During her stunning photo shoot with Glam Belleza, actress Zoe Saldana sat down with the magazine and talked about various issues, including the uproar over her controversial casting as legendary singer Nina Simone in the upcoming biopic.
The 35-year-old actress told the magazine:
“You know, I do wish that people made their own judgment after they watch the movie because right now, it isn’t even edited yet, and there’s been so much uproar. I can’t say that I’m not affected by it or that it’s not valid. But the one thing that we all have in common is an unconditional love and admiration and respect for Nina Simone. Something that’s done out of love, in my mind, can’t be right or wrong.”
Saldana was referencing critics who are upset with the casting decision because the actress, an Afro-Latina from the Domincan Republic with small facial features and light skin, would be an inaccurate physical portrayal of Simone.
Some Simone fans called for Saldana to be replaced by a black actress – Viola Davis or Kimberly Elise – who had a closer resemblance to the singer, who was curvy and dark-skinned, with full lips and an African nose.
A petition on change.org to “Replace Zoe Saldana with an actress who actually looks like Nina Simone” states that:
“Getting light-complexioned actors to play the roles of dark-complexioned historical figures is not only a sign of blatant disrespect to the persons they are portraying, but it is also disrespectful to their families, to history, to the people who look like the persons being whitewashed, and to the intelligence of the audience.”
In her Glam Belleza interview, Saldana was also asked about her identity as a black Latina. The Avatar actress responded by saying:
“I am proud to be Latina. I will not accept [anyone] telling me that I’m less or whatever, because to me, that is just hysterical. But I don’t like to break and divide myself into all these small little categories like, ‘I’m an American, a woman, a Latina, a black Latina.’ No. I am Zoë.”
Saldana also spoke about enjoying her successful acting career, telling the magazine:
“Do you know what’s so funny? I never really dreamt about this. I like how I go about my life and make decisions that are good for me. I feel like that’s what has led me to my career. I’ve collected a wonderful palette that prevents people from boxing me in. I’m going to keep doing that.”