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Confirmed! Zoe Saldana Will Play Nina Simone In Biopic + Some Realities To Consider...

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by Tambay A. Obenson
August 16, 2012 10:00 AM
98 Comments
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Well folks... for those who wanted more *credible* sources to our story from earlier this week (read it HERE) that Zoe Saldana was attached to play Nina Simone in a film based on the songstress' life, here you go! 

The Hollywood Reporter is confirming our story that Zoe Saldana is indeed going to play Nina Simone in Cynthia Mort's film. It's a done deal people!

But let me add one quick note to address several comments I've read about the project - specifically, this isn't a Hollywood production. I've read several comments, and articles on other sites, calling it a Hollywood movie. But it's really not. By that I mean, it's not backed by any Hollywood studio. Instead, the company behind it is a UK-based studio called Ealing.

And its stated mission is to produce and distribute "commercial films to the global market ranging from star-driven US independent productions, to intelligent British and European movies and genre product targeted at core theatrical audiences."

Films on their slate have budgets that range usually in the $7 - 10 million range, which means we can assume this project will likely cost somewhere around there.

So there's a chance that you might not even get to see the film - at least not right away. It'll likely hit the Euro market first, and then head west.

But a KEY point in all this that you should consider is that, this isn't a film that's being made specifically for American audiences. I liken it to the Jennifer Hudson Winnie Mandela biopic - a film that's been complete for at least a year now, but still hasn't made its way to the USA yet, after debuting at the Toronto International Film Festival last fall, even though it stars Hollywood actors (although, like this upcoming Nina Simone film, wasn't backed by a Hollywood studio). I'd expect this Nina Simone film to take a somewhat similar path.

But THR says that an October production start date is expected. Apparently Mary J. Blige moved on because financing for the project was hard to come by. This suggests that there's a chance that with Zoe Saldana attached, financiers found her a stronger international sell than Mary J. Blige, and so, here we are.

What I'm really curious about now, is who else may have been considered for the role, how Zoe became the chosen one - whether she approached them, or they approached her. I suppose all of this will eventually come to light... at least I hope so.

At this point, I have absolutely no idea what to expect from this, and will need to see and know more before commenting. 

But be sure to read Vanessa's review of the film's screenplay, which she posted last night HERE for an idea of what might be coming.

We called it! And it's officially a D.O.N.E. deal. So you may as well start adjusting to the idea... or just wait until you actually see something from it, and then judge it.

Yesterday, Nina Simone's daughter took to Facebook, entering the conversation with this statement: 

Greetings Nina Simone Lovers...Simone here. The rumor mill is once again at work regarding ZOE ZALDANA playing my mother in a biopic...have you heard this? If, so what do you think? I will await your responses before I share my heart.

That Facebook post has received 435 comments as of this posting, and I'd say the majority are anti-Zoe Saldana starring in the film. 

We're still waiting for Simone to share her heart as she stated.

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98 Comments

  • katherine | June 8, 2014 7:56 PMReply

    Hello-

    Kerry Washington would of been a good person to play the bipic. Why do they think all black people look like zoe saldana.

    Is she hard up for money. Because she could always say NO to the part.

    After the family said they don't want her to play the part she should of moved on to another part.

    Thank you

  • mike | December 24, 2012 4:27 PMReply

    this movie going straight to video- no one really cares about zoe , i dont like her -

  • NO BRAINER | September 24, 2012 3:14 PMReply

    Damn! She didn't fall back yet? Well, it's real simple black people. If you hate this idea, protest with your money when the time comes. It's as simple as that.

  • the Heartsleeves | September 24, 2012 2:26 PMReply

    Marianne Jean-Baptiste..
    Viola Davis...

    People just don't get or care who Nina was... Well I hope Zoe faces this project like it is the most important in her life, because it should be. This is one of the most important artists of the last century. Nina deserves a film or more than one.. and I'm sick that they chose a model.. but.. I will give her the benefit of the doubt.

  • DL | August 22, 2012 2:29 PMReply

    kerry washington is well known in europe due to her loreal ads and her notable role in last king of scotland and ray would have been an ideal choice- shes beautiful, marketable most importantly darkskined AND can act. Yes viola or adepero look more like nina but i can understand why they would want a pretty actress to promote the film and i belive kerry fits the bill- plus she coud easily pass for nina just put a head wrap on her ditch the makeup and she's good to go. With kerry as an option its baffling why they went for zoe.

  • T Nails | October 4, 2012 1:46 AM

    Adepero would knock it out of the park. Not only does she look the part but has chops. Kerry Washington, sexy as all get out, but completely wrong for the role. It'd be like having Boris Kojo or Mekhi Phifer play MLK. Nina wasn't about being a vamp, she's about a woman with integrity. Adepero has turned down a lot of work to keep hers intact.

  • Someone | August 22, 2012 4:55 PM

    Who cares? Seriously? Why do you care so much? Let it go.

  • Someone | August 22, 2012 12:46 PMReply

    I called it.. ICM got all those black actresses ( Nicole Beharie, Adepero Oduye, Emayatzy ) to make sure they could control the parts that Zoe will get first. Zoe is their main draw so she will get EVERYTHING first..sorry girls

  • Someone | August 22, 2012 4:54 PM

    You are speaking about the obvious. Hollywood is not as logical as u are...the script could have come IN for Adepero but they gave it to Zoe..what is so difficult about understanding that?

  • Ali | August 22, 2012 1:36 PM

    Zoe Saldana is going to be offered parts and have opportunities before them anyway for many reasons. So why would the agency get and then purposely hold back actresses that aren't on her level yet? In many ways, they aren't even competing with her. They're still building their careers and they are black actresses. One great role in an independent film unfortunately will not dictate where their entire careers will go. ICM will probably not be upset if Nicole Beharie starts breaking out like Zoe Saldana did so I doubt this.

  • Princess Sarah | August 21, 2012 9:25 PMReply

    You African American women complained too darn much. The producers will cast in the role as Nina Simone whom they deem fit. . If you do not like it don't go and see the movie.This is a business and they want to sell this movie. Zoe Saldana will sell tickets. Stop complaining, write your own stories and make your own movie. No one owes you anything. And a good actress can protray anyone.

  • Ava | August 20, 2012 6:06 PMReply

    As someone who studied piano for 10 years and who discovered Simone's virtuosity almost 20 years ago, I can only diplomatically say that I will reserve my right not to bother with this film. I've seen Saldana in other movies and it's not an attack on her personally but unless she is a a gifted pianist and has a haunting strong clear voice that we've yet to hear, I'll venture to say that this is a miscast. I won't bother with this one then.

  • T Nails | October 4, 2012 1:51 AM

    While I think she's wrong for the part, your reasons seem to be devoid of any knowledge of how movies are made. Could Tom Hulce play piano like Mozart? Did Natalie would or Audrey Hepburn actually sing a note in West Side Story or My Fair Lady? She won't be playing or singing a note in this. That's not how films are made.

