Check out more from the enlightening interview here.
In 2012, the singer penned a letter to Simone’s fan site after the first images of Saldana showed her in darker makeup and a fake nose. After watching an early version of the film, .Aire spoke to The Hollywood Reporter on what was done right and why Nina’s appearance is bigger than the public may think. The singer also explained why claims of Saldana not being “black enough” isn’t correct.
“It’s messy to put it that way,” she said. “I think the best way to say it is that they cast her against type and went too far to make her fit. It’s not my place to say how Zoe Saldana perceives herself, and I can’t say how anybody else perceives her either. In my open letter, I called it “black(er) face.” I didn’t know what to call it either. I have heard that there were black actors who played blackface, back when people did that. I think blackface was putting charcoal on your face and doing a certain type of act on stage, the shucking and jiving. You could be black or white. [The Nina portrayal] is a caricature. You had to put a whole other face on someone’s face.”
.Aire didn’t place blame on the actress for the aesthetics of her role, but says the film reminds her of the Oscar-nominated documentary What Happened Miss Simone?
“I saw a very early, early version in 2013, so I don’t know what they ended up doing, but it was a lot like the feel that you got from watching the Nina Simone documentary,” she said. “She was troubled, she was institutionalized, she had addictions. It doesn’t go into her childhood and things like that. It was just a story about her and the butler, and I guess his perception about what happened when he was with her.”
The most thorough view of the film comes from how appearance plays into the movie. While other actors have matched their roles (ie: Jennifer Lopez as Selena, Jessie Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg).Aire says Simone’s looks were a part of her leaps and debatable setbacks in her career. In other words, an actress who faced the same troubles may or may not bring another perspective to the film.
“It would have been important and impactful had they made a movie about Nina Simone where the actress really looked like her,” she explained. “It would have changed someone’s life, I think. She changed my life just by looking the way she looked. Nina Simone made me feel like I existed. And wouldn’t it be amazing if that happened to someone else?”