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India Arie blasts Nina Simone biopic

Photo credit: India Arie’s Facebook (

Everywhere you turn it seems like somebody is talking about the upcoming Nina Simone biopic and unfortunately for the movie’s star, Zoe Saldana, most people don’t have anything positive to say about her portrayal of the soul legend. Now, famous singer India Arie has weighed in on the matter and blasted the film, as well.

As previously reported, the biopic has been plagued with bad press and negative fan comments since its inception years ago when it was revealed that Saldana was cast as Simone. Fans were outraged that Saldana, who is lighter in skin tone than Simone, would be portraying the singer and they complained that actresses like Danai Gurira, Adepero Oduye or even Arie would’ve been better choices to play Simone.

However, what seemed to anger fans even more was the fact that Saldana darkened her skin with makeup and wore a prosthetic nose and fake teeth to complete her portrayal of Simone, as well. When photos of Saldana in costume hit the web, fans unleashed a fury of angry comments online about Saldana and the film.

Most recently, Simone’s brother and Simone’s estate blasted Saldana online as well, saying that her casting and the dark makeup were disrespectful to Simone’s legacy. However, Simone’s daughter recently spoke out in Saldana’s defense, explaining that she hates the film, but thinks that Saldana did the best she could with an unfortunate situation.

And it seems like Simone’s daughter isn’t the only one who chose to take aim at the film over Saldana. According to media reports, Arie recently shared her thoughts about the film and said that filmmakers for the movie made Simone look like an ugly woman in the film.

“It made me sad. The way she looked in the movie was ugly. Whether or not Nina Simone was beautiful in your eyes, I thought she was beautiful. But in this movie, she just looked weird. Her skin looked weird, and her nose looked weird. It made me wonder, was that how the filmmakers see her? Did they not think she was beautiful? Were they like, ‘Yeah, we got it! That’s how she looked,'” Arie said.

Arie then spoke about fans blasting Saldana for wearing dark makeup and questioning whether she was Black enough to play the role because of her Latin heritage.

“It’s messy to put it that way. I think the best way to say it is that they casted her against type and went too far to make her fit. It’s not my place to say how Zoe Saldana perceives herself, and I can’t say how anybody else perceives her either. I see her as a black person of Hispanic origin, but I don’t even know what that really means, because I don’t know anything about race and Hispanic culture,” Arie explained.

Arie then referred to an open letter she wrote about the film years ago, in which she discussed the history of Black actors wearing blackface in films.

“In my open letter I called it ‘black(er) face.’ I didn’t know what to call it either. I have heard that there were black actors who played blackface, back when people did that. I think blackface was putting charcoal on your face and doing a certain type of act on stage, the shucking and jiving. You could be black or white. [The Nina portrayal] is a caricature. You had to put a whole other face on someone’s face,” Arie shared.

What do you think? Do you agree with Arie? Let us know in the comments.

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