Before I swing an ax into this block of controversy, let’s just talk about how the film looks. With a talented cast and powerful story worth telling, it doesn’t come off as an overly impressive film about one of the greatest singers of all time. Nina sees Saldana as the title character and Selma’s David Oyelowo as her bodyguard trying to get her back on track, but there is something off about Saldana’s appearance is there not?
Zoe Saldana is an quality actress who has proven time and time again that she is diverse in the roles she chooses and how she acts them out. For me, she was the queen of science fiction roles in the new millennium and has proven to not care about what possible barriers or skin tones she is required to dawn. From green to blue to her normal light brown complexion, we see Saldana take on a color that doesn’t have a history we’d like to see repeated. If you don’t know, Nina Simone was indeed are dark skinned woman of color and Saldana is not that natural complexion. So what do they decide to do for the 37 year old actress? They give her black face make-up?!
Saldana is an particularly talented actress and while she is of color, it does not mean she was a proper fit for the role. This goes to the whole argument we’ve been having all year and last year and what Chris Rock joked about at the Oscars. Throwing some ethnic people into a role in a film doesn’t mean that’s the way to solve the issues of improper casting for films. What film makers and casting directors should be doing is not just throwing in any old black girl into a role like this, but finding a woman that is properly suited to take on the challenging role of Nina without having to darken her skin with make-up like in the days of propaganda films or flat out racist cinema. It’s a step back from where we want to move forward and I think people are looking past this because the film is smaller than other big budget biopics out there.
It’s a shame after all this time no one would have made a stink about this sooner, including the stars of the film. Oyelowo recently portrayed Martin Luther King Jr.in Selma and he has enough shots in the trailer to see that the make-up caked on his co-star is a far cry from the real solution. There are plenty of women who I’m sure could have bitten into this role who have are blessed with naturally dark pigment and acting chops to have done what Saldana is doing, but minus the controversy.
What do you guys and gals think?