This is the poster for the upcoming biopic on the life of Nina Simone.
As many of you have probably already heard, Zoe Saldana has been chosen to play the legendary singer/activist. In the movie, Zoe wears a prosthetic nose and dark make-up. Which has upset many in the African American community.
This is just bad politics as far as many in the African American community. It would be an absolute understatement to say how much this movie has angered many in the African American community, many of whom feel absolutely insulted culturally.
Much of the criticism stems on the reality of Zoe Saldana not being African American–she’s Dominican and Puerto Rican. Also the sting of having a woman of color having to put on dark make-up to play a role of a dark-skinned Black woman, is simply galling.
Zoe Saldana is a light-skinned actress. And it just seemed ridiculous to pick a woman who needed to be put in dark make-up, when there was an abundance of dark skinned actresses who were available and more than qualified to play the role. Oh. I did I mention…that Zoe Saldana’s husband is—ta…da…A WHITE MAN?!?
Many questioned why they couldn’t choose dark-skinned Black actresses to play the role? Kimberly Elise and Viola Davis were the top two choices. And would have surely gave stand-out performance.
The typical aversion of Hollywood to avoid dark-skinned Black women, opened up a lot of wounds: the typical choice to favor light-skinned actresses, just popped open that cultural can of worms that won’t go away.
The casting controversy was just one. The second issue that many took to task was the fact of Nina Simone being very proud of her dark-skin, promoting the beauty of dark women like herself; it was just simply wrong and disrespectful to her legacy to have a light-skinned actress play her.
You can’t understand Nina Simone’s life and legacy, unless you take a step back to understand her stance as a dark skinned Black woman. This fact was inexplicably linked to her life’s projectory, her art, and her politics–and to every single thing that made her bold and fearless to be who she was without apology.
Her daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, gave an interview to the Los Angeles Times and explained how Nina had been treated all of her life because of her dark skin. Even as a child, she was told that her nose was too big, her skin too dark, and her lips to wide. She stated that it was important for the world to acknowledge her mother as a classical artist whose dreams weren’t realized because of racism.
Zoe Saldana donning blackface to play a Black woman, is just as insulting as a white person doing it. Period.
Frankly, ever since the movie was cast, Black people were defiant and resistant to Saldana playing the part. Although,lauding her talent; some just felt she was the wrong choice. Including, the late singer’s only child, Lisa Simone Kelly.
I don’t want her to play her because of the identity issues that many Black Latino people have…they took colorism to higher levels.
To get into this issue, in and of itself, would be a collegiate discourse indeed. However, to simplify it, basically, colorism is the preference for lighter skin. Colorism is a hybrid of racism. Colorism can happen to people of different races but it can also occur to people of the same race. Its origins is rooted in White Supremacy, and the hatred inflicted on people of color to the degree, many adopted the sick, pathological behaviors of their masters.
It’s a global problem.
The movie is scheduled for release on April 22, 2016.
It will be interesting indeed to see how the public at large responds.
Here is a French film on the life of Nina Simone: