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On Wednesday, the first trailer for this year’s Nina Simone biopic was released to audiences, and the result has been … unfavorable. Potential audiences immediately took to social media to decry the casting of Zoe Saldana in the film’s lead.


The last 36 hours has been a rush of suggestions as to who should really play the lead mixed with insults tossed in Saldana’s direction. Yesterday, for example, Nina Simone’s estate responded thusly to a Simone quote posted on Saldana’s Twitter feed:

Which seems … a little harsh. Sure, the observation that Simone and Saldana aren’t exactly twins is spot on, but Hollywood has a long history of casting talented actors to portray famous people who didn’t look anything like them. Heck, Cate Blanchett got rave reviews for playing Bob Dylan. No, the real crime in Nina isn’t Saldana’s performance (which at least seems enthusiastic), it’s the makeup. They’ve darkened her skin and used mild prosthetics to elicit a more Simone-like appearance and it didn’t go well.

So, let’s think about blaming the scads of people who were in charge of the aesthetics before we put the entirety of the blame on the shoulders of an otherwise talented actress, especially when we haven’t even seen the entire film yet.



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