Nobody is immune from the mistakes of their past during this time of racial reckoning, not even Zoë Saldana who, according to People, is “Afro-Latinx of Dominican, Haitian and Puerto Rican descent,” and had YEARS to change her mind about going full Robert Downey Jr. to play Nina Simone, one of the most iconic women of all time. I mean, her first clue that it was a terrible idea should have been 40+ years of looking at herself in the mirror. The second clue should have been that the movie, simply called Nina, was written and directed by a white woman, Cynthia Mort whose only notable credit to date had been as a writer on Roseanne. At the very least, Zoë should have known it was a mistake when the makeup department came at her with an industrial glue gun and one of the airbrushes they use to paint houses. Still, Zoë enthusiastically signed on to the project back in 2012, deflecting criticism for the decision saying “Let me tell you, if Elizabeth Taylor can be Cleopatra, I can be Nina — I’m sorry.” Well, now she’s actually sorry.
The famously androgynous actor was interviewed by Pose creator Steven Canals for Bese where they spoke about AfroLatinidad identity, colorism in the Latin community and FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!?
“I should have never played Nina,” Saldana said. “I should have done everything in my power with the leverage that I had 10 years ago, which was a different leverage, but it was leverage nonetheless.”
She continued, “I should have done everything in my power to cast a Black woman to play an exceptionally perfect Black woman.”
“I thought back then that I had the permission [to play her] because I was a Black woman,” the Avengers actress said. “And I am. But it was Nina Simone. And Nina had a life and she had a journey that should have been — and should be — honored to the most specific detail because she was a specifically detailed individual. She deserved better.”
Crying, Saldana added, “With that said: I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I know better today, and I’m never going to do that again.”
It doesn’t really hit the same without the hand-wringing and tears, so here’s the video.
Zoe Saldana talking about how she regrets playing Nina Simone on a recent live stream (2/2) pic.twitter.com/3HEMRHwmpK
— Fiona Applebum says block Shaun King! (@WrittenByHanna) August 4, 2020
That was a better performance than the one she gave in the movie, so growth indeed! Though it was in the works for years, Nina didn’t come out until 2016 and its release was greeted by this classic clap back by Nina’s estate, represented by her daughter who had opposed the film since its inception.
.@zoesaldana Cool story but please take Nina's name out your mouth. For the rest of your life.
— Nina Simone (@NinaSimoneMusic) March 3, 2016
And just in case you have forgotten just how bad everything having to do with Nina was, here’s the trailer.
I feel like I’m at risk of getting charged with a hate crime just for posting it here.