India.Arie is a self-proclaimed Nina Simone fan, and she thinks filmmakers’ efforts to transform Zoe Saldana into a Nina look-alike are “ridiculous.”
India was among the actresses on the short list of those considered to portray Nina in the upcoming biopic, but her irritation isn’t about her inability to snag the role.
“I think VIOLA DAVIS should be playing Nina Simone,” India wrote on NinaSimone.com after seeing images of Zoe as Nina. India admitted she was reluctant to rush to judgment about Zoe being cast in the role, but those photos prompted her to break her silence.
“I saw the images of Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone… AND I THINK THEY ARE RIDICULOUS!” she said. “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.”
Those are the sound arguments India presented to explain her objections. In addition, she thinks Zoe made up to look like Nina “just looks WEIRD, it looks like a person in Black(er) face with a fake nose … REALLY?!!!!"
India wasn’t throwing shade at Zoe, though. In fact, she believes the Words actress will deliver.
“I trust that through her obvious admiration of Nina, that Zoe Saldana can pull off the portrayal ENERGETICALLY,” she wrote. “Maybe Zoe Saldana REALLY is BEING CALLED SPIRITUALLY TO PLAY THIS ROLE.”
That said, the whole thing just leaves India feeling blue.
“These images … just make me feel … SAD. Not because I want to play Nina Simone but because IT FEELS OUT OF PLACE WITH WHAT NINA MEANS IN AN AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORICAL CONTEXT!!!! (yes I yelled just now…),” she said.
India told Sister 2 Sister that she would have gladly accepted the role had Nina’s family requested it, but she wrote that she never felt entitled.
“I have always been OPEN to playing Nina, but I never saw it as my RIGHT!” she explained.
All in all, India expressed that she’s really just concerned about how the film will reflect Nina’s life and all she meant to fans, friends and family.
“DOES NOT THE ONE NINA SIMONE’S LEGACY DESERVE BETTER THAN THIS?”
India talks to S2S about the role. Watch.
See Zoe’s transformation below.
—Tracy L. Scott
What do you think of India’s comments?