India.Arie Speaks Out Against Nina Simone Biopic Casting


Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone

The Biopic on jazz singer Nina Simone has hit a sour note for India.Arie. The R&B singer recently came out against the film’s producers for casting Zoe Saldana to play the role of Simone, whose dark skin and wide nose stands in sharp contrast to Saldana’s features.

India.Arie posted her thoughts to after seeing a picture of Saldana in costume for her role in the film Nina.

Here’s what India.Arie had to say about the situation:

“So today I saw the images of Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone..
AND I THINK THEY ARE RIDICULOUS! Yes there should be a movie made, and YES they should have chosen someone who LOOKS like Nina Simone, ESPECIALLY since her RACE played such a PIVOTAL role in WHO, WHAT and WHY, she was.

THAT ASIDE for a second, this just looks WEIRD, it looks like a person in Blacker face with a fake nose … REALLY?!!!! DOES NOT THE ONE NINA SIMONE’S LEGACY DESERVE BETTER THAN THIS?”

If I ever FELT I was truly CALLED to play her, I would. And maybe Zoe Saldana REALLY is BEING CALLED SPIRITUALLY TO PLAY THIS ROLE … But I DO NOT LIKE these PICTURES. AT ALL.”

If I’m not mistaken, I do believe I read India Arie saying she would take the role to play Nina Simone if asked — and I think India Arie would play a perfect Nina Simone, but I’m not always right. So I’d like to know your thoughts…

Nina Simone Biopic


  1. Poor Zoe. Poor gal can’t catch a break. Nina is not Jesus … Get over it. Instead of black people always complaining why not come together financially and Make better Nina Simone movie? Stop telling the white man what to do with his money and learn to put your own money where your mouths is.

    • So true however with all that money, why couldn’t they find someone, who resembled Nina somewhat, as oppose to someone, who does not?

      • Because black folks will eat any kind of shit put in front of us, AND PAY FOR IT TOO!

        Boycott this movie, watch it go down in flames. Look at history to the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

        If we vote with our pocketbooks, we won’t be erased.

        • Co sign 100%. Stop this BS. I really must take my emotions out of this to get my point across. Just as other minorities have had their images erased on screen and launched complaints so will we (I hope). As anon said we must boycott this movie and let them know this is not ok. This is not about Zoe being a good actress or not, this is about having to fake a look when there are so many others available that are better no make over needed. Look at that picture, Zoe doesn’t even look black. Instead she looks like she got a makeover from Kmart at a blue light special. I for one will not pay one red cent to watch this mess. But for those that must I say steal it. Don’t put one penny in their pockets. Enough is enough.

        • There are more important things to boycott like monsato needing to pull gmo’s out of all of our supermarkets cuz its making our country sick. Get yall priorities in order.

          • WELL GotDamn!! If I had any opinion about this articles…You slapped that right out my mind…that was a true dose of some Truth! There are bigger fights to fight out here.

            • @tawny and tgcfrugal:

              And why can’t we do both by thinking outside the box???

              Damn, it is your pocketbook, you can refrain from spending your money on two things simultaneously, can’t you??

            • I agree with you, tgcfrudal. While I believe people of color need to protect our images, why are too many of us more concerned about a woman being made up to resemble someone (which Hollywood does all the time), rather than being concerned with our ACTUAL images.

              Black folks will flock to websites to post derogatory comments about other usually more successful Black folks. Is anyone boycotting Bossip, MTO, TMZ when they slander Black people (i.e. Kevin Clash) or even HSK when Jacky goes out of his way to drag Black people (usually women) through the mud? Of course not.

              I’m far more concerned about Black people playing house, bearing the majority of Black children out of wedlock. I’m concerned about the number of financially illiterate Black people in this country who are targeted by corporate Amerikkka via new sneaker, cell phone and album releases. I am concerned about the disproportionate number of QUALITY schools/academies in predominately minority neighborhoods. Boycott liquor stores and demand grocery stores, complete with fresh produce and lean cuts of meat so Black people can bid adieu to diabetes, hypertension and obesity. Demand bookstores and newsstands in the “hood”. Stop perpetuating the stereotype that, if you want to hide something from a Black person, put it in a book.

              We have REAL motherf*cking issues to address and resolve. I can give a rat’s d*ck about Nina Simone or who portrays her. Keenan Thompson can play Nina Simone for all I care.

