‘Nina’ Distributor, Robert L. Johnson, Responds to Zoe Saldana Casting Backlash
Ever since the trailer for the upcoming Nina Simone biopic Nina surfaced, the film has been hit with widespread criticisms over the casting of Zoe Saldana to play the late soul icon. The production company distributing the movie* has issued a statement in response to the backlash.
The Founder and Chairman of RLJ Entertainment, Robert L. Johnson, who is also the founder of BET, released a statement which reads:
Zoe Saldana delivers an exceptional and mesmerizing tribute to Nina Simone. She gave her heart and soul to the role and displayed her extraordinary talent. The most important thing is that creativity or quality of performance should never be judged on the basis of color, or ethnicity, or physical likeness. Quality entertainment should be measured by the sheer force of creativity and the commitment that an actor or actress brings to the performance. We are proud to distribute the film headlined by Zoe Saldana and David Oyelowo on April 22, 2016.”
This probably won't quell the critics who reacted negatively to the trailer when it premiered on Wednesday (March 2). Many felt that Saldana is way too light to play the dark-skinned Simone and she doesn't look like her. On top of that, in the trailer, you can see the 37-year-old actress is wearing a heavy coating of dark brown makeup and what appears to be a prosthetic nose.
However, there may be a silver lining in all of this as the controversy might draw more interest to the film. Nevertheless, it appears that the Nina Simone estate is not supporting the project whatsoever.
When Saldana posted a quote from Nina Simone on her Twitter account, someone responded on Simone's official Twitter page and delivered the ultimate shade to the actress.
"Cool story but please take Nina's name out your mouth. For the rest of your life," read the tweet.
Nina will be released in theaters and VOD on April 22.
*initially this published article mistakenly referred to Robert L. Johnson as a "producer" on the film Nina. Mr. Johnson's role was misrepresented and the article was re-edited with the correction. - The Boombox