While apparently Zoe Saldana posing nude for the June issue of Allure, is okay, but portraying the legendary Nina Simone is not.
Zoe has portrayed an alien Na’vi in the 2009 film Avatar and she has brought the new version of Lt Uhura to life in the latest Star Trek films and no one has moaned or cried foul at her playing these imaginary, yet incredibly real characters.
But once word got out that the 34 year-old actress was going to play the legendary activist cum pianist and singer in the new film “biography” of Nina Simone there was trouble.
When her name was mentioned as the actor chosen to portray the legendary Simone, a lot of the late legend’s fans (Simone died in April 2003 age) rose up in indignation at the choice. These “nay-sayers” maintain that Zoe doesn’t resemble Simone enough and that the film makers should have picked someone who looked more like her.
India.Arie has said, “they should have chosen someone who looks like Nina Simone,” and on May 5th an online petition for a boycott of the film was launched that has thus far attracted more than 10,000 signatures.
But Zoe has said that she is determined to play Nina in the film. She also says that she was the right choice to play Simone, who was an immense, irascible talent who made an indelible mark on both music and the civil rights movement with songs that included To Be Young, Gifted and Black and Mississippi Goddam.
Saldana said that, “The Nina Simone story needed to be told, and I’m really blessed that I did it.” Zoe, who is a native New Yorker of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent added, “I’m human. I wish I was made of steel and so certain things wouldn’t affect me,”
At a recent London event to promote the screening of Star Trek Into Darkness in which she plays the incredibly gifted multilingual communications officer Lt Uhura, originally brought to the screen by Nichelle Nicols; she spoke of the film role.
She related that the controversy and the complaints about her playing the part of Simone did bother her, at first. She said, “So it did affect me but I couldn’t let that deter me from doing what I needed to do. Just like everybody else I feel very strongly about Nina Simone, and that (this) was a story that needed to be told.”
“I do believe that if everybody had more information about how this all came to be, it might help,” she added. “But then again, I’m not here to get the acceptance of people. I’m here to be an artist first.”
Happily Zoe’s character in this Star Trek movie is larger than the first one in the J J Abrams re-imaging of the series. Saldana was quite excited that she got to do a scene in Klingon saying, “They flew in this linguist from San Francisco who gives courses.”
She added, “You go away for the weekend and you just speak Klingon. It ended up being much easier than I thought.”
Zoe has expressed that she, and the rest of the Star Trek cast have very mixed emotions about J J Abram’s “jumping ship” from the enterprise to the Millennium Falcon and the verse of the Jedi. Since he’s been named as the new director on the 2015 Star Wars, it seems like he won’t be available for the next episode of Star Trek.
Saldana has said that she’d love him to remain as a producer with one of the crew or “possibly one of the writers” stepping in to helm the next voyage into the Star Trek verse. She went on to mention that she didn’t really want a new director to come in and lose what Abram’s started with the reboot.
“There’s been a tone set” with Abrams “movies,” she said, “So much so that it’s made a fan out of me.”
Despite Zoes dedication to the world of Star Trek, she actually admitted that when it comes to science fiction, her alliance lays elsewhere.
When asked if she was an avid fan of either of the two “Star” films she replied, “I’m more of a ‘Dune’ kind of person.”
By Michael Smith