When I saw the latest still from Zoe Saldana's movie Nina, I laughed. Here was Zoe with her light brown skin darkened and her nose seemingly altered with a prosthetic in order to portray the incomparable Nina Simone. I laughed because now, months after the news first came out that Zoe was going to play Nina Simone in the bio-pic, months after the first pictures of her in blackface and an afro wig emerged, months after Zoe defended herself by saying she was making the movie for her “brothas and sistahs,” I am no longer angry.
I had been angry at first because, to me, hiring a lighter skinned actress, no matter how talented she might be, felt like a slap in the fact to Nina Simone’s memory, a slap in the face to the darker actresses who could have played her (Adepero Oduye, for instance), and a slap in the face to all dark-skinned black women who have been fiercely and unapologetically themselves in a world where light skin is always seen as better.
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