Since the announcement of Zoe Saldana assuming the role of Nina Simone in the legendary singer’s unauthorized biopic, the actress has been fielding slam after slam for donning blackface to make her portrayal true to character. And, while film critics and fellow entertainers continue to speak out on the hot topic, there’s one detractor who has long taken personal issue with the casting – ‘Brown Skin’ beauty India.Arie.
After taking to the net in 2012 to pen an open letter damning the film for its “parody” of Simone’s story, the songstress recently visited our friends at TheHollywoodReporter to continue her less-than-complimentary weigh in on the film (click here to see its trailer).
Asserting the film ‘propagates institutional racism,’ is ‘tone deaf,’ and even made Simone look ‘ugly,’ tuck in below to read these thoughts and more from Arie:
What did you think of the movie?
India: 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.
Why are some people calling this a blackface performance? Isn’t Zoe Saldana black? Or is this about her not “being black enough”?
India: 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.
Why does it matter that Zoe Saldana doesn’t look like the real Nina Simone?
India: I do kind of agree with that argument that we are diminishing the creativity of acting if you have to cast a person who looks exactly like her..
…in the context of the politics of race in America and the politics of race in the entertainment industry in America, to make a movie about a person like that and cast an actress that has to wear blackface and a prosthetic nose is tone-deaf. To propagate that institutionalized racism that is historical in Hollywood in a movie about her is ironic in the worst possible way.
(Adepero pictured left, Nina Simone pictured right)
What kind of movie would you like to see about Nina Simone, and who would you want to play her?
India: The thing for me is that Nina Simone is part of a small sorority of women who came from being considered the least valuable human beings in all of America — a dark-skinned black woman from Jim Crow South, from very oppressed societal situations— and who became self-defined and venerated and successful and influential and made history.
If I was going to pick someone I know, I would choose Adepero Oduye [a Sundance breakout for 2011’s Pariah, most recently of The Big Short] because of her acting chops and her facial features. But also, wouldn’t it be cool if somebody just came out of nowhere, like a stage actress or how Lupita Nyong’o just came out of nowhere?
Read the interview in its entirety by clicking here.