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  • Writer's pictureEd Gaines

Zoe Saldana Says She "Should Have Never Played" Nina Simone

Zoe Saldana has apologized for portraying celebrated musician Nina Simone in the 2016 biopic "Nina". The "Avatar" actress opened up about her controversial role while speaking with "Pose" creator Steven Canals. Saldana said:  "I should have never played Nina. 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. I should have tried everything in my power to cast a Black woman to play an exceptionally perfect Black woman." At the time of the casting, Saldana faced criticism for playing Simone over an actress who more closely resembled the late legend. While portraying Simone, the now 42-year-old actress, who identifies as Afro-Latina, wore a prosthetic nose and darkened her skin. Simone's daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, complained about Saldana's casting, stating:  "My mother was raised at a time when she was told her nose was too wide, her skin was too dark. Appearance-wise this is not the best choice." Saldana credited growth and time for her current stance, and added she has come to understand why her casting was questionable. "I thought back then that I had the permission because I was a Black woman. And I am. But, it's Nina. 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. About her voice, her views, her music, her opinions and her art. And she was so honest. So, she deserved better." As she continued, Saldana became emotional while issuing a formal apology. She said, "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry because I love her music. It wasn't enough. With that said, she's one of our giants and someone else should step up. Somebody else should tell her story." Saldana promised that she knows better and will not make this kind of mistake again. She shared, "I know better today, and I'm never going to do that again. Never. I'm learning. I'm still processing it. I've been processing it for ten years, and I think it's a conversation that I wanna have."

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