Although the media would have you believe it is.
It’s about the power of images, it’s about the stories that are ignored by Hollywood, it’s about giving respect and honor to an icon.
Zoe Saldana is beautiful and talented. People who oppose her playing Nina Simone do not disagree. However, Simone’s appearance was part of her power and her journey. She was dark, curvy, natural, beautiful with a wide nose and luscious lips. Therefore, it is critical that an actress convey that. And quite frankly, the “leaked” photos that I saw were creepy and caricature-like. There are actresses/singers who bear a natural resemblance. I figure if you had to choose, either go for the vocalist who has that talent to the project (which is debateable if anyone could fit the bill) OR go for someone who can act and looks the part. I don’t understand why this was not a priority.
For a project depicting such an icon, there is going to be a lot of discussion; imagine trying to cast someone to play Michael Jackson (it has been attempted but never accomplished, in my opinion). I recently heard a rumor that Lenny Kravitz is slated to play Marvin Gaye. Not sure if it’s true, but I think that’s brilliant! But I know the blowback on that casting would probably be huge… My point: you have to make accurate casting a priority because there’s going to be public discontent.
I am very disturbed by the fact that the project chose not to consult the Nina Simone experts: the family. Therefore, the resulting portrayal is inaccurate. Also, how do you NOT focus on her activism and therefore her music, they are organically connected. What’s the point in doing the movie?!?
I’m not surprised that Saldana has not commented on the controversy. As a Black/Latina actress, I would wager that she herself is conflicted. The good news is people who are unfamiliar with Simone will hopefully investigate the high priestess of soul. Also, perhaps someone will step forward to do a proper movie to chronicle her life because this one ain’t the one.