Zoe Saldana Too Light-Skinned To Play Nina Simone: Petition
By Christopher Zara | September 14, 2012 1:49 AM EST
Picking an actor for a big-budget music biopic is never without its share of clamor (Johnny Cash fans are still recovering from Joaquin Phoenix), but news that "Star Trek" star Zoe Saldana is on board to play the soul singer Nina Simone has brought with it a weightier shade of controversy.
An online petition was posted to the website Change.org calling on the filmmakers to re-cast the role of Simone with an actress whose complexion more closely matches that of the legendary singer's.
"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," the petition said.
Saldana, 34, is known for her roles in "Avatar" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl." She is of mixed Dominican and Puerto Rican heritage, and grew up in the Northeast.
Simone was born to an African-American family in North Carolina.
As the New York Times reported on Wednesday, the casting flap has attracted the attention of the blogosphere. One blogger, Tiffani Jones, called the decision an "erasure" of Nina Simone's image, which is part of a larger pattern of denying roles to darker-skinned black women. "Hollywood and the media have a tendency to whitewash and lightwash a lot of stories, particularly when black actresses are concerned," she told the Times.
On Twitter, sentiments among some users were similar. While tweeters were quick to praise Saldana's acting skills, most thought she was simply wrong for the role. Some even offered their own casting suggestions.
Others seemed to think the controversy itself was much ado about nothing. Jeff Cox, as reporter for CNBC, tweeted in response to the New York Times article that it's "incredible the idiotic things people [occupy] their time with."
The online petition has already been signed by more than 2,200 users. It was posted by Demeriese Valier, a 28-year-old from Baton Rouge, La., according to her profile. Valier is asking for 500,000 signatures before the petition is sent to executive producer Jimmy Iovine and writer/director Cynthia Mort.
Simone, who rose to prominence in the 1950s, was known as the High Priestess of Soul. She became an outspoken civil-rights advocate in the 1960s, but fled to France in her later years after troubles with the International Revenue Service. She died in that country in 2003.
The biopic of Simone's life, titled "Nina," had been plagued by cash-flow problems before Saldana signed on for the role. No release date is set for the film.
To contact the editor, e-mail:
Most Popular Slideshows
- Still The World Champions: Team USA Overpowers Serbia, 129-92 To Win 2014 FIBA World Cup [PHOTOS]
- From Fat To Fit: Celebrities Who Were Overweight Before They Became The Beauties That They Are
- Kendall Jenner Could Be Next Victoria's Secret Angel [PHOTOS]
- Taylor Swift Named People's Best Dressed Stars Of 2014 [PHOTOS]
Join the Conversation
- ‘America’s Got Talent’ (AGT) Season 9 (2014) Finale Performance Episode Recap, Spoilers: 6 Finalists Perform Their Last Acts To Win Finals
- ‘Dancing With The Stars’ (DWTS) Season 19 (2014) Winner Predictions: Fellow Contestants And Betting Odds Predict Who Could Win Mirror Ball Trophy
- ‘American Horror Story’ Season 4 ‘Freak Show’ Update: Skyler Samuels Roped In To Play Pivotal Role, Extended Teaser Released [VIDEO]
- Robert Pattinson And FKA Twigs Romance: Singer’s Twitter Post Sparks Pregnancy Reports Speculating The Couple Is Expecting Their First Baby
- ‘The Big Bang Theory’ Season 8 Spoilers: Nine Moments From Episode 1, The Locomotion Interruption
- iOS 8 Release Date Of Sept 17 Has Arrived: Update Begins At 10AM Pacific Time, Upgrade Your iDevices With iOS 7.1.2 First To Install iOS 8
- Why Samsung Galaxy S5 Is Not The Best Smartphone To Purchase Now? If You Still Want To, Wait For A Month To Get It Cheap
- Apple iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3 October Release Date Roundup: Freshly Leaked Protective Case Debuts Unique Vent Alongside Camera
- Canadian IS Jihadist Wants to ‘Play Soccer’ with Heads of US Decapitated Soldiers
- Warning to U.S. – ISIS Has Shot Down a Syrian Regime Fighter Jet
- Spice Dream Uno vs Xiaomi Redmi 1S: Android One Smartphone to Challenge The Existing Budget Friendly Smartphone
- iPhone 6 Plus Phablet Features Only 1 GB RAM