              File this bullsh*t under “yet another thing the white man used to keep the easily distracted Black race divided”. Get some health insurance so you can get those Ritalin and Adderall prescriptions you (general) so desperately need. Focus on what is important — like 40 of the 50 U.S. states filing secession petitions to free themselves from the union. Wake the hell up.

    • No matter how much money you have in Hollywood to do a movie …your movie has to be Hollywood approved therefore approved for distribution by a major movie house….think about it. When was the last time you saw an epic film about blacks in America that had nothing to do with slavery. Money is not the answer to everything, we have to start ignoring the BS they throw at us… Like someone said vote with ur pocket. They are trying to wipe black women off the planet through images…so most including her own men and children think the worse of her…. Nina Simone was just not a singer but a powerful representation of black beauty and divinity. They don’t pick just anyone to play Queen Elizabeth, why should we settle for less. WAKE UP. They could have found a way more talented actress …ask Adepero Oduye

    • You sound just like white people. That’s like Romney saying that young people could just ask their parents for $10k to help them start a business, etc… The bottom line is: you obviously don’t know Nina’s story or her struggles and you really don’t know how this movie shit works. White folks are on this making movies about soul singers-kick and it won’t be OUR story. They’ll always point out drug use and negative shit…always gotta be the savior of black folks. This is not a complaint, you fuck! This is out and out disrespect. However, I don’t expect you or those like you to understand things like that. The perpetrator of such evil never understands it when it’s pointed out to them.

  2. Yes! Let’s speak with our dollars. I won’t be seeing it at all and that is my little way of protesting in a big way. They want my dollars but won’t be getting one red cent.

  3. Zoe Saldano, or whatever her name is, is not the only black woman that can play this role. I think it is a disgrace for the white woman who cast her to assume she does not have to do Ms. Simone justice.

    Hell will freeze over before this movie gets one cent of my money.

  4. This is not the actual bipic..this is based on the book her personal assistant wrote which is why her family is up in arms but really have no say in this be honest Viola Davis would be PERFECT and even India..hell bring MJB back if it’s that serious but Zoe for one is too pretty for the role, too light, too skinny and she still has traces of her accent..this is a total miscast..i know controversy sells normally..but not this time..this movie will bomb

    • You sound just like white people. That’s like Romney saying that young people could just ask their parents for $10k to help them start a business, etc… The bottom line is: you obviously don’t know Nina’s story or her struggles and you really don’t know how this movie shit works. White folks are on this making movies about soul singers-kick and it won’t be OUR story. They’ll always point out drug use and negative shit…always gotta be the savior of black folks. This is not a complaint, you fuck! This is out and out disrespect. However, I don’t expect you or those like you to understand things like that. The perpetrator of such evil never understands it when it’s pointed out to them.

      And, for the one that said, “too pretty”…SCREW YOU!

  5. It’s Hollywood, people. They cast whomever has name recognition to get folks in those seats. Zoe is an actress in the vain of Beyonce. No bueno.

  6. Angela and Laurence looked nothing like Ike &Tina (especially Ike. That was one ugly crispy critter) but they performance made u think they were Ike and Tina. Mary J is not a good actress at all and I wish singers and rappers stop trying to cross over to acting. At least 90% of they time their acting is horrible. Maybe a lot of the black women in Hollywood turned down the role because Nina Simone is considered unattractive in Hollywood. If they were doing a piece on Dianna Ross or Diane Carol (two iconic beautiful women of color) I bet you all of black Hollywood women would be coveting the roles. So its kinda like a double edge sword here, no one wins!

          • Oh so gay world rule no. 1:

            Don’t ever diss Ms. Ross to a black queen; that will get you cut. Most of them model themselves on her.

            Oh so gay world rule no. 2:
            Don’t ever diss Judy Garland to a gay queen;that will get you knocked out. Most of them pray to her.

            Anyone know who is the female icon for the Latino queens?

    • Its not a double edge sword, its the same as liz taylor playing cleopatra…imagery is VERY important & they know this…the message sent by picking a more eurocentric looking zoe saldana is that black women are ugly which is exactly what Nina Simone fought in her career, her looks were a HUGE part of her legacy, so to pick an actress whom lacks afrocentric features is an insult & a disgrace!! There is a reason black women are wearing eave down their butt, fake finger nails, nose jobs…its because of this type of eurocentric imagery which creates self-hate & is definitely a problem!!

