When news broke that a Nina Simone biopic was in the works and that Zoe Saldana was going to play the late soul icon, it was met with a tidal wave of criticisms and backlash. On Wednesday (March 2), the trailer for the movie, titled Nina, hit the internet.
In the clip, we are introduced to Ms. Simone as she is singing “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair” on the piano. From there we see her battling her demons (she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder) as she is throwing champagne, smoking and waving a gun while her manager Clifton Henderson (played by Selma’s David Oyelowo) tries to manage her career the best he can.
At one point Henderson asks, “What happened Nina, why are you playing in front of 100 people and not 20 thousand?”
We then see Simone struggle to overcome her past as she embarks on her triumphant journey to “freedom.” “I’ll tell you what freedom is to me: no fear,” she says at the end of the trailer.
Directed by Cynthia Mort, Nina has been hit criticism from Nina Simone’s daughter and others over the casting of Saldana, mostly because the 37-year-old actress doesn’t look like Simone. Critics have also accused Mort and the film studio of white-washing Simone’s legacy. On top of that, it’s pretty evident that Saldana is wearing dark brown makeup (*cue the side eye*).
On Twitter, fans reaction to the trailer were mixed, but most seem to agree that the Saldana’s brown makeup is off-putting. Undoubtedly, Saldana is going to deliver a phenomenal performance as Simone, but some fans are still wondering if she was the right choice for the role.
“Look at this nonsense. This makeup on Zoe is offensive. Nina’s skin was a gorgeous brown. WHY???” tweeted a viewer, while another wrote, “Remember when Etta James was PISSED that Beyonce played her? I feel like Nina would be 10 times as pissed at Zoe.”
Nina will be released in theaters and VOD on April 22.
Look at this nonsense. This makeup on Zoe is offensive. Nina's skin was a gorgeous brown. WHY??? pic.twitter.com/wMTUJHtxZh
— Awesomely Luvvie (@Luvvie) March 2, 2016
So we talkin about Zoe playin Nina but…you know what? Nvm pic.twitter.com/8NrJDCW11f
— Mad Skillz (@SkillzVa) March 2, 2016
Zoe Saldana Still Looks Questionable in the Nina Poster and Trailer https://t.co/B9qN4Mkw3t
— Dallas Harrison (@dallas90210) March 2, 2016
Viola Davis would've been a great Nina Simone. Did Regina King get called in? Did Niecy Nash get a shot? But Zoe Saldana playing Nina? No.
— WSM. (@butyochakrasdoe) March 2, 2016
Why was Zoe in black face?! That makeup is horrible. Viola Davis would have killed that role. #Nina
— QXJH. (@QueenxJHoney) March 2, 2016
Remember when Etta James was PISSED that Beyonce played her? I feel like Nina would be 10 times as pissed at Zoe.
— Sixo, (@thesalteater) March 2, 2016
"OMG! So Zoe Saldana can be blue and green people, but she can't play Nina Simone?! OMG!"
— Saint Pest (@KidFury) March 2, 2016
i will never be over this zoe as nina thing. it is legit *baffling*.
— Bim Adewunmi (@bimadew) March 2, 2016
Zoë Saldanas black & Nina Simone's black ain't the same. Idc what anybody says. Hell, my black & Nina Simone's black ain't the same.
— Josephine Faker (@Flashy_Words) March 2, 2016
Zoe Saldana gets side eyes but we need not exclude the director, writer, and producers of Nina.
— Kimberly N. Foster (@KimberlyNFoster) March 2, 2016
Zoe Saldana should've fell back on that Nina Simone role. Every check isn't for the taking.
— Too Old To Swag Surf (@BosNaud) March 2, 2016