  • abu | August 19, 2012 2:43 AMReply

    In the words of Dr. Leonard Jeffries, Whoever controls the images, controls your self-esteem, self-respect and self-development. Whoever controls the history, controls the vision."

  • the Heartsleeves | September 24, 2012 2:29 PM

    To true... that is the problem.. people might miss the true majesty of Nina when promoted through a film that doesn't portray her as she was.. :(

  • abu | August 19, 2012 2:26 AMReply

    Whoever controls the images, controls your self-esteem, self-respect and self-development. Whoever controls the history, controls the vision."
    Dr. Leonard Jeffries

  • T Nails | October 4, 2012 1:53 AM

    What a bunch of victimhood clap trap. Real self esteem is earned by your head and hands, not what Hollywood puts up. But that's Jeffrie's hustle, the blame game.

  • abu | August 19, 2012 2:00 AMReply

    It's a affront to all who loved her, knew her, knew of her and were transformed because she was here!

  • Tammy | August 18, 2012 5:36 PMReply

    This is some bull! The Hollywood mentality is all over this and this article is making excuses. The closet to white skin you look the more commercially appealing you are otherwise why not ge t India Aire, Adeporo aduye is hot right now from the Pariah movie, or Marianne jean baptiste. She's a foreign actress. Hell, theres your international appeal!!. America knows her from Without a trace series. This is really disappointing!!!!!

  • DL | August 22, 2012 2:34 PM

    yes marianne i forgot all about her and considering this is a british film she would have been good pick. A real comeback after her tv career and break out role in secrets and lies and what an actress! she's sensational! but if an AA decides to make his/her version maybe she will be on the list of contenders along with all all others mentioned. Imagine if someone like will smith could use his clout and money to make a film like this but i guess we can only dream eh?

  • Nadell | August 17, 2012 12:55 PMReply

    I have one question: If a director wanted to do a bio about Celia Cruz, would that director be inclined to ask Meagan Good to portray her???? And would there be an outrage or cry of 'foul' because of that decision?
    This certainly does not have to be the last film about Nina Simone. Let this director make this film and someone else needs to come around and do another film - one that will involve the singer's family input.

  • Donella | August 17, 2012 4:51 PM

    The most outrage would come from Cubans the same way Mexicans were outraged when Jennifer Lopez (Puerto Rican) portrayed icon Selena.

  • Nadell | August 17, 2012 4:02 PM

    @Vanessa Martinez
    Yes, my point exactly. Good wouldn't be authentic for the portrayal of Cruz just as Saldana isn't for Simone. Not saying these actresses do not possess the talent & skill to take on a role and embody these icons but the sheer aspect of physical appearance is not believeable in casting Saldana for Simone or Good for Cruz. Of course some actors surpass the apparent external differences and actually become a character (ex. Will Smith as Muhammad Ali) but I am certain if someone like Jennifer Lopez decided to make a film about the life of Celia Cruz, Meagan Good would NOT even be considered as a choice.
    Nina Simone and Zoe Saldana do not belong in the same category. On what grounds? Just as much as Meagan Good and Celia Cruz do not belong together.
    In the same token, when Aretha Franklin requested Halle Berry to play her; Berry had the decency to decline that offer. How in the world was Berry going to do Franklin justice in that role?
    I do understand your points of being trained to fully depict- and this is what Jaimie Foxx did for Ray Charles. However, Foxx is an actor who in addition is musically inclined (this is his talent) which absolutely worked in that films favor. But aside from the training (whether needing a dialect coach or dance lessons) to become, why not simply rely on the profound matters? Or to a certain degree depend on physical appearance, resemeblence and similarities.
    When one thinks of Nina Simone or looks at portraits and/or videos or listens to her music, does the name Zoe Saldana first come to mind???

  • Vanessa Martinez | August 17, 2012 1:40 PM

    @Nadell In my perspective, if a director wanted to do a bio about Celia Cruz he would want to cast someone passionate to play her, who can become familiar with the music IN SPANISH, and can obviously embody Celia in speech and dance in the performances. I don't see anything wrong with an African American woman being cast. If Meagan Good prepared and was dancing salsa, singing spanish and yelling out "AZUCAA" without an american accent, I don't see why not..Do I see Meagan doing that? Not really. But then, I don't see Saldana for the role of Simone.

  • Jacetoon | August 16, 2012 9:49 PMReply

    Psst....African American ladies (<---that was deliberate and accurate) the entertainment industrial complex is tryin' to unicorn you. Tell your own stories the rest is just static.

  • B | August 16, 2012 9:47 PMReply

    For all of those who want to suggest that the folks upset about this casting are just haters, answer one question for me (and answer it honestly): would a studio ever cast Gabrielle Union as Lena Horne? *Don't worry. I'll wait...*

  • Khi | August 16, 2012 8:10 PMReply

    If you are outraged about this, as I am, please sign this petition to get this role re-cast and SHARE IT WIDELY!

    http://www.change.org/petitions/jimmy-iovine-cynthia-mort-replace-zoe-saldana-with-an-actress-who-actually-looks-like-nina-simone

  • Alex | August 22, 2012 4:14 PM

    Nope

  • Turner | August 16, 2012 9:24 PM

    too cookoo for coco puffs

  • queenseye | August 16, 2012 7:03 PMReply

    I love Zoe, but like Lauryn Hill was the no brainer choice to play Nina Simone. I mean really does anyone ever think a little longer about the fact Nina Simone was a SINGER. Oh well; like casting Halle Berry as Storm rather than Angela Bassett, another missed opportunity.

  • queenseye | August 16, 2012 7:04 PM

    I didn't mean "but, like, Lauryn Hill...." like a teenager. It should have read, "but Lauryn Hill..."

  • saadiyah | August 16, 2012 5:31 PMReply

    All kidding aside, I would have liked Nicole Beharie to have a shot at this role. I just found out the girl can sing! Check out "My Last Night Without You" on Youtube. I knew Nicole could act when I saw her in "American Violet."

