Zoe Saldana is doing her best to shrug off the controversy surrounding her role as Nina Simone, which started three years ago and hit a peak this week when the first poster and trailer for the film Nina were released, but a source close to the actress says that deep down, she's pissed about the backlash.
“Zoe’s not a white girl. It’s kind of upsetting that people are acting the way they are before seeing the final product. She loves Nina Simone and this role was a labor of love for her,” a source tells Page Six. “There’s always controversy [over] ‘is she Latin or isn’t she Latin,’ so she’s used to that, but this is different for her.”
The pal adds that Saldana herself has not responded to the recent controversy — she's been called out for wearing blackface in the film — because “she loves the film and she’s too busy to focus on the negative with all of her other projects coming up.”
The closest Saldana has come to addressing this fresh round of backlash is tweeting a quote from Miss Simone on Tuesday. A day later, however, Simone's estate ruthlessly clapped back:
Meanwhile, the director of the film, Cynthia Mort, who was pushed off the project by producers some time ago, broke her silence to defend Saldana. “Zoe gave an amazingly courageous and great performance,” Mort says. “I think that’s all that should matter.”
“There’s a lot of good in it, and people should see it,” Mort adds. “The bottom line is this: Nina Simone deserves to be known.”
Nina hits theaters and VOD on April 22.
Zoe has had to defend playing the role of Nina Simone for nearly three years now, and it seems like it's only just beginning. Watch the actress talk about the backlash in our exclusive interview below:
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(Photos from left: Getty Images, Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)