The estate of Nina Simone is not holding back on how it feels about actress Zoe Saldana playing the soul singer and activist in director Cynthia Mort's new film Nina.
On the same day that the first trailer for Nina dropped, Saldana took to her Twitter account to post a quote from Simone reading, "I'll tell you what freedom is to me- No Fear... I mean really, no fear."
It wasn't long before the verified account @NinaSimoneMusic, which is described in its bio as the "Official Twitter for the Estate & Legacy of Dr. Nina Simone #ninasimone Pianist, singer, songwriter, activist, icon, mother," responded with a tweet of its own.
"For the rest of your life." Oh, snap.
The last two tweets from the account leading up to that one were YouTube links to Simone singing "That Blackness" and "Go to Hell." Maybe that's just a coincidence, maybe not.
It hasn't been a secret that some aren't too happy about Saldana portraying Simone, or the movie in general. Saldana, a light-skinned, multiracial actress whose parents were from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, was a controversial choice to take over the role of the dark-skinned Simone after Mary J. Blige dropped out of the project. Saldana reportedly wore dark makeup and a prosthetic nose during filming.
Why does the shade of her skin matter so much? As Complex's Kristen Yoonsoo Kim wrote in an earlier post, "Because Simone, both a musician and political activist, faced racism for not just being black but being dark-skinned—it's a point that drives much of her narrative and struggle, and it's a crucial part of her identity. Hollywood diversity is so much more nuanced than just black and white."
Along with the trailer came news that the film will be released on April 22. On Facebook, the official Nina Simone fan page called for venues to host Nina Simone listening parties on that day, so that fans can "allow the real NINA SIMONE the freedom to speak (and play and sing) for herself."