  • Charles Judson | August 17, 2012 10:23 AM

    @Misha You don't have to see it. And I'm not saying that to be insulting. I to an extent agree about casting. Time and time again charts show that in the last 10 to 15 years the highest paid actors who are supposed to be bringing in crowds have some of the lowest returns on investment. Many of those films crawl to break even post-theatrical. While films with low to mid-level tend to do much better and hit profitability before a Studio has to rely on ancillary sales (DVD, streaming, Cable). However, that doesn't mean there isn't truth in looking for better known stars. In attracting financiers, Zoe has a much more complete package than many other stars. COLOMBIANA's success is not just in how much it made but in how many distributors picked it up. Fans may overwhelmingly respond to choice A over choice B. However, that doesn't mean much if distributors have no confidence in A or no experience with A. For a $10 million production, knowing you can easily pick up 5 or 6 distributors on Zoe's name, 10 or more with Zoe's name and Nina's legacy, and maybe more if you hustle, is KEY. Almost no one is going to put up money for a production that can't reliably guarantee that a distributor in Belgium or Denmark will at least be interested in the project. Their are actors working in straight to dvd productions because distributors overseas can still sell their films. DVD here, theatrical overseas. Cobbled together you have a winning formula. These guys aren't stupid. Blind at times definitely. Too often risk averse, MOST DEFINITELY. But not stupid. That they wanted a strong singer in Mary J. who still has at least some name recognition, and has toured Europe, demonstrates that. They could have gone to a Zoe from jump, but they didn't. If we're going to change things, we have to better understand this so we can start developing roles and films for actresses and actors like Anika Noni Rose, or any of the other suggestions, that give them the track record that opens more doors and gets distributors excited and not turned off. Otherwise we'll still be having this conversation 10 years from now, just as we had this conversation 10 years ago about why Black Films don't open overseas.

  • turner | August 17, 2012 12:25 AM

    @Charles Judson... thank you for the truth of the matter. To repeat myself: It's Show "Business"!

  • misha | August 16, 2012 9:49 PM

    "From a business standpoint, Zoe makes a lot of sense." Nope, I don't see it. For one, she's not proven to this big bankable star. Sure Colombiana did relatively well but I'd say that had more to do with promotion/branding, the genre, scale of the film and the people behind it than Zoe herself. This biopic will be the complete opposite of Colombiana, with Zoe being stripped of all those enhancers, having to sell the film primarily on her own and I don't see her being able to do that. Secondly, it's not exactly good business to cast an actor whom I think most would agree is all wrong for the part, thus, turning many off from seeing the film. A "big name" is supposed to make people more excited, not less excited, about seeing a film. At the end of day, I think a film such as this one would create more buzz with actors who could produce great performances than with a more well known actress who more than likely won't be able to deliver the goods. After all, if this film is lambasted and poorly received early on, there's very little hope of it reaching a wider audience. And in that case, casting Zoe will have proven to be utterly pointless.

  • Charles Judson | August 16, 2012 8:29 PM

    When you're looking at making $5 to 100K per territory, $250 to $900k at a mid level, and $1 million to $3 million on the high end, with some territories that may yield some major hits, Big Star becomes a relative. Yet that relativity is an important definition that means something depending on the size of your budget. Just look at the Foreign Box Office for MELANCHOLIA http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=intl&id=melancholia.htm and now TAKERS http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=intl&id=bonedeep.htm. Almost identical hauls, but radically different territories where the films did well and did poorly, with Russia as one of the few overlaps in Box Office. Also note that TAKERS has 6 distributors, with Sony handling most of the territories while MELANCHOLIA has at least 15. Even on her own in COLOMBIANA she did twice the international box office of either those films and the film had at least 20 separate distributors. http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=intl&id=colombiana.htm In the last 10 years financing has changed and constricted even more. You'll hardly find anyone willing to gamble on a film with a $1 to $10 million budget that doesn't already have distribution in place, is a genre pic that can play without stars, or has a level of star or occasionally director that one is confident distributors in various territories can sell. BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD had a $1.3 million budget and quite a bit of that funding came through grants and from what I've read had to be structured as a nonprofit. Dig into the budgets of Sundance films and a vast majority of them have budgets come under $250k and have either no stars or recognizable faces but no names of note, or stars in minor roles (And let's not forget that SAGIndie contracts play role in this on the domestic side). Once you get into the $1 to $10 million range you start to see the level of star power go up. So can they take a risk? Not really if they want to actually get funded at the level they were aiming at. With history as a guide, they could have brought someone else in, however I think you would have seen that budget drop radically from $7 to $10 million to something in the under $3 million range at best. From a business standpoint, Zoe makes a lot of sense. Does that mean she's the best choice? No. Does that make her a bad choice? We won't really know till we see the footage.

  • misha | August 16, 2012 7:00 PM

    Beharie wouldn't be at the top of my list for this role but I think she could pull it off better than Zoe. And let's be real, it's not like this is some big Hollywood production in which investors are pouring hundreds of millions on dollars in it. It's a relatively small budget film that's going to make it debut in Europe, which would have allowed the studio to take more of a risk with an unknown or lesser known actress who would have been better suited for the role. All things considered, Zoe just makes very little sense. It's not as if the woman is even some big star in the UK/Europe.

  • bondgirl | August 16, 2012 5:44 PM

    I was counting the minutes to see when her name would come up. That would be lateral casting to go from Zoe to Nicole. Pretty girl, wrong look, and not enough clout to get 10 mill in financing. She is with the same agency as Zoe & Adepero, but ICM knows she can't get any money out of investors. Sorry, it's not just about being African/Black/DNA, blah blah blah. It's about certain unique features that Nina had confidence in presenting. It would be the same as casting a Barbra Streisand biopic, and getting a white actress (like Nicole Kidman) with an aquiline nose and WASP features....it is destroying the essence of what she meant to so many, especially Black Americans in an era when her looks were symbolic of the Black Power Movement.

  • saadiyah | August 16, 2012 5:20 PMReply

    I suggest Mariah Carey play Nina. She's Black, American, has been nominated for her acting, and can sing. Sounds like a winner to me!

  • LeonRaymond | August 16, 2012 5:11 PMReply

    @CHARLES JUDSON
    Excellent Point!!

  • Anonymous | August 16, 2012 4:51 PMReply

    Stacia L. Brown of Clutch, the online magazine, suggests five very strong actresses who would be far more believeable, for a myriad of reasons, than Zoe in this role. Check out her piece. And I agree with many others that if Zoe sees herself first and foremost as a Latina actress then let her slug it out with the likes of Sophia Vegara, Jennifer Lopez, America Ferrera, Ana Ortiz and others for work. She shouldn't be able to have it both ways. Additionally, I surprised to hear that a UK filmmaker would care about international reach, in terms of the marketing aspect. Since when has the European market ever given a damn about others' perception of their film projects or anything else, for that matter?

  • Alex | August 22, 2012 4:59 PM

    Ealing studios produces a lot of UK and international projects. It's how it makes its money - it's very much important that 'others' perception is taken into account because that is where a lot of the money that keeps the company open comes from, it's business, investments as well as art. I don't know why you're surprised, you need to do your research. Also the lines in the US are so blurred with black people in the US- the majority are all so exotic and boast wonderful mixed heritages. She's Latina but she's a black Latina? does that mean her roots would, at some point, hail from the same place that Nina's would?
    Also it's not that Europeans don't give a damn; they're very aware of what works for their core audiences that somehow never seems to translate in the states; but they also know how to garner the attention of the US by using big names that mean more to you guys then they do to us. A Nina Simone Biopic starring Saldana would probably fair just as well if not better with someone like Adepero Oduye in the role here in the UK. Us Europeans champion independents and understated casting - Zoe in the role seems a little jaded and from the water cooler chatter everyone thinks its Ealings way of kiss arsing American producers. Maybe it will be good - it's certainly getting attention. However Nina Simone was a world famous star, loved by all. So I think everyone is a little baffled about this casting choice. Zoe must truly believe she has something to give by taking it on. She may even be a wonderful singer who knows. Its acting, i'm sure it's part of the job remit to 'rise to the occasion'. So good luck to her, because she's really got a burden on her shoulders to pull it off. As for her being a seasoned actress or not looking like Simone - I get it. But what is this story about? her life before she hit it big? or the whole she-bang from beginning to end?

  • Darkan | August 16, 2012 7:45 PM

    I agree with Charles somewhat but the problem is that when is comes to black talent Europeans don't see us the way everyone else does. That's why there has been an influx of black brits and black Europeans on television and in film. Bad casting choices like the one everyone is spouting about doesn't help.

  • Charles Judson | August 16, 2012 5:06 PM

    INTOUCHABLES made $360 milion worldwide, most of that not in the United States and before it even came state side. On a $8 million budget, Lars Von Trier's MELANCHOLIA made $15 million with only $800k of that coming from his home country and $12 million of that coming from mostly Europe. Filmmakers and distributors most certainly give a damn what's going on in other countries. It's why Cannes, Venice, Toronto and Berlin matter. It's why INTOUCHABLES easy to sell story and featuring Kirsten Dunst as your lead, even if you're Von Trier, matters. If we want to get over the hurdle of Black Films don't play overseas we need to understand the game and work our way around it, not dismiss it out of hand.

  • LeonRaymond | August 16, 2012 4:41 PMReply

    @CAREYCAREY
    My mother use to go see Nina Simone all the time, had photos of her from her days here when she did close door concerts due to the intense scrutiny and pressure from this government.60's Revolutionaries, sitting in the audiences would pull the curiosity of FBI, CIA and others, My older sister who dated Stokley Carmichael was the one who told me how much of a fire brand Nina was. I Love Zoe, love her big time, I just think for this role that would take so much of a seasoned actor to do it, being old enough to know, NINA was a very complex individual, very vast in her knowledge of the world, an old Soul during her younger years. A lady who could sit you down and discuss Cuisine and then be pitch perfect in a discussion about Marxist Communist ideology, that's a hard one for any actress, I would not wish that on any actor cause you will have to bring every trick, in the book to bring that to the screen, and the scrutiny from musical industry giants will be world wide, not saying she can not do it just saying this one will take going to a zone inside a soul that most folks out there have no present reference for. Tough one not just for her, it would not be a cake walk for any of the names mentioned on this post!!!!

  • CareyCarey | August 16, 2012 6:59 PM

    More importantly, Leon, in regards to your description/overview of Nina Simone, is that the "story" being told in this biopic? I think not. I believe the story is in Vanessa's synopsis. Consequently, if the film holds true to the script, it will about Nina's relationship with Clifton Henderson, a nurse Simone met while institutionalized at a psychiatric hospital in California and... an 18 year-old Nina reading a rejection letter from the Curtis Institute and... Nina playing at a nightclub in 1962 and... Nina as a young child refusing to play in her school’s auditorium unless her parents sit up front and... an enraged, belligerent, foul-mouthed, mentally unstable Nina Simon and... an embittered, demanding, volatile, promiscuous and alcoholic Simone, and... her inner turmoil, and... her kicking it with Richard Pryor as they share a joint and... her struggles with remorse, insecurity, feeling unloved and misunderstood, NOT her intellectual prowess. However, I will agree that Zoe has a monumental task in front of her. She'll have to do more than "emote". She will be required to "wear" Nina Simone.

  • CareyCarey | August 16, 2012 5:55 PM

    First Leon, I hear you about your mother's memories of Nina Simone, I just had a similar conversation with my mother. However, they (your mother and my mother; my mother no longer goes to movie theaters) are still in the -- miniscule -- minority of moviegoers who can make the claim that they've seen Nina go through her struggles. To that point, you said "NINA was a very complex individual, very vast in her knowledge of the world, an old Soul during her younger years. A lady who could sit you down and discuss Cuisine and then be pitch perfect in a discussion about Marxist Communist ideology". Now Leon, you described the thought process and alledged intellect of Nina Simone. A Film uses audio and video images as a means to tell a story. Nothing in your overview of Ms Simone speaks to that medium. Therefore, your implication that Zoe can't discuss all the events/subjects that you mentioned, holds little credence. What acting skills does it take to discuss Marxist Communist ideology (just read the lines). Is there a certain way one has to fix their lips or tilt their head or roll their eye while discussing "Cuisine"? I hope you understand what I am saying. Movies (to a large degree) are about projecting emotions through dialog and visual images, not the character's ideologies. In short, Zoe can be dumb as a rock and still do Nina Simone. And "scrutiny", like controversy... can be a good thang... and it ain't never stop a stepper.

  • Orville | August 16, 2012 4:10 PMReply

    Zoe Saldana goes on and on about how she's a Latina in her interviews yet she doesn't mind stealing a film role meant for a black American actress. First, Star Trek, now the Nina Simone biopic. I understand, the studio wants to make money but picking a mixed race Hispanic to play Nina Simone is the wrong way to go.

    This is a huge mistake, Zoe Saldana is the wrong choice for the Nina Simone biopic for so many reasons. First, Saldana doesn't look like Nina Simone at all. Second, Saldana has NOT proven herself as an actress as far as I am concerned. Sure Saldana has appeared in Avatar and Star Trek her acting abilities are really lacking.

    I still think the studio should have considered someone else like say Viola Davis to play Nina Simone when she's an older woman or maybe Anika Noni Rose when Nina Simone was younger. But to pick a mixed race Latina well, I think this just kind of proves how hard black women really got it in Hollywood.

    I might be in the minority here but I don't consider Zoe Saldana to be a big star. Sure, Saldana was in avatar but the audience just heard her voice in that film. In Star Trek Saldana didn't do much except kiss Spock.

  • LadyT | August 16, 2012 7:52 PM

    Both of Zoe's parents are Black! The one thing this Zoe situation has done is exposed the ignorance many Black Americans STILL holds when it comes to the African diaspora. It is embarrassing. It reminds me of when George Bush went to Brazil and expressed shock to the President of Brazil that there are Black people in Brazil. Americans need to do better!

  • CareyCarey | August 16, 2012 3:57 PMReply

    Does Jeffrey Wright resemble Jean-Michel Basquiat? Nope! Yet he killed that role. Does Denzel resemble Rubin "Hurricane" Carter? NO WAY, but he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. Okay, I am again suggesting that an actor's performance in a biopic, is not hindered by whether they look like the subject or not. Consequently, I believe the most relevant question is, can Zoe Saldana capture the essence and spirit of Nina Simone (in all her good and bad glory) and then, project/convey that person to the audience? Lets face it, few (if any) who have voiced their displeasures of Zoe, have actually SEEN Nina Simone DO anything. Granted, we've READ about her stance on race, her political views and her personal problems, but who has SEEN her as she went through her storms? Who has witness the woman, Nina Simone, as she battled depression or alcohol addiction or the pain and confusion of being in and out of love (just to name a few (a small few) of the defining "characteristics" of who Nina "was")? Having said that, we have seen Ms. Saldana in several genres which required her to tap into several types of emotions. She has been in Rom-Coms, action flicks, dramas and (I have to say this) "black" flicks. And Troy said "Zoe got nitty gritty as a coke whore in Haven". I am suggesting that we have to give Zoe a chance b/c we really don't know what the role requires and/or if Zoe can go "there" when required. To that point, Blutopaz mentioned Diana Ross. Who knew Ms. Ross had the range to reach the emotions required in Lady Sings The Blues? Who knew she could play a med student who loses 18 years of her life due to a bout with schizophrenia (Out Of Darkness) which earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress? I am suggesting that until someone shows me -- in Zoe's past performances -- why she cannot reach the "depths" of Nina Simone, we have to call those things that are not, as if they already are -- until proven differently. Zoe is an actress with potentials that's possibly untapped. Heck, I am more concerned with David Oyelowo than Zoe. What range does he have and when/what movies did he show it? Surely not "Planet Of The Apes" and please do not say that (his) over-the-top caricature in Red Tails?

  • CareyCarey | August 17, 2012 1:00 PM

    "At this point it does not even matter how Zoe portrays her, or even that she is cast. She could show up with the blue Avatar makeup on and use the same voice and inflections, why not" AMEN! There it is... turn down the lights... shut the door, lock it and throw away the key. Blutopaz, through our days of bickering, name-calling and stump down brawls, we've finally arrived. I agree, at this point it really doesn't matter. Now it's time to get my preach on. Truth be told, it has never mattered. When it's all said and done, when the dust settles, when opinions collide like Rockymountain Bighorn rams, when the pontificators deliver their last speech, when the church says amen, after the politician says he will, the "I" factor remains. Underneath the plethora of essays, articles and books written on films and it's purpose, the "I" factor is king. There's even books written with the soul purpose of challenging the moviegoer to sharpen their power of observation, develope the skill and habits of perceptive watching, and discover complex aspects of film art that they might otherwise overlook. Imagine that, books on the art of watching films, but again, the "I" factor holds the trump card. I said all of that to say, only "I" know the real truth behind my journey. The "I" I am referrring to are those directly involved in ANY film's production. Only THEY know the purpose and motives behind their decisions to make "their" film. However, I've come to believe the vast majority of those decisions stem from the same poisonous root, selfishness. I know, tough thought - huh. I mean, I don't know why the Nina Simone biopic is being made, just as I don't know why Rainforest Films made Think Like A Man or why any films is made, nor their purpose. However, I feel strongly that those motives and decision are not about a walk in the light of creative altruism, but in the darkness of destructive selfishness. The "me" and the "I"... greed, power, egos and money fuels the human thinking process. "At this point it does not even matter how Zoe portrays her, or even that she is cast. She could show up with the blue Avatar makeup on and use the same voice and inflections, why not" AMEN! Blutopaz

  • BluTopaz | August 17, 2012 10:59 AM

    It makes me think about how other biopics of very famous people have been approached. Finally watched Capote a few days ago, Philip Seymour Hoffman got Truman Capote's creepy, nasal voice down. Same for Roger Guenvere Smith when he did Huey Newton's odd, soft voice and mannerisms. And of course Denzel's spot on diction and overall swag during Malcolm X. Nina's speaking voice appeared to be rather deep and husky, just like her singing. I don't know if the filmmakers are watching footage of her offscreen as well. But according to that other post re: her family not being consulted at all and other fabrications about the woman's life, it appears they are making ish up as they go along. At this point it does not even matter how Zoe portrays her, or even that she is cast. She could show up with the blue Avatar makeup on and use the same voice and inflections, why not.

  • CareyCarey | August 16, 2012 10:16 PM

    "Her pedigree alone is not enough to merit a wish for an accomplished actor who has shown depth in films besides cgi sic-fiction, and chitlin circuit rom-coms" BLASPHEMY *LOL*... @chitlin circuit rom-coms. OOOUUUWEEEEE... no you didn't... but good one. :-)Anyway... "So now we need to have seen the subject in action offstage, in order to voice an opinion about who gets to play her?" ... No, that was not my point. Some folks based their objections on what they thought Zoe couldn't do, in relation to Nina's lifestyle/actions/habits/journey. So I was merely directing my argument to those concerns. For instance, Leon spoke about Simone's intellect. That's not an action. Others spoke of her positions on race and freedom, which can be illustrated through dialog, but again, that form of acting does not require a vision of Nina. Zoe can most certainly speak her words. So yes, seeing the subject in action will give one a better vision of who she was and how she carried herself (in various walks throughout her life). So yes, it would be insightful to see her nervous breakdown. Then, as you said, we can SEE (and make a more informed opinion) if lightweight Zoe can handle a scene like that. Thank you very much.

  • BluTopaz | August 16, 2012 8:35 PM

    And oh, I agree with you about Oyelowo--I have said before he has an incredible agent to be getting all these parts because he has no distinctive spark nor talent imo. But it goes back to Black men having it easier than women. It's ok for him to be dark, kinky hair and his African features. No he's not the lead but he is the love interest--Red Tails infamously REMOVED all the scenes with Black women in post. The erasure of dark Black women (a mulatta Harriet Tubman sounds like a bad comedy skit) is not something I expect any Black male to get--Yeah I know Zoe is Black, she's brown skinned, blah blah. As has been mentioned umpteen times by others, part of Nina's vibe was her pride in her very dark skin and rounded features. I don't want to see Zoe parade around with a tan and afro wig while she earns her acting chops.

  • BluTopaz | August 16, 2012 8:27 PM

    "Lets face it, few (if any) who have voiced their displeasures of Zoe, have actually SEEN Nina Simone DO anything"

    1) What an incredibly shallow statement. So now we need to have seen the subject in action offstage, in order to voice an opinion about who gets to play her. Her pedigree alone is not enough to merit a wish for an accomplished actor who has shown depth in films besides cgi sic-fiction, and chitlin circuit rom-coms. But just in case you would like to see Dr. Simone DO something, her nervous breakdown starts around 11:40: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEN-iVT2YVw I don't want to see a lightweight like Zoe tackle a scene like this, especially when as I noted down thread, the upcoming Janis Joplin film gets the treatment of a Tony award winning singer/actress who even has a raspy voice like Janis'. 2) I'm not a hound, no one throws bones at me. I know you speak in colloquialisms, but come on son....

