth.”

Colorist privilege with questionable consequences 

That curious blend of arrogance and accessibility seems to be the root of criticism aimed at Saldana. She is not embracing her community; she is saying through her dismissiveness that how we feel doesn’t matter. By ignoring the hurt of Nina’s family and the pain of black women who have been deemed too dark, too heavy, too ugly to be portrayed on film as anything other than maids, slaves, and whores, Saldana becomes part of the problem.

(Continue Reading @ The Grio…)

Tags: ,
Like Us On Facebook Follow Us On Twitter


  1. The Other Jess

    ummm..duh..her point is that if a WHITE woman can play an ancient AFRICAN Queen (many historians say Cleopatra was Black), then she, as BLACK woman, can definitely play another Black woman who just so happens to be of a different ETHNICITY – NOT a different race, but a different ethnicity. Again, she stated that she is going to proudly represent her BLACK community. This is sad.

    Why are Black people going after another Black woman???? Honestly, this is why Black women stay losing. You can’t hatepeople that areobvioulsy Black just because the ethnic group they come form is considered more acceptable by whites (and Black men) . It doesn’t change who she is. BTW, Zoe is also playing Uhuru, from Star Trek, who was originally and always cast as a Black woman. Obviously she doesn’t have a problem being Black.

    I am so proud of Zoe for standing strong on this one. And her statement proves once again that she refuses to deny her Blackness. Ok, so maybe Zoe doesn’t look like Nina, so what? Charlize Theron didn’t look like Eileen Wuornos, the serial killer either. SMDH.

  2. ivrop

    It’s seems we’re ‘beating a dead horse’ revisiting this topic. Let our dollars speak volumes by not supporting this film. JMO

  3. Anonin

    I’m over her not that I paid any attention to her before but now I’m not even going to bother. Pretty, passionate strings of explanations don’t impress me.

    The thing that gets me is she had the nerve to talk about “my brothers, my sisters, I know what Nina means to ME ME ME ME.” All while ignoring Nina’s family’s wishes. So disrespectful.

    I guess we’ll see what happens when the movies out because I know some people are supporting her.

  4. Sasha

    Seriously just let it go. Why do some people have this irritating, almost harrassing, habit of trying so hard to change another person’s mind or opinion if it doesn’t gel with theirs? We get it- Zoe Saldana is an idiot, people don’t want her playing Nina Simone and she needs a dictionary. Move on.

  5. So over this story…..next