‘Avatar’ actress Zoe Saldana’s casting as Jazz legend Nina Simone was met with heavy criticism from the start. among the many reasons critics sighted where the fact the actress has never in the past shown any proclivity to Jazz, or to singing, and that the actress bears no resemblance to the late singer whatsoever. Saldana had her skin darkened to portray Simone in ‘Nina.’ Many have said her features, especially the prosthetic nose she wore in the film, where similar to the “blackface” that mimicked African-Americans.
They claim Simone’s dark complexion and distinct African features were essential to both her identity and her notion of beauty for black women, and casting the light-skinned Saldana was a poor choice. Even Simone’s estate has expressed disappointment of the film but Simone’s daughter Lisa Simone Kelly defended Saldana saying; “it’s unfortunate that Zoe Saldana is being attacked so viciously when she is someone who is part of a larger picture…Its clear she brought her best to this project, but unfortunately she’s being attacked when she’s not responsible for any of the writing or the lies.”
Simone Kelly blamed director Cynthia Mort for inaccuracies in the film, include the portrayal of her mother’s relationship with her manager, saying the family was not consulted on the film. Looks like Hollywood’s race discussions are far from over. What do you think? Should creativity and quality of performance be judged on the basis of physical likeness, color, or ethnicity? ‘Nina’ is set for release on April 22.
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