Mahita Gajanan (The Guardian) writes that Zoé Saldaña’s casting as legendary singer Nina Simone has faced criticism after the trailer and poster showed her with darkened skin and prosthetic nose. Saldaña has accused of “donning blackface and perpetuating colorism” in the film. Here are excerpts; see full article and trailer in the link below:
The trailer and poster for Nina – the Nina Simone biopic starring Zoe Saldana – have been released, sparking more controversy about the casting of Saldana, whose physical appearance and political views have been brought up as obstacles to her playing Simone. The biopic has been at the center of debate since the casting of Saldana was announced in 2012. Saldana, an American of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent, drew backlash for taking the role after photos surfaced of the actor wearing dark makeup and a prosthetic nose on set.
Written and directed by Cynthia Mort, Nina will be released in April and follows Simone through her singing career and political activism, focusing on her time in France, where she died in 2003. David Oyelewo stars as her assistant turned manager Clifton Henderson.
Several of Simone’s fans and family were upset at the casting announcement. The singer’s daughter, Simone Kelly, told the New York Times in 2012: “My mother was raised at a time when she was told her nose was too wide, her skin was too dark. Appearance-wise, this is not the best choice.”
That same year, Kelly told Ebony: “I love Zoe Saldana’s work. I’ve seen some of her movies more than once and really enjoy what she brings to the screen. As an actress, I respect her process, but I also know that there are many actresses out there, known or not, who would be great as my mother.” Kelly said she would have rather Kimberly Elise, Viola Davis or anyone else who looked like Simone portray her mother.
“Both of the actresses that I’ve mentioned are women of color, are women with beautiful, luscious lips and wide noses, and who know their craft,” she said. “I also have no problem introducing someone we’ve never heard of before who can play my mother.”
[. . .] Saldana has previously said she is uncomfortable with speaking on the topic of race and her identity, telling BET in 2013 that she was not raised to see color. “To me, there is no such thing as people of color, ’cause in reality people aren’t white,” she said.