  • CareyCarey | August 16, 2012 5:20 PM

    Orville, your analogies are too ridiculous to address. A white person who takes on the task of portraying a black person is... WAY OFF the scope of this conversation. And please miss me with the "she ain't black" farcicality. Not today... Tricks are for kids and I like Wheaties... The Breakfast of Champions. So I ain't biting your bait - today.

  • Orville | August 16, 2012 4:42 PM

    @Carey Carey Jeffery Wright is black but he is still a man! Black male actors have always had it better in Hollywood than black women. Also, Nina Simone was very political and a very proud black American woman she wasn't a mixed race Latina. Should Rose Parks be played by Miley Cyrus? Should Martin Luther King be played by Ashton Kutcher? Give me a break!

    in Hollywood the studios prefer darker skinned black male actors to anoint as their superstars or well respected actors. By contrast, for black women the lighter the woman's skin tone, the closer her image is to whiteness the better opportunities she's going to have. I think Zoe Saldana should have followed Halle Berry's lead when she turned down the Aretha Franklin biopic. The same thing for Zoe here she's wrong for the part on so many levels.

  • Akimbo | August 16, 2012 2:56 PMReply

    The international financing aspect definitely explains the logic of Zoe's casting, even though it doesn't feel quite right. Maybe she'll surprise us? Maaaybe? Between Zoe and Joy, looks like I spawned four (and counting) posts. So...can I hold a gift card? What are the benefits of the Shadow & Act Snitch Reward Program?

  • Charles Judson | August 16, 2012 2:43 PMReply

    Mary doesn't chart overseas often and even then not that high. She appears to chart more often when she's featured on someone else's song, Maroon 5 being a recent example. Not much of a shock, the U.K. is where she pops up most. http://www.mariah-charts.com/chartdata/PMaryJBlige.htm As Turner pointed out COLOMBIANA made $60 million worldwide. Even if you take out AVATAR, PIRATES and STAR TREK and include DEATH AT A FUNERAL, TAKERS and THE LOSERS, those films did $50, $70 and $30 million each. Yes, LOSERS didn't do well, but if you're making a film for $10 million it's still much easier to sell an actress to backers who has been in films that are in the target range of what you would like to hit. AND have a foreign sales track record in both big budget blockbusters as well as low budget films like DEATH. COLOMBIANA did $12 million in France, Germany, Spain and the UK alone. Half of that in France, a country that will likely have a large Nina Simone fan base. Mary has no such record. Combine Zoe, who has already done some of the overseas press dance for TREK and AVATAR, with a name like Nina who still resonates in Europe and you've already made your job of selling a $10 million film that much easier. The marketing budget of this film will probably never crack more than a few hundred thousand (someone correct me if I'm wrong on that point), with festivals, preview screenings and press playing a huge part. We can debate issues like colorism and who looks like who all day long, but it doesn't in anyway get to the root problem of actresses having limited opportunities to get even a portion of what Zoe has done on their resumes. In terms of where this business has been and is, Zoe's current career path is still atypical, regardless of what shade she is. Unless I'm totally misreading the lack of Meg Ryan lite, early Sandra Bullock level roles for a Jennifer Beals post FLASHDANCE or Angela Basset's own career path, or Jasmine Guy's, or Nia Long's or any number of actresses of any shading that have neither played the lead or even co-lead in a film more than a handful of times, if at all.

  • troy | August 16, 2012 2:29 PMReply

    Zoe got nitty gritty as a coke whore in Haven

  • JMac | August 16, 2012 2:17 PMReply

    Disappointed. If it is such a small production and it probably won't play anywhere, the studio would have been free to use any great but lesser known actress to fill the spot(s). Seems odd they went for Mary J. now they have Zoe. It will be interesting to see who the role was offered to and why it was turned down. Something wrong with the script? Money? If Simone is against the choice, will she pull a Jimmy Hendrix estate move and not allow the use of Nina's songs in the film (providing she has all the rights)? Too bad this isn't a Merchant Ivory film. They'd do it right and it'd be a classic.

  • Margo | August 16, 2012 1:36 PMReply

    I am not sure why people are trashing Zoe for this. Yeah at first glance, Zoe doesn't look like Nina Simone, are there other actresses who better resemble Nina? sure (Viola David, Adepero Oduye, Anika Noni Rose...). I think people need not forget, Zoe is a good actress, as a big fan of hers, Ive been waiting for her to do a really nitty gritty dramatic role. I don't know much about Nina Simone but what I read is that she was quite the character, so this challenge of having to play someone quite opposite to her may have been a big motivator for her to pick up the role. If production goes up in October, I am sure by the end of the year, we will get something and we can see where this is really going.

  • NO BRAINER | August 16, 2012 1:35 PMReply

    All this complaining and I don't see one person here taking responsibility for the state of Hollywood that would allow this. You people just don't get it.

  • AccidentalVisitor | August 16, 2012 12:27 PMReply

    One of the folks on Simone's daughter Facebook page pointed out that they actually used some bi-racial actress to play Harriet Tubman in the Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter film? Hilarious.

  • Laura | August 17, 2012 1:57 PM

    @Nadine. I know there is no rage with you. Or the other regulars with maybe the exception of Orville. But let's be real. There's is a lot of anger about Saldana getting the role. ANd a lot of it because of her ethnicity (irrelevant) and her "exotic" looks. Let's put on our thinking caps and dissect why this is a miscast (what Simone embodies, the body politic, etc) and what Saldana brings to the table. Let's look at the film financing game and the reason why they would pick Saldana. Let's look at the historical distortion of dark hued Black woman. Let's look at white (how ever you want to define it) packaging of Black female stories for white consumption. Let's look at the deep pain of routinely being dismissed, marginalized and made invisible. Let's look at employment of Black male and female actors. Than after that let's drop Saldana in that context in the critique of her acceptance of the role of Nina Simone. I can't fathom her playing the role. I look at her casting as someone who doesn't have the respect in giving Nina Simone story the respect it deserve (come on Mary J Blige?) So what else is new, water is wet? I can't sit hear the same old siht of Black folks getting mad cause white folks gonna do what they gonna do.

  • Nadine | August 17, 2012 2:18 AM

    Hey Laura. There's no rage. Zoe, whom I love, and I think most people are making a point of not giving a hard time (outside of those who are familiar with the rumors, but not Saldana), just want better casting. I do think, though, that it is a thesis worthy discussion as to whether or not the actors have any responsibility. Bill Cosby, in explaining his career path and how he was able to avoid roles that compromised his dignity, Cosby simply stated that he had to turn them down no matter what, but what disappointed him was that there was always someone willing to step in. The issue is the studio, director/writer and the casting, not Zoe, but I think it would be a powerful piece for S&A to cover in light of recent events, from Fairley to Saldana. I think if there were a reputable American actress with Zoe's "look", the outrage would be just as great. My response to the Mary thing was that clearly, this was NOT a serious movie with Mary in it. I still threw in my two cents, but I mean, c'mon.... MARY? You know with Zoe comes investments and mainstream acceptance... therefore, the alarms have to go off.

  • Laura | August 16, 2012 3:45 PM

    @Nadine. "the actress is not the problem (or major problem), but the industry... yet one has to ask what responsibility do these actresses have, especially in light of recent claims of a lack of roles for this population" And that's problem I have with the majority of criticism about Saldana accepting role of Simone. I didn't hear that kind of vitriol when MJ (can't sing, can't act) Blige was offered the role. Please they act as if Saldana is running things. She's a squirrel trying to catch a nut just like 99% of actors world wide. She's an easy target to vent our rage for the real fact that we see ourselves powerless to correct fact that mainstream movie makers do not like seeing brown/dark brown grown Black women in roles that not pathological, pitiful, mammified it's infinite permutations or magical in it's negressness. It's easy because Saldana is an other (she a Black Latina) so I suspect also in this outrage is "dem foriegners are taking away American jobs" in the persistant declaration that Saldana ain't Black (enough).

  • Nadine | August 16, 2012 1:05 PM

    Yeah, Jaqueline Fleming. Again, the actress is not the problem (or major problem), but the industry... yet one has to ask what responsibility do these actresses have, especially in light of recent claims of a lack of roles for this population.

  • Boomslang | August 16, 2012 12:19 PMReply

    Get the headwraps ready !

  • Nikkie | August 16, 2012 12:11 PMReply

    Wasn't trying to reply to anyone in particular.

  • the black police | August 16, 2012 11:57 AMReply

    All I can do is LOL!

  • Nikkie | August 16, 2012 12:11 PM

    I'm not sure about Zoe in this role. But people are calling Zoe "light-skinned". LOL She's not light. WTF.

  • Is this a joke? | August 16, 2012 11:53 AMReply

    I like Zoe.

    However, this casting is BS.

    It's almost as if the producers don't care or understand what Nina was about. She was a proud dark skinned black American woman who felt she had to leave her home country.

    In an era of rampant skin bleaching on the Continent and in India, where black singers know it's best to lightened up (we'll see what happens to Ms. Banks) and get a big ass weave/wig in order to succeed, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that an actress than looks nothing like Nina was cast.

    Zoe is gorgeous but Viola Davis is a much stronger actress. Also she's older which makes more sense for the time period the script is focusing on.

  • randy | August 16, 2012 11:49 AMReply

    zoe saldana as nina simone? sure, why not taye diggs as ODB while we're at it...

  • B | August 16, 2012 9:40 PM

    Lol. I like you. This casting (as much as I like Zoe) is totally absurd.

  • ALM | August 16, 2012 11:41 AMReply

    Based on this post, I am extremely interested in hearing what Simone has to say. Will she be direct and truthful like her mother, or will she give a politically correct, softballed response?

  • BluTopaz | August 16, 2012 11:31 AMReply

    Aside from this movie, it's interesting this studio refers to their European content as "intelligent" and the States as "star driven productions". I get that American actors are often recognized globally, but I see their choice of words as uniquely distinguishing betweeen their projects coming from the two continents. They also have Half of a Yellow Sun on their slate; so this is at least the 2nd time one of their Black films has produced controversy with the leading lady casting. I'm guessing that film is intended for an international release, maybe the same for Nina, who knows.

  • CareyCarey | August 16, 2012 2:06 PM

    Okay Laura and Blutopaz, I'm gonna throw y'all a bone and do what I seldom do... that is... say the both of you have made interesting points. And to a degree -- you're right. Now, @Laura, whatever Hudson did acting wise, it didn't interfere with her overall performance which lead to her receiving praise. And, I have to say this, your argument that the actors you listed developed their skill over time, is a good point. However, I believe one of the skills of a singing is just like that of a trained actor. They have to remove themselves from the world around them; leave their personal struggle behind, get in gear and perform day in and day out. Frequently, through their songs and thus their performance, they have to emote certain feeling, just like an actor. They both have horned their skills over time. So, it's safe to say, imo, that "acting" and singing for a living are birds of the same feather. @Blutopaz, I understand your point and concerns. RE: Diana Ross, Britney Spears and lightweights... I will address that angle in a separate comment, which will speak to why I believe Zoe could carry this role.

  • Laura | August 16, 2012 1:27 PM

    @CareyCarey. AS for Will Smith and Jamie Fox they honed their acting skills on television before they made their foray into film biops. My point is this: stop skipping over people with the acting chops and giving character driven roles to singers who don't have the chops, experience, and talent to carry a film. Jennifer Hudson SANG her way through Dreamgirls. I saw the film, her acting wasn't all that good. If she didn't have a voice do you think her performance would have stood out? Queen Latifah started with small roles and build her way up. She been developing as an actor along the way. Shoot, is that's the case the role should have been offered to Latifah rather MJB who still after 20+ years in the business, she still sings off key.

  • BluTopaz | August 16, 2012 1:26 PM

    No, the defining factor is do they WANT the job. India was the main non-actor choice for a lot of people, has there ever been any word if she even wants to be an actress... And I have seen MJB act---no comment. There was controversy with Diana Ross re: Lady Sings the Blues. She knocked it out of the park, and the role was written as a star vehicle for her. Every performer you mentioned either specifically showed an interest in acting, or are/were trained Broadway or vaudeville performers who basically do it all. Which is why I mentioned Heather specifically, and in another thread there is a treasure trove of Broadway entertainers who I feel should be considered for these biopics of musical artists. The upcoming Janis Joplin film (which I would love to see) has cast a Tony award winner in the leading role which I totally agree with. They did not cast Megan Fox, Britney Spears or any lightweight White "it" girls. They searched for someone with proven acting and singing chops for a role that intense, and deservedly so. Our legends deserve that same consideration.

  • CareyCarey | August 16, 2012 12:48 PM

    A small point. Can a singer be an actor and do justice to both art forms? It's been done several times... and successfully, I might add.. I mean, I don't think it's disrespectful in the least. Will Smith as Ali - huh. Jennifer Hudson in Dream Girls. Jamie Fox is a successful singer (sold millions) and actor. We know what he did with Ray. Queen Latifah started as a singer/rapper. And by the way, who's presently filming the part of Jimi Hendrix? I believe it's another singer. The list goes on and on starting from our earliest black entertainers like Ethel Waters and later, Sammy Davis Jr. and Harry Belafonte. There's nothing wrong nor disrespectful about being multi-talented. And wait, isn't Audra McDonald a superior singer... who happens to also - "act"? Besides, just because a person calls themselves an actor, doesn't automatically or necessarily mean they can act, but more importantly, it doesn't mean they fit the "role". Of course there's a host of reasons and objectives to selecting a performer for a particular role, yet their "title" is not and should never be on the list. Ultimately, the defining factor is CAN THEY DO THE "JOB"?

  • BluTopaz | August 16, 2012 12:15 PM

    Good points, I did not think about Nina's fame overseas. Plus you're right, it's easy to forget many Americans are not as familiar with Nina as we are. I also didn't understand the the pop star, non-actress suggestions from those other posts. I get the India Irie sentiment, but just cuz she's dark with natural hair doesn't mean a non-actress is right for this intense role either-jeez. Heather Headley was my main pic. Anyway I am not subjecting myself to Zoe emoting Ain't Got No Life. This is simply another example of "others" having the resources to tell our stories the way they want to, and a predominantly COMEDY writer directing the movie to boot. Nice.

  • Laura | August 16, 2012 11:45 AM

    Simone is internationally well-reknown. I don't think any Americans really care for Simone other than Cultural Nationalist, Afrocentrist and 1960's/70's Black Nationalist. I don't see this being a film for American consumption, at all. Having said that, there is a sturdiness about Simone that I just don't think Saldana possess. I can't picture Saldana lipsynching "Ain't Got No", "Four Woman", "Mississippi Goddamn". However I can maybe see her lipsynch "Young, Gifted, and Black'. I'm not hating that she got the role. More power to her as an actress to put that on her resume. But I think she is miscast for the role. However, I rather see and actress for the role of Simone than a pop singer. I find the idea of getting a (Black) singer for a role of an important (Black) figure highly insulting and disrepectful.

  • misha | August 16, 2012 11:19 AMReply

    Lordy! I don't know what's worse...the "powers that be" thinking Zoe is right for the part or Zoe herself believing that she can actually pull this off! I'm utterly flabbergasted!

  • B | August 16, 2012 9:44 PM

    @Misha: Flabbergasted is most certainly the appropriate word in this instance. @Nadine: I agree with every word you wrote. Thank you.

  • NO BRAINER | August 16, 2012 1:41 PM

    Both can't compare to people here complaining about the whole thing. It's the audiences fault for this. You people show up in costumes, thinking it's Halloween, when it's actually a Christmas party. Until you get it, this sort of thing will continue to happen.

  • Nadine | August 16, 2012 11:58 AM

    I love me some ZOE, but there is a one-sided expectation isn't there. Some people are just supposed to take it, while others benefit from it. For example, Thandie Newton playing Eddie Murphy's love interest in Norbit... no responsibility expected from Thandie... Where is Zoe's responsibility? Bump everyone else... if Zoe looked into Simone's own beliefs, Zoe should have turned down the role. Zoe is VERY connected to her African roots, so as much as she is aware of colorism/white supremacy (especially given her background), we have to think this issue occured to her. Hopefully this will all blow over, because some are characterizing this issues as people having a problem with ZOE and "light-skinned" people, as opposed to the honoring of Simone's legacy. As my husband said, would people accept Elena Kagan (Supreme Court) being played by Meghan Fox? Incorrect casting is incorrect casting, but Zoe will be able to pull it off for a European audience who is less color-struck/afflicted than the U.S. (and that's not saying much).

  • Ladybug | August 16, 2012 10:36 AMReply

    I hope it never reaches US shores . . . if it does I think we should boycott . . . make a statement with the almighty dollar . . . which is all they seem to understand. I hope someone with good sense does a bio pic cast correctly. I am also trying to understand how they think Zoe is a draw . . . someone needs to check the box office results for Columbiana . . . I'm just saying.

  • turner | August 16, 2012 9:13 PM

    Columbiana wasn't good period. It got lousy reviews and still made 60 mil when it shouldn't have probably because men wanted to see her running around in her panties with a big gun. Pariah was a small independent film with limited release because of the limited appeal of its subject matter as well as it was filmed by an unknown director, starring an unknown, unattractive actress... If (for argument's sake) a younger Ms Seldana was playing a lipstick lesbian in Pariah it would've made more money. I'm just saying... it's show biz and it aint fair... what's new?

  • Ladybug | August 16, 2012 8:13 PM

    Pariah was a small independent film with limited release . . . you cannot compare the two. Columbiana was a Luc Besson action flick which had a wide release (hop on over to imdb and check out the number of screens it showed on). . . it cost 40 million to make . . . not including its marketing costs . . . compare it to other films of the same type with the same release . . . it's a disappointment. And given the recent article in Variety on Tracee Byrd where it was mentioned Latinos make up 20% of the population . . . she's not getting much support . . . that is all I am saying.

  • NO BRAINER | August 16, 2012 1:38 PM

    @TURNER... Thus the reason why I made my comment at the top...

  • turner | August 16, 2012 11:42 AM

    Coumbiana, not a good film did $60 mil worldwide, Pariah, $700K... I'm just saying. This is show "business" why do so many forget that?

  • Chad | August 16, 2012 10:19 AMReply

    Well good for her. Just be happy another black actress is playing the role of another iconic black figure. stop eating each other alive people.

  • Lauren | August 16, 2012 11:38 AM

    @Chad- exactly! Too many posters are absolutely vicious with their opinions. Ladybug wants everyone to boycott before even seeing the film!

  • Anthony | August 16, 2012 10:16 AMReply

    I understand why people are not in favor of Zoe playing this role but I've seen far too many disgusting comments. It is one thing to disagree about the casting decision but it is another to rip Zoe to shreds because she's interested in playing this role. From her perspective she may be a Nina Simone fan, she could know something we don't know and figures if she or another major commercial black actress doesn't sign on to do the film then it may never get made.

  • Lauren | August 16, 2012 6:33 PM

    Not a peep would be heard about that... that's not how the site works. If you're Denzel; darker than Malcom X or your Terrance Howard, lighter than Nelson Mandella... silence. It's women they're after.

  • Donella | August 16, 2012 4:01 PM

    Zoe may surprise us all as Denzel did with Malcolm X and Angela Bassett did with Tina Turner. I'm pretty sure she knows by now she'll have to bring A game to this performance. What would really drive people toabsolute madness is if someone decided to make a biopic about Angela Davis and cast Viola Davis or Lauryn Hill for the role.

  • Lauren | August 16, 2012 11:52 AM

    Yup. The same folks complaining about Zoe's Latina roots are now in a frenzy cause she's portraying a "genuine" black woman. Does Denzell look like Malcom X who had reddish hair and green eyes? Oh but he's a man and this is more about "colorism" against light skinned actresses than anything else.

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