The “I Am Not My Hair” singer criticized the casting in an essay posted on Nina Simone’s webpage. While she believes Simone deserves to have a biographical film, she thinks the film is ignoring a central part of the jazz singer’s legacy. “So today I saw the images of Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone…AND I THINK THEY ARE RIDICULOUS,” India.Arie wrote. “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.”
She also mused about the makeup that was placed on the lighter skinned Saldana. “THAT ASIDE for a second, this just looks WEIRD, it looks like a person in Black(er) face with a fake nose … REALLY?!!!!” she continued. “DOES NOT THE ONE NINA SIMONE’S LEGACY DESERVE BETTER THAN THIS? If they were going to pick a person who looks NOTHING like Nina Simone … why not her daughter Simone *shrug* just saying.:
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Arie also addressed suggestions that she should be the one to portray Simone on film. Apparently, the songstress doesn’t think she is a good fit for the role either. “I have always been OPEN to playing Nina, but I never saw its as my RIGHT! I am clearly Nina Simone’s Physical Heir Apparent, THAT doesn’t mean I SHOULD play her, its been tossed around A LOT, for a LONG TIME,” she wrote. “I back down because I feel her legacy deserves better than a FIRST TIME MOVIE ACTRESS, I’m like that about my heroes. If I ever FELT I was truly CALLED to play her, I would. And maybe Zoe Saldana REALLY is BEING CALLED SPIRITUALLY TO PLAY THIS ROLE …”
She ended the post by saying actress Viola Davis should have the role.