By Nick Campbell:
Nina Simone, Jazz singer, pianist, and songwriter. Also known as a civil rights activist, she embodied the black movement of the time. She sung during an era where your voice and not your looks dictated your success. Her music style was like a fusion of Gospel, Blues, and R&B. Her music wasn’t on the glittery Beyonce style hype, or gimmicky Nicki Minaj type music. Hearing her music was the experience of being in a jook joint somewhere in the south. A hot and muggy environment coupled with cigarette smoke. Old school style.. Nina Simone was gritty with her music. Her pro black stance socially mixed with her black nationalistic cuts made White America a bit nervous. She also embraced her dark chocolate skin tone and reminded us on many occasions how beautiful her black was. How beautiful OUR black was and still is. So as a fan of her and the music catalog she blessed us with, I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow when the actress Zoe Saldana was cast to play her in a biopic. I’ve got no qualms with Zoe Saldana, she’s a beautiful latina women and she’s very talented. Herein lies the problem…
A Latino woman in black face and prosthetics.. to portray a dark-skinned Black woman.
Is it just me or does Hollywood feel the need to water down and over glamorize characters in black culture? When Denzel played Malcolm X, they didn’t lighten his complexion to match Malcolm’s real life lightness. Denzel is pretty tall too, but the real Malcolm X would’ve towered over Denzel at 6’4. Yet Spike Lee felt no need to alter Denzel at all. Why do Hollywood producers constantly do this? Is it possible they are presuming to form these character roles because of what we cheer in popular culture? Could they be observing how Beyonce is so adored but Kelly Rowland played the second fiddle? We control the demographics because we are the demographics. But you’d be surprised how much data they track!
It’s a slap in the face to a woman as strong as Nina..
The process in which directors placed Saldana in the role of Nina Simone is akin to taking a white man and putting him in makeup to play Eddie Murphy. Let’s be frank here, it’s not like Nina was super fine or glamorous. Remember, she didn’t need to be back then. The music era was all about the voice and talent. It’s our generation that’s hung up on looks, but is that why Hollywood feels the need to water down the black experience? It’s beyond frustrating to see the industry over glamorize our different shades of brown and usually on the lighter side of it. You mean to tell me India Arie, who’s an actual singer by the way, wasn’t available? There was no actress or singers out there that could’ve easily fit the bill of the real person?
Hey Hollywood! Stop stereotyping us..
Really..We’re not fooled by the black face you put “other” actors and actresses in to appear like us. You’re better off just casting the real deal. You have a great incentive to do this, because when you do this we’ll actually pay attention to your movie and not the absurd black face job on Zoe Saldana. Black people come in all forms and all shades of brown. Embrace that instead of side stepping and essentially rejecting it. When you reject that you reject us your audience. Do you feel that a lighter skinned black woman is somehow prettier and thus more appealing than a dark skinned woman? We don’t seem to think that’s the case, so why do you? True, the black community has an eternal debate that’s taken place about light vs dark complexions. That’s our internal struggle, but it’s not yours. Stop exploiting it. I refuse to even watch this new biopic on bootleg! And I’m a huge Nina fan.
Till next time TRP!