When actress Zoe Saldana agreed to take on the role of Nina Simone in the film Nina, she most likely didn’t suspect that her casting would be such a huge controversy.
Websites around the net have been questioning the casting choice as numerous pictures have leaked showing Saldana with darkening makeup, an afro wig, dental prosthesis and, possibly, other facial altering makeup.
The controversy is over the casting of a lighter skinned actress when so many others were available. Simone was known for singing regularly about how being “too dark” had put up barriers to her acceptance in the industry.
Mia Mask from Vassar University told ABC News “Here, when we have actresses who look the part and they are still overlooked, it only strengthens the argument that there’s a pattern here.”
Even Simone’s daughter Kelly commented on the situation to Ebony, saying “I love Zoe Saldana’s work. I’ve seen some of her movies more than once and really enjoy what she brings to the screen. As an actress I respect her process, but I also know that there are many actresses out there, known or not, who would be great as my mother. The one actress that I’ve had in my heart for a very long time, whose work I’m familiar with already, is Kimberly Elise. Many people have spoken to me about Viola. I love her look. I love her energy. Both of the actresses that I’ve mentioned are women of color, are women with beautiful, luscious lips and wide noses, and who know their craft.”
Nina is being directed by Cynthia Mort who also wrote the movie and also stars Mike Epps as Richard Pryor, David Oyelowo as manager Clifton Henderson and Ella Thomas as Lorraine Hansberry.