In an interview for the July issue of InStyle magazine, Zoe Saldana addressed concerns that she was too light-skinned to play the part of Nina Simone in the upcoming biopic Nina.
“I didn’t think I was right for the part, and I know a lot of people will agree, but then again, I don’t think Elizabeth Taylor was right for Cleopatra either,” she said in the interview.
“An artist is colorless, genderless… It’s more complex than just ‘Oh, you chose the Halle Berry look-alike to play a dark, strikingly beautiful, iconic black woman.’ The truth is, they chose an artist who was willing to sacrifice herself. We needed to tell her story because she deserves it.”
The comment about Elizabeth Taylor playing Cleopatra was a reference to Saldana’s own response to critics who said that actor Michael B. Jordan, who is black, should not have been cast as the comic book character Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, who is blonde with blue eyes in the comics.
“If we question why Michael has been cast to play the Human Torch in Fantastic Four then we must also question why Elizabeth Taylor played Cleopatra, why Angelina Jolie played Mariane Pearl in a Mighty Heart, why Laurence Olivier played Othello, Burt Lancaster in Apache, and the list goes on….and on….”
After years in limbo, Nina is slated to hit theaters by the end of 2015.