Robert Johnson Asks You Not to Judge Zoe Saldana for Nina Simone Role

Robert Johnson Asks You Not to Judge Zoe Saldana for Nina Simone Role

The film's distributor says "physical likeness" isn't everything.

Published March 3rd

Since the trailer for the forthcoming Nina Simone biopic Nina, featuring a prosthetically enhanced and darkened Zoe Saldana, was released, social media went into a frenzy. With some of the legendary entertainer's fans and even her estate slamming the actress for accepting the role, the film's distributor Robert L. Johnson is coming to her defense, praising her performance and urging fans to give it a chance.

"Zoe Saldana delivers an exceptional and mesmerizing tribute to Nina Simone," said Johnson, the founder of RLJ Entertainment and BET, in a statement. "She gave her heart and soul to the role and displayed her extraordinary talent."

Directly addressing the backlash the actress received, he encouraged fans to look beyond the lack of physical resemblance between the two stars.

"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," he said. "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."

The controversy, which started during the initial stages of filming years ago, is rooted in the darkening of Saldana's skin and use of prosthetics to resemble Simone.

Watch the actress talk about the backlash in our exclusive interview below:

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Written by Moriba Cummings

(Photos from left: Ron Adar/Getty Images, John Minihan/Evening Standard/Getty Images, Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images for AWXII)

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