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©AP/ Zoe Saldana
© AP/ Zoe Saldana
Singer India.Arie slams Zoe Saldana's casting as Nina Simone


R&B singer India.Arie has slammed Zoe Saldana's casting as jazz legend Nina Simone, branding the choice "ridiculous."

Bing: See Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone

Cynthia Mort, director of the upcoming biopic "Nina," has been forced to defend her choice of Saldana for the title role following a wave of criticism, including from the late singer's daughter Simone Kelly. Now Arie has waded into the controversy after seeing photographs of the "Avatar" actress wearing prosthetics while filming the movie, insisting Saldana looks "weird."

In a message posted on, she writes, "I saw the images of Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone... and I think they are ridiculous! Yes there should be a movie made, and yes they should have chosen someone who LOOKS like Nina Simone, especially since her race played such a pivotal role in who, what and why, she was.

"That aside for a second, this just looks WEIRD, it looks like a person in Black(er) face with a fake nose... REALLY?!!!! Does not the one Nina Simone's (sic) legacy deserve better than this?... But these images... just make me feel... SAD. Not because I want to play Nina Simone but because it feels out of place with what Nina Simone means in an African American historical context!!!!"

Nov 8, 2012 10:31AM

Zoe Saldana is an awesome actress.However, as Nina Simone? No.

Nov 8, 2012 10:39AM

I started off thinking so be it, but after seeing the photos I am disturbed.  This is horrible.  I love Zoe, but she has no business in this role.  I pray that she delivers but it's a long shot.  This is not about her acting ability but the image and role that Nina portrayed.  This role should have been cast with someone that looked like her and could sing.  It is the story of a real person not fictional.  The audience needs to see NINA SIMONE when they watch, not a character in blackface.  I am a fairskinned, thin nosed woman, this is not a baised opinion for I would be critizing my own image.  I'm saddened that this discussion needs to be had at all.  The casting director, producer, director, whomever is in charge should have never chosen this road.

Nov 8, 2012 10:41AM
There are so many better choices, what a huge mistake!  I'm very sad for the family, Nina Simone deserves better than this.
Nov 8, 2012 10:09AM
who the hell believes a mixed heritage can portray a pure African!? Nina Simone had an earthiness Zoe Saldana couldn't even try to emulate. The pictures are hideous!!!! Why can't Hollyweird" ever stay true to life? Saldana looks ridiculous and the casting director should be SHOT! for disrespecting a BEAUTIFUL BLACK!!!!! WOMAN!!!! Scrape this project until you find someon who actually SINGS!, LOOKS & PERSONIFIES THE DARK BLACK WOMAN'S EXPERIENCE. Zoe wouldn't know a collard green from an endive.
Nov 8, 2012 10:56AM
When it comes to Hollywood it's about the superficial...the skin-deep quality....the on-the-outside beautiful people. The African-American community has every right to weigh-in on this issue, as it concerns the life of an important figure in their history and struggle. Now is the time that African-Americans have to demonstrate their collective conviction that this story must be told accurately and with attention to the integrity and nobleness of the character of Nina Simone. The great actor, Ozzie Davis, set the standards by never accepting a role or portrayal of an African-American in Hollywood's often undignified image of this ethnic group which has done so much to define American culture. It is imperative that the current generation of African-Americans everywhere, and from all walks of life, should continue the outstanding work of people like Mr. Davis and so many others, and this is such a case in which their voices must be heard. There are many talented and great actresses who could do credit to the legacy of Nina Simone and the search for such a person should continue until the proper candidate is found.
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