Zoe Saldana on race and criticism: ‘I am Black. I’m raising Black men.”
Nina, the film that stars Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone, had a long, hard journey to making it to the big screen. It initially went from office to office and couldn’t pin a lead actress until Saldana joined on. But when the trailer was released, it was the target of a multitude of negative criticisms concerning Saldana being chosen, the use of darker makeup and a prosthetic nose and more.
Now that the film has been released after a five year process, Saldana, who stars in the upcoming Star Trek Beyond film, opened up about her feelings on the criticisms of her racial identity and whether or not she should have portrayed Simone in a cover story with Allure.
“There’s no one way to be black,” Saldana said. “I’m black the way I know how to be. You have no idea who I am. I am black. I’m raising black men. Don’t you ever think you can look at me and address me with such disdain.”
Saldana said that all of the negative criticism is worth it because of the end result of making the project – bringing attention to Simone’s legacy that wasn’t there before. She’s also open to this being the first of many films about Simone to let other people attempt to do it better.
“The script probably would still be lying around, going from office to office, agency to agency, and nobody would have done it. Female stories aren’t relevant enough, especially a black female story,” she said. “I made a choice. Do I continue passing on the script and hope that the ‘right’ black person will do it, or do I say, ‘You know what? Whatever consequences this may bring about, my casting is nothing in comparison to the fact that this story must be told.'”
“The fact that we’re talking about her, that Nina Simone is trending? We [f–king] won,” she continued. “For so many years, nobody knew who the [f–k] she was. She is essential to our American history. As a woman first, and only then as everything else.”
And, as far as the use of darker makeup and a prosthetic nose is concerned, she chose to focus on some people’s assumption that it was an attempt to make her appear less attractive instead of the criticisms that a woman who looked more like Simone could’ve just been cast in the first place.
“I never saw her as unattractive. Nina looks like half my family!” she says. “But if you think the [prosthetic] nose I wore was unattractive, then maybe you need to ask yourself, ‘What do you consider beautiful? Do you consider a thinner nose beautiful, so the wider you get, the more insulted you become?’”
Photo Credit: Wiki Commons