Since the announcement of a 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 great artist told. To the dismay of many however, actress Zoe Saldana has been chosen to portray the blues icon.
Saldana is 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 both movies required the 34 year old actress to learn a different language and to portray as an alien species, they did not prepare her for the backlash she has been receiving for the role of portraying a real American icon.
Much of the criticism derives from critics’ opinion that the young actress bears little resemblance to Nina Simone.
Musician India.Arie said “they should have chosen someone who looks like Nina Simone,” and an online petition for a boycott of the film attracted more than 10,000 signatures.”
Many argue that because Saldana bears little resemblance to Simone in both skin and hair texture, she will not be able to tell the story of Simone in a realistic sense.
The AP reports that Saldana feels very strongly that she is the right actress to play Nina Simone. “The Nina Simone story needed to be told, and I’m really blessed that I did it,” said Saldana, a New Yorker of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent.” Nina Simone, along with her amazing talents has a musician, had a major influence on the civil rights movement with songs, “Young, Gifted & Black”, and “Mississippi Goddam”.
“Just like everybody else I feel very strongly about Nina Simone, and that (this) was a story that needed to be told.” (Zoe Saldana) Saldana feels that her talent as an actress and the importance of telling Nina Simone’s story on screen are worth the controversy that she has thus endured since taking the role.