Zoe Saldana Apologizes for Playing Nina Simone in Controversial Biopic

Zoe Saldana and Nina Simone (Credit: Deposit Photos/Stock Image)

Zoe Saldana recently apologized for playing Nina Simone in the 2016 film Nina.

The actress was heavily criticized for reportedly putting on darker makeup and wearing a prosthetic nose to fit the role. Simone’s estate did not endorse the film, and the late singer’s daughter questioned the casting decision when it was announced. Anger around the casting was heightened by Simone’s legacy as a civil rights activist and iconic figure of the 1960s.

In an Instagram Live interview on Tuesday, Saldana admitted: “I should have never played Nina.”

“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,” Saldana said. “I should have done everything in my power to cast a Black woman to play an exceptionally perfect Black woman.”

Related Story: Tyler Perry Shot ‘A Fall From Grace’ in 5 Days, Movie Critics Say ‘It Shows’

With tears in her eyes, the Dominican and Puerto Rican actress continued: “I thought back then that I had the permission because I was a Black woman. And I am. But it was Nina Simone, and Nina had a life and she had a journey that should be honored to the most specific detail, because she was a specifically detailed individual.”

The film was in development for years and debuted in April 2016. Critics immediately panned the movie, and it currently holds an abysmal 2 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Among the criticism, Los Angeles Times reviewer Katie Walsh wrote that the movie “never seems authentic or real, just a bizarrely staged re-creation.”

Saldana previously responded to the criticism in an interview with Latina magazine: “Let me tell you, if Elizabeth Taylor can be Cleopatra, I can be Nina — I’m sorry. It doesn’t matter how much backlash I will get for it. I will honor and respect my Black community because that’s who I am.”

Now, the actress has had a change of heart, admitting “she deserved better.”

“With that said, I’m sorry,” she said. “I know better today and I’m never going to do that again.”

Watch the full interview below.