After being spotted on the set of the Nina Simone biopic, Zoe Saldana is being called out by the jazz icon’s thespian daughter. As previously reported, Saldana was in L.A. this week shooting the Mark Burton, Barnaby Thompson, Stuart Parr and Ben Latham Jones-produced film, Nina. Since then there’s been a wave of controversy concerning the actress being cast to play the iconic singer. Saldana donned dark makeup, an Afro wig and dental implants for the role. One person to take offense in particular is the late singer’s daughter, a Broadway actress who is known mononymously as “Simone” recently shared her thoughts on the issue with Ebony magazine.
“I love Zoe Saldana’s work. I’ve seen some of her movies more than once and really enjoy what she brings to the screen,” said Simone. “As an actress I respect her process, but I also know that there are many actresses out there, known or not, who would be great as my mother.”
According to the theater starlet she’s had one actress in mind to portray her mother; Kimberly Elise, with Viola Davis coming in as a close second. “The one actress that I’ve had in my heart for a very long time, whose work I’m familiar with already, is Kimberly Elise. Many people have spoken to me about Viola. I love her look. I love her energy. Both of the actresses that I’ve mentioned are women of color, are women with beautiful, luscious lips and wide noses, and who know their craft. I also have no problem introducing someone we’ve never heard of before who can play my mother.”
Simone went on to detail how she first learned of the film six years ago when Mary J. Blige was rumored to be the lead and was “very concerned.” “I heard it along with everyone else and I was very concerned. How does someone just decide to do a story about someone and completely bypass family? Completely bypass her representatives? We offered to get involved with all the stuff that we have, from the music, to the pictures, to her writings, to connecting them with the stories of many people who were close to my mother, and we were ignored.”
Saldana and the producers of Nina have been blasted by petitioners who claim they’re trying to “whitewash” the film. In addition to bashing the Afro-Latina lead in the movie, detractors have ticked off a few names of women they find much more suitable to play Simone.
Check out a few of their favorites below. –danielle canada