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(L) Zoe Saldana in 2014 (Jason Merritt/Getty Images); (R) Nina Simone in 1965 (Wikimedia)

No holds barred

Zoe Saldana fires back at those who criticized her for playing Nina Simone

By WITW Staff on June 20, 2016

Zoe Saldana, the actress who was accused of playing in “blackface” for portraying the darker-skinned Nina Simone in a biopic, has responded to critics, telling Allure magazine that there is “no one way to be black,” and adding, “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.” Even the daughter of the legendary soul singer had commented that Saldana was not the best choice “appearance-wise,” while others argued that the Guardians of the Galaxy actress was too attractive for the role. “I never saw her as unattractive,” Saldana responded to that criticism. “Nina looks like half my family! But if you think the [prosthetic] nose I wore was unattractive then maybe you need to ask yourself, ‘What do you consider beautiful? Do you consider a thinner nose beautiful, so the wider you get, the more insulted you become?”

While the movie Nina has been largely dismissed by critics, Saldana still feels that it was a story that needed to be told. “The fact that we’re talking about her, that Nina Simone is trending?” she told the magazine. “We f***ing won. For so many years, nobody knew who the f**k she was. She is essential to our American history. As a woman first, and only then as everything else … Let it be the first movie. If you think you can do it better, then by all means. Let ours be version number one of 10 stories in the next 10 years about the f***ing iconic person that was Nina Simone.”

Read the full story at Allure.


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