Nina Simone Movie Distributor Defends Zoe Saldana Amid Blackface Backlash

Truth rating: 10
Nina Simone Movie Distributor Statement

By Shari Weiss

Nina Simone Movie Distributor Statement

RLJ Entertainment

The distributor of the upcoming Nina Simone biopic is defending Zoe Saldana and the movie amid much backlash and controversy.

As Gossip Cop has reported, the film, simply called Nina, began getting criticized as far back as 2012 when Saldana, who is part-Dominican and part-Puerto Rican, was cast as the black performer. The outrage was stoked again this week with the release of the official movie poster and trailer. Many have taken exception to Saldana essentially being in blackface for the role, with her skin darkened to represent the complexion of the late music legend and civil rights activist. In addition to the makeup, Saldana also wears a prosthetic nose.

Now in response to the renewed firestorm, RLJ Entertainment founder Robert L. Johnson says in a statement:

“Zoe Saldana delivers an exceptional and mesmerizing tribute to Nina Simone. She gave her heart and soul to the role and displayed her extraordinary talent. The most important thing is that creativity or quality of performance should never be judged on the basis of color, or ethnicity, or physical likeness. Quality entertainment should be measured by the sheer force of creativity and the commitment that an actor or actress brings to the performance. We are proud to distribute the film headlined by Zoe Saldana and David Oyelowo on April 22, 2016.”

Johnson, who is also the founder of BET, and his company are distributing the movie. The statement comes just hours after the verified Twitter account for the estate of Simone tweeted, “Cool story but please take Nina’s name out your mouth. For the rest of your life.” Saldana has not yet commented.

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