Since the announcement ofa biopic on the life of pianist, singer and civil rights activist, Nina Simone,fans have been buzzing in anticipation of having the story of the late greatartist told. To the dismay of many however, actress Zoe Saldana has been chosento portray the blues icon.
Saldanais most known for her roles in science fiction movies like Avatar and the latest version of Star Trek, which has a sequel premiering this summer. While bothmovies required the 34 year old actress to learn a different language and toportray as an alien species, they did not prepare her for the backlash she hasbeen receiving for the role of portraying a real American icon.
Muchof the criticism derives from critics’ opinion that the young actress bearslittle resemblance to Nina Simone. “Musician India.Arie said "they shouldhave chosen someone who looks like Nina Simone," and an online petitionfor a boycott of the film attracted more than 10,000 signatures.” (Lawless) Manyargue that because Saldana bears little resemblance to Simone in both skin andhair texture, she will not be able to tell the story of Simone in a realistic sense.
TheAP reports that Saldana feels very strongly that she is the right actress toplay Nina Simone. “The Nina Simone story needed to be told, and I'm reallyblessed that I did it,” said Saldana, a New Yorker of Puerto Rican andDominican descent.” (Lawless) Nina Simone, along with her amazing talents has amusician, had a major influence on the civil rights movement with songs, “Young,Gifted & Black”, and “Mississippi Goddam”.
“Justlike everybody else I feel very strongly about Nina Simone, and that (this) wasa story that needed to be told.” (Zoe Saldana) Saldana feels that her talent asan actress and the importance of telling Nina Simone’s story on screen areworth the controversy that she has thus endured since taking the role.
Lawless, Jill. "Zoe Saldana: Nina Simone Controversy Wont Deter Me From Telling Story." The Huffington Post 15 May 2013: 5.