      • I don’t see how Zoe Saladano looks “Eurocentric.” Blacks complain about everything but what matters. Mary J has white features more so than Zoe, so why is she OK to play her and not Zoe? There are countless half white people you gladly accept as black and you don’t call them “Eurocentric.” There are countless white looking black people who are not half and half and you don’t complain, so why complain about this? Shit, most blacks don’t even know who Nina Simone is (I don’t and I only heard of her when the Fugees mentioned it) and this would not be an issue.

        Zoe Saldana looks as black as the next woman to me. No one complained about Jasmine Guy and her roles. No one complain when tow of Bill Cosby’s TV daughters were half white and looked nothing like the parents. No one complains when Tyler Perry always has hlaf white or light skinned women as the lead beauty in his films while the dark ones are old or for comic relief. No one complains about these black guy making MORE mulattoes with white women to further dilute the blackness. No one complains when blacks women wear straight wigs, straighten their hair or do ANYTHING to disguise their natural hair in order NOT to look black do you?

        Everything blacks do (in their subconscious) is to NOT look black and to look white. The only thing blacks (most) seems to like about being black is what whites admire about blacks even if it is not said, which is we don’t have to tan, our lips and our being cool, being known for big things and dominating sports. Other than that, we hate ourselves. The main things that we hate are our hair and noses because they are not like the white man’s. Although yesterday, I saw this blond white man with a big ass nose and some big ass lips!

        Blacks have to decide if the half breeds are black or not regardless, or if all blacks are black. If all blacks are black, then who cares who plays who as long as they look like them? Zoe’s nose is wide and she is as black as the next woman – she is just hispanic. You don’t mind Alfonso Rieberio, Miguel Nunez, Arthur Schomberg, Mr. Magic, AZ, Fabolus, Karl Kani or any other black hispanic! I know, they do not mind being black or being called black unlike most. Yeah, many hispanics (Rosie Perez) like to act like they are not black are are some white that we are supposed to go back generations to find, so they should not take our roles since they would not have any otherwise. I don’t mind it as long as these people declare their BLACKNESS! The sooner all former slaves drop the cultural barriers, then we can build.

        • It is about casting, not the psychological damage to black self-image.

          And many blacks see the racial self-hatred in these black male/white (Asian) female relationships. We just glad their sick self-hatin asses ain’t with us.

          • Well, they do cast people with certain looks to get certain points across. For instance, when was the last time that you saw a film with African-Americans and East Indians on the screen at the same time where the East Indians were darker than the AA’s? I’ll be waiting…

            They make sure that AA’s are darker than the Indians so that they can call AA’s black and Indians something other than black. If they showed Indians as darker than the AA’s, then they would have to explain some things. Of course it is no surprise that many of us have always asked ourselves why we are called black but Indians, who can be darker than us on average are not called black. The answer is in the numbers and allies…

            • Unless you are in the UK, where Indians have only recently been referred to as Asian, before they were black.

              Yes, I get what Hollywood is trying to do. We don’t have to pay to see it, let them blow millions on this and then lose millions more.

        • You sound as stupid as you probably look. Zoe has Eurocentric features, unless you lack an understanding of what that means? Mary could never be mistaken for European and wouldn’t get a role playing opposite white men as Zoe does…OFTEN! Your ignorance gives you no leverage on this topic…when you don’t or didn’t even know who Nina was. The Fugees, just like me, would have revoked your black card! What u said is just some quintessential nigga-shit.

        • Not true Josh, many afro Latinos do not want to be called black. They deny African ancestry because white Latinos make them feel ugly.

    • Adepero Oduye would have gladly taken the role… Laurence and Angela did not wear prosthetics to play Ike and Tina besides Zoe is NOT on their acting level…Laurence and Angela are trained thespians, Zoe was discovered as a dancer…SMH a lot of young folk can’t tell real actors from entertainers, real singers from entertainers, Zoe acting is believable but I won’t be in line to see her do Shakespeare. Do you see just any actress casted as playing Queen Elizabeth the 1st??and Ms. Simone was a far more noble woman the she and much better looking!! If this was a thespian like Daniel Day Lewis playing Abraham when he is not an American I would be cool despite her look. But Zoe is not that type of actress, so what are they really trying to do?

