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Half Black Actress Zoe Saldana Under Fire for ‘Blackface’ in Nina Simone Biopic

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Half black actress Zoe Saldana, who is playing the role of late singer and civil rights activist Nina Simone in an upcoming biopic, is being criticized for donning “blackface” in a new trailer for the movie.

The film Nina stars Saldana as Simone (1933-2003) and follows her career as a singer and political activist. The first trailer for the film shows Saldana looking much darker than her natural tone and also shows her with a wider nose.

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The trailer immediately outraged fans and family members of the late singer, whose biopic was first criticized in 2012 for casting Saldana, who is of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent.

Members of Nina Simone’s family lashed out at light-skinned Saldana this week online.

The official Twitter account for Simone’s estate first attacked Saldana on Wednesday, after she took to Twitter to share a quote from the singer after the film’s first trailer was released.

“I’ll tell you what freedom is to me – No Fear.. I mean really, no fear #NinaSimone,” wrote the actress.

Shortly after, Simone’s account replied: “@zoesaldana cool story but please take Nina’s name out your mouth. For the rest of your life.”

Others also took to the Internet to share their thoughts on the casting decision:

Nina Simone’s daughter, Simone Kelly, told The New York Times in 2013 she disapproved of Saldana playing her mother: “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,” she added.

Saldana later told InStyle in 2015: “I didn’t think I was right for the part, and I know a lot people will agree, but then again, I don’t think Elizabeth Taylor was right for Cleopatra either.”

Nina Simone was an influential jazz, blues and folk music who released her first album in 1958. In the 1960s, she became heavily involved in the civil rights movement.

Watch the trailer for Nina below:


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