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Outrage over Zoe Saldana being cast as Nina Simone sparks boycott effort

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Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone. Image: Ealing Studios Entertainment



Critics outraged that Zoe Saldana will play the late Nina Simone in an upcoming biopic have launched a boycott page on change.org.

Getting light-complexioned actors to play the roles of dark-complexioned historical figures is not only a sign of blatant disrespect to the persons they are portraying, but it is also disrespectful to their families, to history, to the people who look like the persons being whitewashed, and to the intelligence of the audience,” it reads.

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Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone. Image: Ealing Studios Entertainment

Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone. Image: Ealing Studios Entertainment

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The movie, “Nina,” stars David Oyelowo as her manager Clifton Henderson, Mike Epps as comedian Richard Pryor and Ella Thomas as writer Lorraine Hansberry. It’s due out in April.

Nina Simone in 1969. Credit: Jack Robinson/Hulton Archive - Getty Images

Nina Simone in 1969. Credit: Jack Robinson/Hulton Archive – Getty Images

Official synopsis: “She was one of the century’s most extraordinary talents, a 15-time Grammy nominee and Grammy Hall of Fame Recipient; her mesmerizing songs and passionate politics combined to make her the unforgettable Nina Simone (Zoe Saldana). But fame and fortune came with a price, and her later years were riddled with depression, alcohol abuse and isolation. Rediscovering the meaning of her life and work took courage, strength and one true friend: Clifton Henderson (David Oyelowo), the man who started out as her assistant and eventually became her loyal manager. With Clifton’s encouragement, the ‘high priestess of soul’ began a courageous journey back to her music … and, eventually, herself.”

Critics behind the protest site note they don’t dispute Saldana’s talents but blast the choice to cast her as Simone: “For too long Hollywood has gotten away with this practice of revisionist history and it is time that we let our voices be heard, be it by this petition or by boycotting the movie if no change has been made as to who will portray Nina Simone. This is not a diss to Zoe Saldana. She is an excellent actress, but this movie role so much bigger than her undeniable talent.”

Here’s some social media commentary: