4 years after portraying the legendary soul singer Nina Simone in a heavily criticized biopic, actress Zoe Saldana apologized for taking the role. She joins a growing army of celebrities who are being forced to revisit their past choices as race sensitivity rises across the globe.
One of the main points of criticism since the release of the film was the way Saldana purposefully darkened her skin and used a prosthetic nose to portray Simone, an African American woman. Saldana and her family is from the Caribbeans, particularly Dominica and Puerto Rico.
Although she had previously defended her choice to play Simone, she reversed her words in an Instagram video when she flat out stated she never should have taken the role.
The actress continued that she should have done much more to ensure that an African American actress got to portray Simone instead of her, which she did not do. Apologies like this have become much more frequent in the recent era of cancel culture and hyper sensitivity.
Since the casting decision first became public in 2012, Simone’s estate and fans have panned the decision. Her estate when so far as to tell Saldana to never again mention the singer’s name in her mouth.
As she apologized to her fans, Saldana got teary. The actress explained that back when she was casted for the role, she believed that she could portray the role because she herself is an African American woman.
However, she says that she now realizes the very special role and symbolism that Simone had in the community that required the greatest finesse that she didn’t have. Saldana added that she felt especially bad because she is great fan of Simone’s music.
As Saldana mentioned, one of the reasons why Simone is so revered in the African American community is because of her vocal activism during the Civil Rights Movement. Many of her music referred to or called for change on the racism and sexism that was so prevalent during her time.
Saldana’s apology is no outlier in Hollywood. From classic movies such as “Gone With The Wind” being removed from streaming platforms to talents apologizing their casting decisions, activists have increasingly targeted the apparent racism in Hollywood.
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