Zoe Saldana may be gearing up for the release of Star Trek Beyond, but she held no bars when asked about her controversial portrayal of Nina Simone in the recently released biopic Nina. “There’s no one way to be black,” the Afro-Latina said in an interview with Allure.
The Dominican and Puerto Rican actress fell under heavy criticism the moment news went out about her casting in 2012. Many were offended that the actress would agree to wearing “blackface” and a prosthetic nose to portray the legendary singer while questioning why the role didn’t go to a black actress who bore more likeness to Simone.
Saldana stayed relatively mum about the debate on her blackness—until now. “You have no idea who I am. I am black. I’m raising black men. Don’t you ever think you can look at me and address me with such disdain,” she continued.
The mic didn’t fully drop there, as she went on to question society’s perception of beauty. “I never saw her as unattractive. Nina looks like half my family!” she said. “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?”
In spite of the backlash, Saldana has no regrets about her decision to follow through with the film. “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.'”
Although the film didn’t debut to any critical acclaim, Saldana writes Nina as a win in her book. “The fact that we’re talking about her, that Nina Simone is trending? We f**king won. For so many years, nobody knew who the f**k she was. She is essential to our American history. As a woman first, and only then as everything else.”