All casting decisions are not considered equal. One person who is uniquely qualified to speak on this matter is actress Zoe Saldana, who has received scathing criticism for her casting as Nina Simone in the upcoming biopic.
The decision to cast Saldana in the title in role in Nina, was met with immediate outrage online. From the casual fans to even musicians, the fact that Saldana bears little resemblance to the singer/activist.
Musician India.Arie said “they should have chosen someone who looks like Nina Simone,” and an online petition for a boycott of the film attracted more than 10,000 signatures.
Even the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin weighed in with her opinion, “I did know Nina and I would have liked to see someone with a little more of a likeness and [who] hopefully played the piano,” she said. “But I don’t know Ms. Saldana’s work and Hollywood can do a lot of things in terms of changing your features and all of that.”
But Saldana remained unbowed throughout the controversy, not only continuing her fight for the right to play Simone but thankful for the privilege.
“The Nina Simone story needed to be told, and I’m really blessed that I did it,” said Saldana. “I’m human. I wish I was made of steel and so certain things wouldn’t affect me, so it did affect me but I couldn’t let that deter me from doing what I needed to do.”
Saldana continued, “Just like everybody else I feel very strongly about Nina Simone, and that (this) was a story that needed to be told. I do believe that if everybody had more information about how this all came to be, it might help,” she added. “But then again, I’m not here to get the acceptance of people. I’m here to be an artist first.”
Known as the “High Priestess of Soul,” Simone was an immense, irascible talent who made an indelible mark on both music and the civil rights movement with songs including “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” and “Mississippi Goddam.”
Currently, there is no release date for Nina.
Up next for the 34-year old beauty is her role as Uhura in Star Trek Into Darkness, which opens Thursday, nationwide.
Check out some pictures and music of Simone below: