The actress was slammed be her critics for wearing “blackface” and a prosthetic nose in order to play the part. Even Simone’s estate responded to Saldana’s tweeting one of Ms. Simone’s lyrics by writing, “Cool story but please take Nina’s name out of your mouth. For the rest of your life.”
Now the actress is confronting her critics head on.
“The script probably would still be lying around, going from office to office, agency to agency, and nobody would have done it. Female stories aren’t relevant enough, especially a black female story,” she said in a cover story for Allure. “I made a choice. Do I continue passing on the script and hope that the ‘right’ black person will do it, or do I say, ‘You know what? Whatever consequences this may bring about, my casting is nothing in comparison to the fact that this story must be told.’”
In addition to validating her decision to take the part, the actress also celebrated the visibility she has brought Simone.
“The fact that we’re talking about her, that Nina Simone is trending? We f—ing won,” she said. “For so many years, nobody knew who the f— she was. She is essential to our American history. As a woman first, and only then as everything else.”
Regarding her skin color, which is much lighter than Simone’s was, Saldana said, “There’s no one way to be black. 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 also commented on her critics’ insults of her prosthetic nose. “I never saw her as unattractive,” she said. “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?”