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Zoe Saldana, Nina Simone: Actress Responds to Biopic Critics

Jason Merritt, Getty Images

Zoe Saldana is playing Nina Simone in an upcoming biopic on the late singer, but she’s not letting criticism of her being cast in the role get her down.

“I guess what kept me from being hurt by the negative comments was that I’m doing it for my sisters and my brothers,” she said in an interview with Hip Hollywood. “And I don’t care who tells me I’m not this or I’m not that. I know who I am, and I know what Nina Simone means to me.”

She went on to explain that even if the film is met with a negative reaction, she’ll keep her chin up.

“Nina was like that too,” she explained. “I did it all out of love. Out of love for Nina. Out of love for my people and who I am. And my pride of being a black woman and a Latina woman and an American woman, and that’s my truth.”

To be fair, there are a few reasons for the backlash to Saldana landing the gig, and not all of them make sense.

One is that she’s not a singer. Cool, but uhh… she’s an actor. That’s what actors do. They pretend to be someone else. In this case, she’ll be pretending to be a singer. In the history of acting, this is not the first time this has happened. Hard to believe, but yes, it’s true.

Secondly, she replaced Mary J. Blige in the role. Has anyone seen Mary J. Blige act? She can barely play herself, let alone Nina Simone. Please.

Thirdly, Saldana’s mother is Puerto Rican and her father was Dominican. So she’s not black and for that reason probably shouldn’t be playing one of the most iconic characters in modern black history. Also, she doesn’t look like Nina Simone.

Critics have a point there. Then again, that’s why films put their characters in make-up. Right?

Look, let’s not kid ourselves here, Hollywood is potentially white-washing this film. But this is not a documentary. It’s entertainment — no doubt, rooted in reality, obviously — being produced for millions of dollars. Movie studios aren’t in the business of political correctness. They’re in the business of selling tickets, no matter how reverant the central characters are.

You’re talking about the same industry that once put white actors in black face.

Yes, almost a hundred years have passed since then, and we’d like to think that Hollywood is beyond that. It sucks to think that if this was a TV movie, any number of black actresses would have been cast. But this is where we’re at, sadly.

Watch “Zoe Saldana Responds to Backlash Over her Role As Nina Simone” Video

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