Hollywood will soon be presenting us with another biopic of an infamous musician. There have been many great biopics over the years; Ray – flawless performance from Jamie Foxx, What’s Love Got To Do With It – Tina Turner, portrayed by the phenomenal Angela Bassett (she should have won an Oscar!), Walk the Line, mesmerising…….Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash. All these films have been thought provoking, stimulating and alluring. Exploring the lives of artists that we know for their work but unknowing of the demons, insecurity and fear that plagued and hindered their brilliance.
Judging by the standard of biopics that Hollywood produces, I was excited to know that finally there will be a film based on one of my favourite musicians, the “High Priestess of Soul”, Nina Simone. A women who was strong willed, intelligent and passionate. A civil right activist, a women who fought to be heard, who disregarded the insults, the constant derogatory comments that depicted her dark skin, big features, her voice, her soul, her. She fought against restriction and spoke out loud of the racial inequality of 1960’s America.
I was excited and amazed that Hollywood had decided to produce a film with a black actress as the lead….not a supporting role, but a LEAD.
So who I began to wonder……who is going to play the legendary Ms. Simone?
Award winning Actress, renowned performances in The Help (2011), Doubt (2008).
First female solo artists awarded five Grammys in one year. Plus her personal life, and journey as a musician bears some similarities to Nina Simone.
Anika Noni Rose
A familiar face on screen, American singer and actress known for Dream Girls and my personal favourite No1 Ladies Detective Agency.
Rising star and new girl on the block…..starred in Gossip Girl.
NO to Viola, NO to Lauryn, NO to Anika and No to Tika.
Instead Hollywood decides to presents us with Latina actress Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone. Yes that women that played that blue avatar thing, has been hailed as the BEST option for Nina Simone. An actress, whose beauty is prevailing but performance is like a Victoria sponge cake; nice, sweet, safe, WTF.
My question is; Why does Hollywood continue to disregard talented dark skinned actresses?
Ok, I know some of you may be thinking, what’s the problem, Zoe Saldana is a great actress, she’s not exactly blonde with blue eyes, so yeah she would have struggled to make it in Hollywood. If you are thinking this, then I can only suggest that you read between the lines and think!
Although Zoe Saldana, is talented within her own right, it takes more than just talent to portray an iconic black women such as Nina Simone. I believe that it is imperative for a dark skinned black actress to play Nina Simone, as the experiences of dark skinned black women in a western environment, is something that a Latina actress to a certain extent cannot comprehend. Nina’s music was fuelled by her experiences as a dark skinned black African American. As a black civil rights activist she constantly expressed her desire for black people to be heard, for their mistreatment to be recognised and rectified. Anyone who listens to songs such as To Be Young, Gifted and Black, Black is the Color of my True Loves Hair, Four Women, knows that her songs clearly highlighted her perception of the different treatment that an individual received based on their complexion.
So why, would Hollywood disrespect that and cast Dominican-Puerto Rican, mulata, chica Zoe Saldana.
Is it the case of Hollywood white washing roles?
A similar situation which hit the internet forums was the casting of the anticipated film Half of a Yellow Sun. A novel by the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, published in 2006 by Knopf/Anchor. It tells the story of two sisters, Olanna and Kainene, during the Biafra War. The character Olanna is described in the book as a curvaceous, a beautiful London educated Nigerian women. However the slim, non-west African looking Thandie Newton was cast as the leading role of Olanna. Taking precedence over many well know British- West African actresses that in my opinion may of been a better choice.
The reason that are sighted by producers for such castings are: that actress that look like Thandie Newton and Zoe Saldana can green light a film. Really? Funny, that……..because the last time I checked Viola Davis was actress of the moment and had received more nominations and recognition for her performance than Zoe Saldana. Yet Hollywood disregards this fact and continues to underhand roles for black actresses.
Pues Senorita Saldana buena suerte!
You not only have the pressure of Hollywood on your back, but a number of black women hoping that you play Nina right, for your sake! If all else fails, you can continue to ride the wave of Hollywood on your beauty and charm with the gorgeous Bradley Cooper on your arm.
One thing is for sure, I am curious as to whether Zoe can really pull this out of the bag?
Will they spray her skin to make her darker?
Will they give her a prosthetic nose and lips resembling Nina’s?
Who knows, I guess I will just have to wait and see.
I am not a writer, just a blabber, a girl that asks many questions but never knows how to collate the answers. Just a normal girl with nothing more to say, than words that mean nothing but say something.