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Zoe Saldana Apologizes For Playing Nina Simone Amid Backlash For 2016 Film: “She Deserved Better”

Guardians of the Galaxy actress Zoe Saldana addressed the controversy surrounding her casting as Nina Simone in the 2016 biopic Nina.

Saldana sat down with Pose creator and executive producer Steven Canals Tuesday for a conversation about diversity, activism and identity on Bese’s Instagram page. When the question about the Nina casting came up, Salanda, who is of Puerto Rican descent, answered that she should not have ever agreed to take on the role.

“I should’ve tried everything in my power to cast a Black woman to play and exceptionally perfect Black woman,” Saldana told Canals in the Instagram interview. “It was painful. I thought back then that I had the permission because I was a Black woman.”

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The Cynthia Mort-directed biopic about the legendary vocalist saw Saldana don prosthetics and makeup to make her skin appear darker. The actress received backlash from a number of critics, including Simone’s own daughter, about her film transformation when the the film first came into the spotlight.

Saldana went on to say that the late singer’s life needed a better portrayal than the one she offered with the 2016 film.

“Nina had a life and 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 and her views and her music and her art,” she said to Canals. “She was so honest so she deserved better.”

Saldana’s apology and the outcry about her casting comes at a time when shows have pulled Blackface episodes from streaming platforms and various industry players have demanded increased diversity in Hollywood staff and others have voiced support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

The conversation about proper representation and accountability is one the actress does not want to shy from, Saldana told the Pose creator. Instead, it’s one she wants to encourage and learn from.

“It’s a conversation I want to have. I am going to be open to this conversation so we can grow from it and give back to ourselves and and each other,” she said.”

Watch the full interview below.

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