Since the casting of Zoe Saldana as Nina in 2012, the self-named biopic, much debate has been sparked around the decision. This reached an all-time high in March of this year when pictures surfaced of the actress in dark makeup and a prosthetic nose.
Saldana has since responded to critics in an Allure interview where she states “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.”
And I can appreciate that. I can only imagine how difficult and frustrating it must be to be, not just a woman, but a woman of colour in an industry infamous for its casual disregard towards diversity and problematic tokenism. Therefore, to receive huge backlash from the black community for this role, the role of an icon who symbolised so much in terms of political activism and the reclaiming of beauty on non-Eurocentric terms must be crushing. But Zoe, you need to understand that this isn’t about you.
This is about a woman who was refused admittance to the Curtis Institute of Music, which she believed was on the grounds of her race.
This is about a woman who wrote a song entitled ‘Images’ with the haunting lyrics “She does not know her beauty/She thinks her brown body has no beauty.”
This is about a woman who, during her years as a successful performer, wrote herself a note which read “I can’t be white and I’m the kind of colored girl who looks like everything white people despise or have been taught to despise”.