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Folks on social media have had a lot to say about the long-awaited Nina Simone biopic starring Zoe Saldana after the controversial release of the film’s poster Tuesday and the trailer on NBC’s TODAY early Wednesday morning.

Some are outraged that Zoe Saldana is donning what appears to be blackface or a ‘mud mask’ for her portrayal of the legendary blues singer.

Nina has been in limbo since 2011 but was acquired last year for distribution by RLJ Entertainment and finally has a theatrical and VOD release date of April 22.

Saldana has yet address the new wave of criticism for her portrayal of Simone; however, Traci Blunt, EVP of Marketing and Corporate Affairs for RLJ Entertainment, stood by her company’s decision to move forward with releasing the film.

Blunt says Saldana’s skin was not darkened in post-production for the film’s key art, which was released Tuesday, and pointed out that the image is “a screen capture from the film.”

'Nina' film poster

Blunt added that RLJ Entertainment was not in any way involved with the production of the film.

Wednesday, Nina Simone was trending on Twitter as a result of the negative criticism of Saldana’s darkened complexion revealed in the film’s trailer.

Blunt says people shouldn’t be outraged by how Saldana looks but instead should support Nina.

“Why is there Backlash?” Blunt asks. “We should be celebrating the fact that Nina Simone’s story is being told and that Zoe [Saldana] has done a wonderful job portraying the incomparable Nina Simone in the film.”

Along with the poster and trailer, RLJ Entertainment gave an official synopsis of the movie:

She was one of the century’s most extraordinary talents, a 15-time Grammy nominee and Grammy Hall of Fame Recipient; her mesmerizing songs and passionate politics combined to make her the unforgettable Nina Simone (Zoe Saldana). But fame and fortune came with a price, and her later years were riddled with depression, alcohol abuse and isolation. Rediscovering the meaning of her life and work took courage, strength and one true friend: Clifton Henderson (David Oyelowo), the man who started out as her assistant and eventually became her loyal manager. With Clifton’s encouragement, the “high priestess of soul” began a courageous journey back to her music … and, eventually, herself.

 

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