Recently, India Arie opened up about the casting of Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone and the fact that Saldana had to wear heavy makeup in order to darken her skin. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, she expanded on why the casting choice was “tone-deaf.”
During the interview, Arie spoke to the importance that Simone held as a visible dark-skinned woman and the importance, therefore, that the casting held.
“What made Nina Simone my hero is that I had never seen anyone in the public eye who looked anything like me at all, ever. When you think about the way that we as human beings can inspire each other by being able to be our authentic selves, to deny someone who looks like Nina Simone the opportunity to play her is sad. It would have been important and impactful had they made a movie about Nina Simone where the actress really looked like her. It would have changed someone’s life, I think. She changed my life just by looking the way she looked,” she said.
Still, she was reluctant to blame Saldana for taking on the role.
“I don’t know her and I don’t think she did anything wrong. If I were in her shoes and I admired Nina Simone the way that I hear she does, I would have said yes, too, and I don’t even think I can act. If they asked me to sing Nina Simone, I got that. But I never pursued it because I felt it was not my place. And I don’t know if it was her place to do that,” she said.
Check out the rest of the interview here.