Zoe Saldana Addresses Controversy Surrounding Nina Simone Role

Photo Credit: Cristiano Del Riccio
Photo Credit: Cristiano Del Riccio

By: Amanda Anderson-Niles

Zoe Saldana is usually a very private person who rarely finds herself in the middle of controversy, but ever since the actress was confirmed for the role in the upcoming biopic based on the life of legendary Nina Simone, she’s been front and center of a controversy that has many people furious that she snagged the role. The most popular issue people have with Saldana playing the role is that she is a Latina, and doesn’t have the African American features that Nina had and embraced openly throughout her life and career. Although Zoe consider herself as a Latina and African American actress, many feel she does not have the look to make them confident enough in her upcoming on-screen portrayal of Nina Simone.

As a result of the growing disappointment with the choice of Saldana for the role, a petition was created that demanded that the director of the film selects another actress to play Nina Simone, and supporters of the petition are even suggesting that they will boycott the film if the changes aren’t made.

Nina’s daughter has also been very outspoken about the decision and claims there are more qualified actresses with darker skin tones and genuine African American facial features that could do her mother’s legacy more justice than Zoe.

Despite that, Zoe hasn’t said much about the criticism, besides a cryptic tweet.

Finally the actress officially speaks her mind about the controversy and she addresses the outrage over the role in a recent interview with Hip Hollywood.

She says:

“I guess what kept me from being hurt by the negative comments was that I’m doing it for my sistas and my brothas and I don’t care who tells me I’m not this or I’m not that, I know who I am and I know what Nina Simone means to me.

“I did it all out of love for my people and my pride of being a black woman and a Latina woman and an American woman and that’s my truth.”


Check out the interview below:


  1. I’m not concerned about how she looks (especially since you don’t have to look like the person you’re portraying anyway) but I don’t think she’s a strong actress. She’s not terrible, but she’s not good either. She’s just nice to look at. They should have gotten a stronger black actress because Nina was a very strong woman. The complexion issue is a small one to me…

  2. She doesn’t have the acting chops for this role. They should have gotten Viola Davis or Angela Bassett. Zoe gets roles because she’s pretty, light, and doesn’t scare white people.

  3. She can’t help what she looks like. She says she is black, so who is anyone to tell her she isn’t?! I hope she proves her critics wrong and knocks it out of the ball park. It’s just too much negativity in the world.

  4. People are too judgmental. A black woman can also be Latina. People need to do their homework and stop being so ignorant. I’ll be glad when we as a people get to the point where we don’t feel the need to tell people they aren’t “black enough.”

  5. I hope she proves people wrong.Black people can come from many shapes,sizes,nationalaties,back grounds,skin tones.We should stop with this, isn’t enough that we still are in a white world, and we help them torns us down….Is time to stand together…….

  6. Nina Simone was a beautiful soul who was proud of her African American heritage…and being part of the African Diaspora. She embodied the spirit of her African ancestors and carried herself proudly. Ms. Simone paid a heavy price for recording “Mississippi Godamm”. It is important to know that Ms. Simone knew the negation of women of the African Diaspora who looked like her. What a talent in terms of being a master piano player, singer and entertainer. I have no comment as to whether Ms. Saldana should play her in a movie or, and yes people of the African Diaspora are diverse in terms of skin color, hair texture, features and all that, but we must remember that to capture the essence of Nina Simone is no small feat. I would consider Angie Stone, Marcie Gray and some other real soul singers.

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