Zoe Saldana has tearfully apologized for portraying Nina Simone in a widely criticized 2016 biopic.
“I should have never played Nina,” Saldana — who wore a prosthetic nose and darkened her skin for the role — admitted during an interview with “Pose” creator Steven Canals on Instagram Live on Tuesday.
“I should have done everything in my power with the leverage that I had 10 years ago, which was a different leverage, but it was leverage nonetheless,” she continued. “I should have done everything in my power to cast a black woman to play an exceptionally perfect black woman.”
Saldana previously defended her decision to play the late singer and civil rights activist.
She addressed the backlash to the role at the time tweeting a quote from Simone, “I’ll tell you what freedom is to me — Not fear… I mean really, no fear,” which prompted the singer’s estate to respond scathingly, “Cool story but please take Nina’s name out of your mouth. For the rest of your life.”
“There’s no one way to be black. I’m black the way I know how to be. You have no idea who I am. I am black. I’m raising black men. Don’t you ever think you can look at me and address me with such disdain,” she said during an interview with Allure in 2016.
The Marvel star, who is of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent, is now saying that Simone “deserved better.”
“I thought back then that I had the permission [to play her] because I was a black woman,” Saldana 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.”
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