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Zoe Saldana: Young, gifted, but maybe not black enough to play Nina Simone

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Late jazz icon Nina Simone embraced her blackness. So many fans were upset to see Zoe Saldana wearing an afro wig and dark brown makeup for Simone's biopic.

Few would deny that the late Nina Simone was gifted and black.

And so, when directors of an upcoming biopic about Simone announced in 2012 that actress Zoe Saldana would have the lead, fans of the singer were a bit concerned; Saldana is Puerto Rican and Dominican, several shades lighter than Nina Simone, and her features less pronounced.

Nina Simone (left) and Zoe Saldana
Richard Chambury/Richard Chambury/Invision/AP
Nina Simone (left) and Zoe Saldana

Earlier this week, a trailer was released, and fans were given a taste of the film.

Reaction from black bloggers and commentators in the Twittersphere have been overwhelmingly negative. 

Even Nina Simone’s estate served up some cold shade against Saldana. 


The exchange elicited this fitting response by one Tweeter:

Why did Saldana’s appearance cause a social media upset? Possibly because it struck a long-sensitive nerve in the African-American community, and revived conversations around a word that's all-too-familiar in the black community: colorism. 

Screengrab of Oxford Dictionary definition of "colorism"
Screengrab of Oxford Dictionary definition of "colorism"




For more on the casting decision, Take Two spoke to actress Anne-Marie Johnson

Press the blue play button above to hear the interview. 

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