2016's Nina was a terrible biopic about Nina Simone that is best remembered (if it’s remembered at all) because of the ceaseless controversy that developed when Zoe Saldana was cast to star as Nina Simone—despite the fact that she looks basically nothing like the legendary singer. Saldana’s skin was darkened and she wore a prosthetic nose to better resemble Simone, but it didn’t do much to convince critics that the casting was even close to being a good idea (though not much about the movie, which focused on a fictionalized version of the final years of Simone’s life rather than her actual career, seemed like it was a good idea).
Now, nearly a decade after she was first cast (would you believe Nina sat on a shelf for a while?), Saldana has apologized and acknowledged that it was wrong for her to play Nina Simone and that “someone else” should get a chance to step up and tell Simone’s story properly. This came up in an interview with Pose creator Steven Canals on the Instagram page for Saldana’s BeSe, and it sounds like she really feels bad that her decision to be in the movie detracted from the potential for Simone’s music to become better known to a wide audience.
Saldana says she figured she “had the permission” to play Simone because she is a Black woman, but she now recognizes that Simone “had a life and she had a journey that should be honored to the most specific detail, because she was a specifically detailed individual, about her voice, her opinions, her music, her art, her views. And she deserved better.” Saldana also notes that she’s not going to let people make her feel “less than,” but she says she wants to be open about mistakes she’s made.