Zoe Saldana Explains Why She Decided to Play Nina Simone, Despite the Backlash

June 16th 2016

Laura Donovan

Many people expressed fury over actress Zoe Saldana's casting in the film "Nina," a biopic on the late singer Nina Simone, and the actress just opened up to Allure about why she felt it was important for her to accept the part.

Here's some context.

When the trailer and movie poster for "Nina" debuted earlier this year, some people accused Saldana of darkening her skin and wearing a larger prosthetic nose to look more like Simone. Critics said that Saldana, who is lighter-skinned, should not have had the role and that it should have been given to a darker-skinned actress to better reflect the identity and legacy of Simone. Simone's estate even condemned Saldana for tweeting out a Simone quote at the height of the controversy in March:

Zoe Saldana Nina Simone

Despite the backlash, Saldana insists that she was an appropriate choice for the job.

"There's no one way to be Black," she told Allure. "I'm Black the way I know how to be. You have no idea who I am. I am Black. I'm raising Black men. Don't you ever think you can look at me and address me with such disdain."

Saldana, who said in an interview with InStyle last year that she had previous concerns about taking the role, told Allure that Simone's story is an important one to tell, and she suggested that it might not have ever made it to the big screen had she stepped down from the role as some wanted.

Nina Simone

"The script probably would still be lying around, going from office to office, agency to agency, and nobody would have done it," Saldana said. "Female stories aren't relevant enough, especially a Black female story. I made a choice. Do I continue passing on the script and hope that the 'right' Black person will do it, or do I say, 'You know what? Whatever consequences this may bring about, my casting is nothing in comparison to the fact that this story must be told.'"

Saldana added that the media buzz surrounding her participation in the film ultimately gave Simone more, well-deserved exposure.

For their part, have shared suggestions on social media of actresses that they feel would be better suited to play Simone.

Read the full Allure piece here.

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