The controversy over racial inequality continues in Hollywood. After the boycott of Jada Pinkett-Smith and Spike Lee to the Oscars. And the criticism of Ang Lee and George Takei against the jokes about Asians made during the ceremony. The controversy has now centered on a movie and an actress: Nina, the biopic about singer and activist Nina Simone starring Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Star Trek).
On March 2, the first trailer of the film that has been criticized since 2013 was released when the election of Saldana as Simone was known. “I’ll tell you what freedom is for me: not to be afraid,” Zoe Saldana tweeted the day before and after seeing the first images, the official account that represents the artist’s legacy, whose author has not been revealed, replied online social: “Nice story, but please get Nina’s name out of your mouth. Forever”.
The fight was served and on fire. The images of a Zoe Saldana with darkened skin in the film, and thinner than Nina Simone was at the time the film portrays, the 1990s, when the singer was in her sixties, caused a lot of rejection in a sensitive and alert industry to these issues.
Lisa Simone Kelly, the singer’s only daughter, had also criticized the election in 2012. “My mother grew up in a time when she was told that she had a very wide nose, very dark skin. If we talk about appearance, this was not the best choice, “he said then in an interview in New York Times. But after the strong criticism leveled at Zoe Saldana these days, Kelly, 53, also a singer, came to her defense: “It is unfortunate that Zoe Saldana is being attacked so brutally when she is someone who is part of something bigger. It is clear that she has done the best she could on this project, but unfortunately she is being attacked when she is not responsible for the script or the lies. “
Faced with criticism about the skin color of Saldana, of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, Robert L. Johnson, producer of the film and founder of the BET (Black Entertainment Television) network responded: “Who decides how black you are?” “The most important thing is that the creativity or quality of the performance should not be judged on the basis of color, ethnicity or physical appearance,” he said, and compared criticisms of slavery, when they separated black slaves by skin tones.
Actresses such as Queen Latifah or Paula Patton have also come out in defense of Zoe Saldana, who in 2013 said that she accepted this project because of what the artist, a symbol in the African-American community, meant to her and her family, and had interpreted it “since love and respect ”.
But now the criticism goes beyond race. And they go to the story of the film that tells the return of Simone and her supposed love affair with her assistant, Clifton Henderson, played by David Oyelowo. “That relationship never existed,” admitted the daughter, since he was gay. “The project has been contaminated from the beginning. Clearly, it is not the truth about my mother’s life and everyone knows it. This is not how you want your loved ones to be remembered, “he said in Time.
Simone Kelly never endorsed this fictional project that has been around since 2010, but she was well on top of the Oscar-nominated documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? which can be seen on Netflix.
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