Years after the bombshell Nina Simone biopic was released, Zoe Saldana is apologizing.
On Tuesday, the actress spoke with Pose creator Steven Canals about portraying the singer and proclaimed, “I should have never played Nina.”
“I should have done everything in my power with the leverage that I had 10 years ago, which was different leverage, but it was leverage nonetheless. I should have done everything in my power to cast a Black woman to play an exceptionally perfect Black woman.”
For the film, Saldana darkened her skin and wore a prosthetic nose in order to look more like Simone. The film was not endorsed by Simone’s estate, which when promotion for the film began, tweeted at Saldana: “Cool story but please take Nina’s name out your mouth. For the rest of your life.”
Saldana was also understandably met with harsh criticism which she met defensively. Saldana previously defended her portrayal of the legendary soul singer. In 2013 she told Latina magazine:
“Let me tell you, if Elizabeth Taylor can be Cleopatra, I can be Nina — I’m sorry. It doesn’t matter how much backlash I will get for it. I will honor and respect my Black community because that’s who I am.”
She also echoed those same sentiments to Allure in 2016:
“I made a choice. Do I continue passing on the script and hope that the ‘right’ Black person will do it, or do I say, ‘You know what? Whatever consequences this may bring about, my casting is nothing in comparison to the fact that this story must be told. — For so many years, nobody knew who the f**k she was. She is essential to our American history. As a woman first, and only then as everything else.”
However, in her recent interview, the actress is much more humble to the faults to star in the Nina Simone biopic.
“I thought back then that I had the permission [to play her] because I was a Black woman,” the Afro-Latinx actress of Dominican, Haitian and Puerto Rican descent said.
“And I am. But it was Nina Simone. And Nina had a life and she had a journey that should have been — and should be — honored to the most specific detail because she was a specifically detailed individual. She deserved better.”
Crying, Saldana added, “With that said: I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I know better today, and I’m never going to do that again.”
However with growth comes better understanding and while the 42-year-old actress can’t remove this colorism blunder from her resume, she can take full accountability for her actions.
Watch the full interview below.