I, like a lot of people, initially thought this was the worst casting (insert Kanye voice here) OF ALL TIME!!!
These pictures have done little to dissuade me from believing that this is going to be a hot mess of a movie.
Now hear me: this is in NO way a slight against Zoe Saldana or her acting skills. I like her. Loved her in Columbiana. Overall, I think she's a fantastic actor. My grievance is with Hollywood and their need to continue to shun darker-skinned actors. I mean did we REALLY need to put Zoe Saldana in blackface? (I don't care what you say. This is blackface and you can't convince me otherwise.) Was there NO ONE else available for this role? Is Viola Davis
I constantly feel like Hollywood continues to give what few roles there are for women of color to the "Safe Black" actors. "Safe Black" is a term that Toya introduced me to when she worked for a company that did a bit of advertising for real estate. "Safe Blacks" are lighter-skinned, often have long curly hair and are of indistinguishable race, very non-threatening. Take a look at the latest flyer from your favorite store. Pay attention to the commercials that come on. Peep the next runway show for most designers. The faces of color you do see will most likely fall into the "Safe Black" category.
One would think that when casting a movie about Nina Simone, the producers would have approached an Octavia Spencer or a Viola Davis. But from what I've read the writer of this movie has taken all kinds of liberties with the film. If that's the case, casting Zoe should not really come as that much of a surprise.
As I turned the idea of Zoe Saldana over and over in my head, I began to wonder if I'm not just as guilty as Hollywood. They continue to ignore black actors and I sit here and blog about it, further perpetuating the negativity. I mean, aside from the need for blackface make-up and prosthetic nose, who's to say that Zoe won't BEAST this role? Have I become so distracted by her looks that I'm discrediting her abilities? Isn't that what I'm blaming the casting directors of Tinseltown of doing?
I don't know...I'm still not convinced that this movie is going to fly. At this point I'm not remotely interested in seeing it. They didn't even contact the family regarding the movie, so it can't be that accurate.
(There's a great interview with Nina Simone's Daughter here. I initially embedded the interview but I couldn't get the auto play to stop and I find that really obnoxious.)
Who knows, maybe Zoe will give the performance of her life and have the rest of us eating crow. I genuinely hope she knocks this one out of the park. But even if she does, that won't fix the larger problem that shows no signs of abating in Hollywood. Until more men and women of color gain attain more reputable roles on television and in movies, REGARDLESS of their complexion, we will continue to have this same discussion and argue these same points. And frankly, I'm kind of over it.