For the past couple of years, I’ve been seeing pictures and reports about Zoe Saldana agreeing to portray Nina Simone in the biopic, Nina, about the songstress’ life. I must admit, I thought it was a joke. Even when I saw the pictures I thought that maybe the hoopla would get the casting directors and producers to at least consider a different route. But then, a trailer emerged and the deal was sealed, Zoe Saldana, an actress of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent will be playing a dark-skinned southern Black woman.
Creative license, I guess.
I really want to understand this choice. There are so many questions to be answered…
- Why Zoe Saldana? Is she really that phenomenal of an actress?
- Why choose someone you would have to use prosthetics and paint to change so drastically, rather than a talented actress that may have already physically fit the bill?
- Why not choose someone that could sing as well? To my knowledge, Zoe cannot.
After watching the trailer, I am fully convinced that the choice of casting will overshadow any of Saldana’s talent or the quality of the movie. I am actually a fan of Zoe’s work, one of my favorite movies is Columbiana, and I actually thought her acting in the trailer was decent. But, I cannot get past the physicality. I mean, Zoe looks utterly ridiculous. And that, is what’s really sad here. There are far too many talented makeup artists in this world that could’ve made Zoe look Nina-ish and not like a light-skinned woman in 30 shades darker grease paint and a silicone nose. Hell, Ve Neill is alive and well and probably could’ve done a better job. Yes, Ve Neill of Mrs. Doubtfire, who helped make Robin Williams actually look like someone’s busty grandmother.
Then again, as I do further research into the team behind the movie, I come to an altogether better understanding of the preposterousness of the failed casting. Take a look at the writer/director, Cynthia Mort; casting director, Heidi Levitt; lead makeup artist, Vera Steimberg and most of the producers and executive producers. You will see a host of white faces creating a movie about a Black woman that was not only an infamous singer but a civil rights activist. All of a sudden, all of this makes sense. In the same way that Hollywood keeps producing films about Egypt starring white casts. It’s almost laughable.
I highly doubt that this would’ve been what Miss Nina Simone would have wanted as a depiction of her life and times. But, this is what we have and we can either support it or not. I, for one, have no interest in seeing the movie even if that fine David Oyelowo is a co-star.
I would much rather view What Happened, Miss Simone? or better yet, just catch the High Priestess of Soul via sound recording and video footage on Spotify or YouTube.
What do you think!?!