Tearful Zoe Saldana Says She ‘Should Have Never’ Played Nina Simone In Biopic: ‘I Know Better Today’

Zoe Saldana regrets her decision to play legendary singer Nina Simone, issuing a tearful apology during an Instagram Live conversation with “Pose” co-creator Steven Canals.

Saldana’s casting as Simone in the 2016 biopic “Nina” caused a stir at the time, due to the fact that Saldana, who is Afro-Latinx, darkened her light skin and wore prosthetics to play the role.

“I should have never played Nina,” Saldana says now. “I should have done everything in my power with the leverage that I had 10 years ago, which was a different leverage but it was leverage nonetheless, I should have tried everything in my power to cast a Black woman to play an exceptionally perfect Black woman.”

Suzanne Tenner/Nina Productions
Suzanne Tenner/Nina Productions

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Saldana says she thought it would be okay for her to play Simone because she was a Black woman.

“I thought back then that I had the permission because I was a Black woman. And I am. But, it’s Nina. And Nina had a life and a journey that should be honoured to the specific detail,” she says, adding that she really wanted to bring Simone’s story to the screen.

“We’ve been appropriating ourselves with someone like Nina Simone for a very long time. And I just want her story to be told and I want it to be right because she deserves it,” Saldana admits.

“I’m so sorry because I love her music. I know better today and I’m never going to do that again. Never,” she says.

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Back in 2016, the actress defended her casting to Allure, saying, “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?” she addressed her critics who also said she was too “pretty” to play the singer. “I never saw her as unattractive. Nina looks like half my family! But if you think the [prosthetic] nose I wore was unattractive, then maybe you need to ask yourself, What do you consider beautiful? Do you consider a thinner nose beautiful, so the wider you get, the more insulted you become?”

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