Zoe Saldana on Nina Simone critics: 'I’m not here to get the acceptance of everyone'
Zoe Saldana’s portrayal of legendary jazz singer Nina Simone in an upcoming film is the latest biopic role to receive heavy backlash.
In Saldana’s case, controversy came from fans who criticized her for being cast in the lead role — but in a new interview with Monarch Magazine, the actress says she responded by simply dismissing their disapproval.
“Nina was a true genius and an iconic artist. It was a dream job for me,” she told the magazine. “I loved the complexity of Nina and her beauty that she expressed with her music. I wanted to do right by her and knew it would be challenging.”
Saldana revealed that she went through heavy training and preparation to master the role and shared that she dedicated months to heavy research and even took piano and voice lessons to grasp Simone’s musical talent.
In doing so, she addressed the significance of the role and the controversy surrounding it:
The Nina Simone story needed to be told, and I’m really blessed that I did it. I’m human. I wish I was made of steel and so certain things wouldn’t affect me. So it did affect me, but I couldn’t let that deter me from doing what I needed to do.
Just like everybody else, I feel very strongly about Nina Simone, and that was a story that needed to be told. I do believe that if everybody had more information about how this all came to be, it might help; but then again, I’m not here to get the acceptance of everyone — I’m here to be an artist first. Hopefully, people will enjoy the film and I helped shed some light on this amazing icon.
Aside from the backlash from fans on Saldana’s casting, more drama surrounds the biopic.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the director of the film, Cynthia Mort, filed a lawsuit against the film’s producer claiming she was left out of certain key decisions — and as a result is not pleased with the direction of the film.
She is seeking monetary damages as well as “a declaration that the defendants can’t make decisions without her meaningful approval and consultation.”
A release date for the film has not yet been set.
Follow Lilly Workneh on Twitter @Lilly_Works