Nina Simone’s Brother Explains His Issues with Zoe Saldana & ‘Nina’ Biopic

In a recent interview with Page Six, Sam Waymon explains why he’s fed up with Zoe Saldana and the studio heads who went forward with the biopic.

Page Six writes:

“If I was asked to play someone of the monumental stature of Nina Simone, I would’ve had to think a thousand times before saying yes,” Waymon told us, adding, “I’m outraged by the fact that Zoe Saldana was chosen.”

The family was furious when Saldana, who is of Dominican and Puerto Rican ancestry, was chosen to portray Simone, and photos of Saldana in blackface and wearing a prosthetic nose surfaced in 2012. A movie poster and trailer released earlier this week reignited their furor.

“Nina Simone . . . didn’t have a fake nose or fake lips. Everything about her was real. Why would you go with something made up like that?” Waymon said. “Blackface was used by Hollywood early on to dehumanize and to not have to cast [blacks] . . . I would have thought more highly of [Saldana] if she would’ve turned down the role.”

Waymon, 71, also says Saldana and the film’s director, Cynthia Mort, never consulted the family. He adds the movie falsely depicts a romantic affair between Simone and her assistant Clifton Henderson, played by David Oyelowo.

“It never happened,” Waymon said. “Clifton was a gay man. In addition to a prosthetic nose and blackface, now they’re making a gay man straight. It’s a disgrace to the gay community. It’s disrespectful to Nina, who was about the truth.”

Waymon’s lawyer, Alicia Crowe, said the family might pursue legal action. “That’s certainly a conversation that will be had with the family and estate, but we haven’t seen the film,” she said.

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  1. He may as well just let it go. Zoe’s defenders are now telling dark skinned women to shut up and keep taking the abuse. Colorism will never end in the black community because we refuse to acknowledge it. So let’s just throw our capes on and keep the status quo going and defend poor little Latina Zoe Saldana and shame black women for daring to speak up about the injustices darker skinned women face in the industry.

  2. It’s common sense but if most of us had common sense, there would be no colorism and racism in 2016. Zoe was wrong period and so were the white producers who hired her for the job. I’m so glad Mary J. knew better and walked away when she did.

  3. It’s sad it’s even a debate on why this is so messed up. But the same thing happened when the Light Girls and Dark Girls docs came out. Dark Girls was criticized and dark skinned women were told to suck it up, and Light Girls was more accepted and people wrote essays on why light skinned women need to be understood more. It’s absurd. You expect this with other racial groups, but not with our own. We have to stop trying to silence dark skinned women. It’s wrong.

  4. Remember the speech Viola Davis gave while accepting her Emmy in regards to Dark skin women limited roles in Hollywood? Nina Simone is a big name by itself to attract a big audience. They didn’t need a big name actress for the role. So many dark skin actresses out there that could have perfected this role. They knew what they were doing. Sounds like the controversy is bigger than the actual move. It might actually flope.

  5. I feel so bad for the family. They can’t do anything but sit back and watch Hollywood attempt to tarnish Nina’s legacy. And Zoe just sits there with a big grin on her face willingly going along with it all and she’s a Afro Latina. She should know better considering how Afro Latinas are treated in the Latino community. Sad.

  6. While I agree with all, I also think that Zoe is an excellent actress and though she is not dark skinned, she may be the one actress that nailed the part. I too am brown skinned, sort of medium/dark, so I too felt the burn of being pushed aside for the lighter woman or mixed race woman. Our culture is so diminished of it’s natural purity that we can’t or should not allow ourselves to be defined as dark skinned, light skinned, mixed, etc. We have been divided so many years ago and it is unfortunate divide is still among us. One think I can say for sure, the black race was dealt an dehumanized hand that Caucasians should rightfully feel ashamed. Also, biopics are always done in a way which the family will not agree or will not be included in; which is wrong as well. In their minds they are selling a movie; therefore moral values has no place.

  7. We as a people can’t get over colorism and the whole dark skinned vs. light skinned problem until we stop trying to pretend it’s not an issue. And because we tell dark skinned women to shut up, white Hollywood can’t understand why this movie is a problem. The white director tweeted some major disrespect to the family, but we can’t be surprised a white man is telling dark skinned women to shut up when we as a community have been doing it for a long time.

  8. I agree with everyone who pointed out how often the black community will try to silence dark skinned women. It’s really insensitive and even Queen Latifah defended Zoe. But then again, she’s not dark skinned, so she doesn’t care about the plight of women of darker complexions in Hollywood. Especially when her complexion is more welcomed in Hollywood. She probably hasn’t even noticed that many of her roles are mammyish…but that’s another topic for another day. As a people, many of us have no idea how brainwashed we are to mistreat those who are darker than us. We really should be the biggest advocates for dark skinned women, but most of us aren’t. But most of us will jump through hoops to defend Zoe because we are comfortable with her complexion and cultural background…many of us put her genetic makeup on a pedestal anyway, so defending her feels natural. It’s almost like the narrative of Zoe defenders is dark skinned women are just jealous. I’m not dark skinned, but I’m old enough now to understand that colorism won’t go away by shaming people for calling out the obvious.

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