      • Bingo!
        If Zoe was a real actress who did not look the part of the non-fictional character she was playing, no one would give it a second thought.

        But Zoe is a second tier dancer turned actress (and Im being kind with the second tier)who is given this role to play someone she looks nothing like.

        So thats my question also….So what are they doing and why are their doing this…Cerainly not for the ACTING CHOPS.

        tHEY’re OBVIOUSLY doing it for another more subtle reason.

  7. Zoe is not our sister. She does not want to be Black. That is the main reason she has no business playing this role.

  8. There are no competent black actreses who could play this part?

    Zoe is not black….Not because she isnt actually black by DNA, but she culturally categorizes herself based on the island where the slave ships dropped her family off and mixed in with them by force…She’s Dominican and claims Dominican like most Dominicans do.

    They should have given the role to that lady who played in the Help…She wouldnt have even needed blackface.

  9. She’s supporting the legacy of Nina Simone…can you imagine if someone put on a prosthetic nose, teeth & black make-up to play you or your mother??? Would you really be happy with something like that or would you feel insulted?? Charlize Theron wore facial prosthetics in the movie MONSTER…

  10. I don’t like this role for Zoe, its like they didn’t even tried to find a suitable person, Zoe features does not add up to Nina Simone.

  11. I think the best person to play Legendary Nina Simone would be Kimberly Elise. Now Who, What, Where, and Why Who Know. Sad But True you cannot blame this on “Hollywood” this is simply the mentally of how some Individual African Americans envisioned themselves. At one point Aretha Franklin wanted Halle Berry to play her. Really? Terrance Howard as Nelson Mandela. Really? What bothers me is the “Class” of African Americans who create “Black Hollywood” because many do not realize if it was not for Blaxploitation movies the Movie Industy of Hollywood was on the verge of Bankruptcy.

    We are living in a World were not only African Americans but many are so disconnected not only with their own Culture and History but disconnected period! This is many other examples will continue to prosper in this Country as we many are trying to have their own “American Dream” without knowing if they are sleeping in North America, South America or the New Americas.

    • You will always be preaching it and many will just ignore it. Those whose heads that are not in the sand and alarmed get where you are coming from.

      Kim Elise to me would be better for this part. You dont see a black man playing a role as Abraham Lincoln now do you?

  12. Are you stupid… or just a brainwashed! Its people like you who make it bad for the rest of us.


  13. It’s like casting Lindsay Lohan as Elizabeth Taylor. It makes no sense. What India said was basically how most people feel and if they were smart they’d shelve and recast the project. No offense to Zoe but stay in your lane doll.

  14. I see everybody’s take on this however,I think it’s great that Nina Simone will be reintroduced to the world via a movie.The exposure will hopefully get people interested in who this beautiful woman was,and everything about her.

    Zoe is a sister,it can be debated if she knows it.We need to stop acting spurned and just show her love and wish her well.She will get the wake up moment like they all do.

  15. What disturbs me is that makeup, it is very racist as in blackface. It is despicable to insult our race of beautiful black people by putting on that uneven black face makeup. This is 2012, and we still have to deal with that racist Blackface makeup as if we are back in the koon days. When is enough enough. Thats right boycott this shit and speak up on how despicable they are in trying to descredit our beauty, our smarts, and our talents. This is a new day, and it is time for us to take a stand and quit be passive!

  16. The more I look at that pic of Zoe, it reminds me of Beyonce in blk face. It just doesn’t look natural to me.

  17. No. India not black enough either. Considering who controls and owns Hollywood, why are they still not embracing true blackness? They need someone who could act with the looks of that little rapper Azalea.

  18. Total and complete blasphemy!!! But can any of you say you’re surprised? I’m not. This is typical hollywood fuckery. I remember back when they announced they were going to make terry mcmillan’s disappearing acts and all the women at my job said that the character in the book was a heavyset black woman. And they all said now watch them get some skinny girl to do it. Lo and behold-sanaa lathan-who according to them looks nothing like the girl in the book. There is no question zoe saldana was the wrong choice for this role and she looks like a cross between aunt jemima and al jolson in that pic. Were there other actresses who were better suited for that role color wise? Of course but hollywood has a respect for one thing only-money. So if you don’t like it don’t go see it. We speak with our movie going dollar so if hollywood isn’t making what we like then we need to keep our money in our pockets. By the way the reason she got the role is cuz we don’t speak up until it’s too late. You can bet if the latino community had been told a white actress was going to play selena they would have shut that movie down until a latina was hired. They’ve done it before. If the black community had raised enough hell when they announced her as nina BEFORE filming began change would have been made! But here we sit again complaining after the fact. Black folks-late again. Smdh

  19. when this movie comes out dont boycott it.
    Just ignore it. It’ll go away in 14 days if you dont give it your ENERGY, one way or the other. Just ignore it.

