Zoe Saldana Wants You to Know She’s Black, Y’all
Zoe Saldana has had an amazing career. The Afro-Latina beauty has seamlessly slipped into a plethora of roles, from a HBCU drill team dancer in Drumline and highly evolved alien being in Avatar, to a stone cold assassin in Colombiana. While Saldana has found success in Hollywood, there’s one role that she just can’t shake: Nina Simone.
After set photos of Saldana made up to look like the legendary singer were released a few years ago, the New York native was heavily criticized for taking the role. Many objected to Saldana portraying Simone, arguing she was too light to portray the jazz legend. While Saldana is certainly a capable actress, the prosthetic nose and heavy make-up used to transform her into Simone only intensified the critique.
After years of delay, Nina was quietly released back in April. But no matter what she does, folks just keep asking about the film and the controversy surrounding it. This time, the folks over at Allure posed the question, and Saldana was–once again–unapologetic about taking the role.
“The script probably would still be lying around, going from office to office, agency to agency, and nobody would have done it. Female stories aren’t relevant enough, especially a Black female story,” Saldana told the mag. “I made a choice. Do I continue passing on the script and hope that the ‘right’ Black person will do it, or do I say, ‘You know what? Whatever consequences this may bring about, my casting is nothing in comparison to the fact that this story must be told.'”
While the backlash against Saldana has been fierce and the film has been panned, she said she’s happy she did the film.
“The fact that we’re talking about her, that Nina Simone is trending? We f–king won. For so many years, nobody knew who the f–k she was. She is essential to our American history. As a woman first, and only then as everything else.”
Oh, and to the folks who said she wasn’t Black enough to play Simone, Saldana had a few things to say, too.
“There’s no one way to be Black,” she explained. “I’m Black the way I know how to be. You have no idea who I am. I am Black. I’m raising Black men. Don’t you ever think you can look at me and address me with such disdain.”
In short, Saldana is Blackity Black and she’s tried of folks trying it.