After Zoe slyly re-tweeted a fan's inaccurate sentiment, that backlash against her upcoming portrayal of Nina Simone was a case of "reverse-racism"- (not sure how petitioning to see a genuine depiction of someone’s image qualifies as “reverse-racism”, particularly since the actress chosen to play her identifies as Black)- that pretty much justified what this erroneous film really is… a farce-in-the-making.
Needless to say pictures of Zoe Saldana, reportedly on the set of the biopic in question, have surfaced across social media platforms and I’m not quite sure what to make of the visuals. Aside from feeling disenchanted with the mediocre wig, what looks like dark(er) makeup, and possibly prosthetic teeth and/or nose? … I’m still not convinced.
Rather than cast a capable actress who can convincingly play the role and who fits the phenotype Nina Simone fought so vehemently to defend, this is what we’re presented with so far. But one can’t be all that surprised, considering Cynthia Mort has opted to take excessive creative licenses with the story to begin with, so I suppose Nina’s fans shouldn’t expect the filmmaker to oblige them with any semblance of authenticity to her image.
gas-lighting other Black actresses who have a difficult time navigating the film industry and who aren’t as prolific, because they don’t fit into the “safe” box of adjectives executives and casting agents defer to, when they’re casting roles for women of color, with darker skin, natural hair, and Afrocentric features. Zoe will always be bankable because while she has brown-skin and is a moderately decent actress, she’s still a multiethnic Black (Afro-Latina) woman who puts casting directors’ minds at ease, because of her decidedly more palatable features. And to those struggling Black actresses she deemed as lazy in that September 2011 issue of Ebony she was interviewed for, I'm sure they'd love to be able to benefit from the same opportunities she reaps (i.e. plum roles like Nina Simone)... if given a fair chance.
But alas, regardless of what I or many other people think of Cynthia Mort's offering, the film is still being made, promoted, and shown in theaters. How Black audiences receive the film (aka, whether they will spend money to support it) remains to be seen. And while I am beyond appreciative of the work filmmaker Ava DuVernay and AFFRM are spearheading and hope it prompts more screenwriters and filmmakers to take control of our image, contribute to a growing Black film infrastructure, and to tell our stories with integrity, that still doesn’t mean people are wrong or out of order for challenging the mainstream film industry and media for their continued assault on the Black female aesthetic and for disregarding a certain subset of Black actresses, because of how they look or where they fall within Hollywood's hierarchy of what's considered "hot" when it comes to Black actresses and entertainers.
So, curiouser and curiouser… down the rabbit hole we continue to plunge, to see how things continue to unfold with this controversial Nina Simone biopic. Make of these pictures, what you will.