  20. Why in the world would they cover her in head to toe chocolate makeup to play the role, when there are so many other talented women who are competent enough to play the role and who naturally look more like Nina. This sort of reminds me of Aretha wanting Halle B to play her in a biopic, it just doesn’t work.

    • The same reason why they wont hire dark brown skinned black women in music videos. The same reason why the lead singer of a girl group is usually the one thats half white or very light skinned.The same reason you rarely see a dark skinned black actress playing the wife or girlfriend of an obviously black leading man actor (except Denzel who has the clout to demand Kimberly Elise and a couple of other dark brown skinned actresses in some of his films)..When Eddie or Martin or Will has a leading role in a movie their significant other is usually a white latina or a woman with at least one white parent…Would those 20% of white Americans who voted for Obama would have voted for him had he not had at least one white parent?

      “They”, who control the media are phasing the image of the black woman out of the global mind and replacing her with the mixed race womans image as representing black…Its been a consistent and subtle transformatin that few even bat an eye at anymore and everyone pretty much accepts it as normal now…Kinda like a frog being slowly boiled in cold water very serenely.

      • @anonymous20:41-excellent points all but we must begin to take responsibility for being part of the problem. Like you said if the wills and martins followed the example set by denzel things would change. We can’t continue to blame THEY when WE are the enemy as well. When rappers like wale(a dark skinned black man)makes a video called pretty girls with not ONE dark skinned sistah in it and yung berg make vile comments about dark skinned black women we can’t blame they-that’s us. And until we address these issues of color we will continue to get the same treatment from hollywood. There are people trying to do it. If any of you haven’t seen it already I urge you to see bill duke’s documentary DARK SKIN GIRLS. He talks to dark skinned women about their experiences with color prejudice. It is a must see.

        • Maybe Will or Martin dont care and thats part of the reason why they were selected by “them” for fame.

          Lets be real here…Look at Eddie Murphy’s and Martin Lawrences wives..Both hof the wives (now ex-wives) had at least one white parent…

          Denzel was able to sneak through in the early 80’s mostly based on his acting ability and training…Eddie and Martin were comics who felt lucky to be in the movies…Denzel is a thespian who can call a few shots here and there. But he doesnt have any real power either but Directors are eager to work with him because he makes their films better and easier to market$

      • Agreed. Black people have a lot of responsibility in this. If a dark brown black woman can’t even get a lead part in a black mans video or a movie a Black man is producing then why would we expect anything different from white people. Dark skinned women have been started to be fazed out and it first started with black men. We as black people have to clean up our own back yard before we can demand anything from our neighbors.

  21. Ever seen an old cowboy and indian movie? white dudes with blackface and Indian wigs. Fuggin hilarious.

  22. I would not have had a problem if they did not get into the make up part, which looks foolish. If you notice, there has been an up swing in black face lately in Hollywood. Did you see that episode of 2 Broke Girls with Cedric? They basically called him a coon to his face and he smiles. This film should be boycotted, but what I wrote above was more about people acting like blacks are only black when they have ENglish, French or Arabic names, but Spanish and anything else is not.

  23. fUCK, lets get real about this. If you are gonna put an actress in blackface, why not put Meryl Streep or Glenn Close in black face, head wrap and lip puffing injections? They are much better trained actresses than Zoe Saldana (dancer). If its really about the best acting to pull off the best film…But obviously theres another message trying to be conveyed here.

    • Agreed. Ms. Streep is a great actress and if we are going to use fake body parts, skin, and hair then we might as well put it on a better actress.

  24. You want to know more about Nina Simone read her biography or even better yet , her autobiography, if available.

    Ignore the bs and READ A BOOK.



  26. Can Zoe sing??? Is Mike Epps in this movie too? I am not a fan of his. He is in everything… overrated not funny in comedies…gets same dry performance in dramas.