Zoe Saldana to Portray Nina Simone in Biopic
Categories: Makeup Tutorials


Zoe Saldana recently casted to play Nina Simone in her biopic. What are your thoughts? I think Zoe is a fine actor, just don’t know if she fits the part.

zoe saldana nina simone


Recently stumbled upon this open letter on the For Harriet blog and she gives her input on why Zoe being cast may send bad signals for all black women.

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  • Pat

    Hi Jackie
    It seems to me to be quite common practice that when casting for film roles, the physical resemblance of the actor to the character they are playing is not a major concern. In the film The Shawshank Redemption, the character played by Morgan Freeman is an Irishman in the book.
    In the film The Bone Collector, the character played by Denzil Washington is white in the book and the character played by Queen Latifah is a white man in the book. In the film Tom Cruise is currently working on, Jack Reacher, he plays a character who in the books is 6’5″ tall!!
    In the case of Zoe Saldana, I think we’ll only be able to tell if she was right for the role of Nina Simone, once we’ve seen her performance. After all, they can do amazing things with make up these days ;0).


  • DEE

    Hi …..
    I think it is .. RIDICULOUS! She does not resemble Nina Simone in the slightest. They could have done a better job at casting… This movie is a portrayal of an actual person, not a fictional “made up character”…. they missed the mark COMPLETELY


  • Nikki

    Zoe Saldana was an incorrect and problematic choice for the Nina Simone biopic. Nina Simone remains an icon because she gained her level of success despite of or perhaps, in spite of America’s values. The film takes this important message and throws it back in our faces.

    The conversation is constantly being derailed by the idea of being “black enough” to play the role. That’s not the issue. The issue centers on Hollywood’s continuing the same type of practices that hurt women like Nina Simone. The issue is how all women of color are affected when a woman who is more in line with mainstream or traditional beauty is asked to play a woman who struggled against this type of overt and institutionalized racism her entire life.

    I’m not saying Saldana has not experienced similar hardships in Hollywood. I’m not saying she couldn’t use these experiences to build a fine performance in the same way Nina Simone used her experiences to show how black, in any form, is beautiful. But I will say that Saldana’s casting perpetuates the type of thinking that breeds unnecessary hardship and doubt in women of color as accepting themselves through acceptance from others. As Ms. Simone said, “The worst thing about that kind of prejudice… is that while you feel hurt and angry and all the rest of it, it feeds you self-doubt. You start thinking, perhaps I am not good enough.” Again, Saldana’s casting feeds into prejudices inherent to Hollywood casting practices. We have another the same message cared into the silver screen, the same ones we hear at work and in school, in commercials and through news media; you’re not good enough.

    And finally, tellingly, if the film wasn’t aware of these issues, they wouldn’t have her be wearing the (poorly executed) prosthetics and makeup.


  • Ja

    They made Zoe “uglier” for the movie when Nina Simone is not even an ugly woman…. They should have just kept her looking the way she does or casted someone else… I think…


  • MysticDiamond

    I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: India.Arie is the best person to play Nina Simone. To cast Zoe is a definite slap in the face to Black women.



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