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Zoe Saldana reveals she regrets playing Nina Simone in 2016 biopic: 'She deserved better' 

She starred as legendary singer Nina Simone in 2016’s biopic Nina, directed by Cynthia Mort. 

However, Zoe Saldana is now apologizing for the role, which was controversial at the time as she had to wear a prosthetic nose and have her skin darkened to match the iconic singer and civil rights activist. 

In an interview with Pose creator Steven Canals, out on Tuesday, the Avatar actress got tearful saying she now regrets playing Simone and that she should have ‘tried everything in [her] power to cast a Black woman to play an exceptionally perfect Black woman.’ 

Apologizing: Zoe Saldana is now apologizing for playing Nina Simone, which was controversial at the time, while she sat down with Steven Canals on Tuesday

Apologizing: Zoe Saldana is now apologizing for playing Nina Simone, which was controversial at the time, while she sat down with Steven Canals on Tuesday

Saldana, 42, talked with Canals about colorism within the Latino/a community which took her to discussing her controversial role. 

‘I should have never played Nina,’ she said. ‘I should have done everything in my power, with the leverage that I had 10 years ago — which was a different [amount of] leverage, but it was leverage nonetheless.’

After she was cast, many fans pointed to Simone’s work as a civil rights activist and actively battling colorism. 

Dozens of people blasted director Mort and Saldana for the casting, saying it was disrespectful to darken the actress’ face to play Simone, who spent years of her life campaigning for civil rights. 

Regret: The Avengers actress said she now regrets playing Simone and that she should have 'tried everything in [her] power to cast a Black woman to play an exceptionally perfect Black woman'

Regret: The Avengers actress said she now regrets playing Simone and that she should have ‘tried everything in [her] power to cast a Black woman to play an exceptionally perfect Black woman’ 

Leverage: 'I should have never played Nina,' she said. 'I should have done everything in my power, with the leverage that I had 10 years ago — which was a different [amount of] leverage, but it was leverage nonetheless'

Leverage: ‘I should have never played Nina,’ she said. ‘I should have done everything in my power, with the leverage that I had 10 years ago — which was a different [amount of] leverage, but it was leverage nonetheless’

The role: She starred as legendary singer Nina Simone in 2016's biopic Nina, directed by Cynthia Mort, her skin was darkened and she wore a prosthetic nose

The role: She starred as legendary singer Nina Simone in 2016’s biopic Nina, directed by Cynthia Mort, her skin was darkened and she wore a prosthetic nose

Though now, Saldana seems to have truly reflected on the controversy and the role and recognizing that every aspect of Simone’s life added to who she was.  

‘That’s [growth] and it’s painful,’ she said. ‘I thought back then that I had the permission because I was a Black woman, and I am.’ 

Though, adding: ‘But it was Nina Simone, and Nina had a life and she had a journey that should’ve been and should be honored to the most specific detail because she was a specifically detailed individual about her voice, her opinions, her views, her music, and her art. And she was so honest. She deserved better.’ 

Deserved better: Though, adding: 'But it was Nina Simone, and Nina had a life and she had a journey that should've been and should be honored to the most specific detail because she was a specifically detailed individual about her voice, her opinions, her views, her music, and her art. And she was so honest. She deserved better'

Deserved better: Though, adding: ‘But it was Nina Simone, and Nina had a life and she had a journey that should’ve been and should be honored to the most specific detail because she was a specifically detailed individual about her voice, her opinions, her views, her music, and her art. And she was so honest. She deserved better’

The apology: Saldana fully issued an apology saying 'I'm sorry, I'm so sorry because I love her music'

Legend: After she was cast, many fans pointed to Simone's work as a civil rights activist and actively battling colorism

Legend: After she was cast, many fans pointed to Simone’s work as a civil rights activist and actively battling colorism

Saldana fully issued an apology saying ‘I’m sorry, I’m so sorry because I love her music.’  

Adding: ‘It wasn’t enough. With that said, she’s one of our giants and someone else should step-up. Somebody else should tell her story.’

Saldana previously defended her casting as Simone in multiple interviews, at the time taking issue was ‘not being black enough’ for the role, which she felt was the criticism. 








Other issues: Along with criticism for Saldana's casting, Nina also faced criticism from the jazz singer's daughter Lisa Simone Kelly, who highly criticized the 'inaccurate' story

Other issues: Along with criticism for Saldana’s casting, Nina also faced criticism from the jazz singer’s daughter Lisa Simone Kelly, who highly criticized the ‘inaccurate’ story

‘I’m black the way I know how to be,’ she said in a 2016 interview with Allure. ‘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.’ 

Along with criticism for Saldana’s casting, Nina also faced criticism from the jazz singer’s daughter Lisa Simone Kelly, who highly criticized the ‘inaccurate’ story. 

 ‘It’s clear she brought her best to this project, but unfortunately she’s being attacked when she’s not responsible for any of the writing or the lies,’ Kelly said defending Saldana but taking issue with the content itself. 



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