Zoe Saldana has finally spoken out in the wake of the controversy surrounding her portrayal of Nina Simone in Cynthia Mort's biopic Nina. In a new interview with Allure, the Guardians of the Galaxy star took a very firm stance against critics who slammed her casting as an example of blackface.
"There's no one way to be black," Saldana told Allure. "I'm black the way I know how to be. You have no idea who I am. I am black. I'm raising black men. Don't you ever think you can look at me and address me with such disdain." Saldana insists that Simone's life was a story that simply "must be told," adding that she has no regrets. "The script probably would still be lying around, going from office to office, agency to agency, and nobody would have done it," Saldana said. "Female stories aren't relevant enough, especially a black female story. I made a choice."
Saldana also hopes that Nina, despite not receiving positive reviews, has started a conversation surrounding Simone's life as a singer and activist that will continue for years to come. "The fact that we're talking about her, that Nina Simone is trending? We fucking won," Saldana said. "For so many years, nobody knew who the fuck she was. She is essential to our American history. As a woman first, and only then as everything else."
After the controversy surrounding Saldana's casting peaked earlier this year with a tweeted response from Simone's estate, the film's distributor released a statement in support of the actress. "Zoe Saldana delivers an exceptional and mesmerizing tribute to Nina Simone," Robert L. Johnson, founder of RLJ Entertainment and BET, said. "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."