Zoë Saldana‘s casting in the 2016 biopic Nina about the life and times of Nina Simone stirred up a bit of controversy, to say the least. Many felt that she was unfit for the role because she wore “Black face” and a prosthetic nose to play the part. Simone’s estate obviously felt the same way because they tweeted, “Cool story but please take Nina’s name out of your mouth. For the rest of your life,” in response to Saldana tweeting one of Simone’s lyrics.
The actress has finally broke her silence in a cover story for Allure:
The script probably would still be lying around, going from office to office, agency to agency, and nobody would have done it. Female stories aren’t relevant enough, especially a Black female story.
Saldana further backed up her decision to play the musician and civil rights advocate in the following statement:
I made a choice. Do I continue passing on the script and hope that the ‘right’ Black person will do it, or do I say, ‘You know what? Whatever consequences this may bring about, my casting is nothing in comparison to the fact that this story must be told.
She went on to credit herself for making Simone a trending topic:
The fact that we’re talking about her, that Nina Simone is trending? We f—ing won,” she said. “For so many years, nobody knew who the f— she was. She is essential to our American history. As a woman first, and only then as everything else.
In regards to her skin color that is lighter than Simone’s, she said there’s no one way to be Black. She also defended her use of the prosthetic nose and claimed Simone looks like some of her family members:
I never saw her as unattractive. Nina looks like half my family! But if you think the [prosthetic] nose I wore was unattractive, then maybe you need to ask yourself, ‘What do you consider beautiful?’ Do you consider a thinner nose beautiful, so the wider you get, the more insulted you become?