The biopic of Nina Simone is filled with drama, and not just in the script.
The first photos of Zoe Saldana in character as the jazz legend surfaced this week and the controversy surrounding the casting of the Latina star as Simone has reached a fever pitch. Many believe that casting Saldana, who dons an Afro wig, dark makeup and a prosthetic nose to play the musical icon, is an affront to Simone's legacy.
Now, the person behind Nina Simone's official website has published a harsh open letter blasting Saldana and director Cynthia Mort for their participation in the film.
"Discussions over Zoe being or not being 'black enough' are the most heated and the most prevalent," the letter states. "While I understand this, I think it deals only with the symptom of what is going on rather than the underlying gentrification of Nina’s identity itself. If they were telling the true story of Nina Simone, Zoe would not have ended up in this role."
The letter continues, "given the focus on Nina’s fire of a spirit in fighting for beautiful dark skinned and wide nosed black women, how in the world could they have cast Zoe Saldana, only then to darken her and widen her nose?"
While the letter makes clear Simone's estate will not attempt to halt production on the unauthorized biopic, it does conclude with this couplet:
"Nina recognized injustice, and Nina never shut up. So should we, and neither should we."
Neither Saldana nor the producers or director of the film have responded to the criticism with an official statement.
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(Photos from left: Ian Showell/Getty Images, FameFlynet)