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"It's painful": A tearful Zoe Saldana apologizes for Nina Simone biopic

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In an interview on Instagram Live with Pose creator Steven Canals, Zoe Saldana tearfully confessed she regretted portraying Nina Simone in Nina, a widely-panned 2016 biopic of the legendary singer and social activist’s life.

“It’s painful,” an emotional Saldana said, “I should have tried everything in my power to cast a Black woman to play an exceptionally perfect Black woman.”

Saldana is of Haitian, Puerto Rican and Lebanese descent. However, her skin was darkened to play the role, and she wore prosthetics in an attempt to more closely approximate the singer’s appearance, which led to widespread criticism at the time. 

“I thought back then that I had the permission, because I was a Black woman,” Saldana said of playing the role as she did. “And I am, but it was Nina Simone. And Nina had a life and a … journey that should be honored to the most specific detail…She deserved better.”

Her voice breaking, Saldana added, “With that said, I’m so sorry. Because I love her music…She’s one of our giants. Somebody else should step up and tell her story.”



By Stephen Iervolino
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