From her music, you can gather that India.Arie is not one to accept politics as usual. Armed with humility, respect, a lot of ALL CAPS, and Twitter, the acoustic soul singer recently decided to voice her opinion on the questionable choices being made for the now highly controversial Nina Simone biopic. We’re probably never going to hear the end of this one…

In a tweet simply entitled “WHAT I FEEL ABOUT THE NINA SIMONE MOVIE,” India.Arie spanned all of her emotions as she opined on the choice to cast Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone and the pictures of the actor in blackface (call a spade a spade). There’s bewilderment: “this just looks WEIRD, it looks like a person in Black(er) face with a fake nose .. REALLY?!” There’s indignation: “DOES NOT THE ONE NINA SIMONE’S LEGACY DESERVE BETTER THAN THIS?” Anger: “THIS looks like a parody. if it has to be FORCED this hard somethings not right! i DO NOT LIKE these PICTURES. AT ALL.” Sarcasm: “If they were going to pick a person who looks NOTHING like Nina Simone… why not her Daughter Simone *shrug* just saying…” And finally, sadness: “these Images … just make me feel … Sad.”

All of India.A’s emotions stem from the irony that, as she points out in her post, Nina had to struggle because of her appearance. For her, as for many other Black women in the entertainment industry, opportunities were contingent on her skin, nose, and lips. The casting of Zoe Saldana barred more fitting Black women from getting work on the role, and in doing so spit on the struggles Nina endured.

While India finds dishonor in the casting choice, she does hold back judging Zoe Saldana. She writes “you NEVER know what People are MEANT to do,” suggesting that perhaps the actor was “BEING CALLED SPIRITUALLY TO PLAY THIS ROLE…” Coming from a Caribbean island and Christian household, I’m not really supposed to question the spirits… but really spirits?


  • chuckles

    People should just not go see the movie.
    There isn’t a biopic that has enhanced an artist, no matter who the actor or who they portray.
    The magic of Nina Simone (and Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, whoever) is in their music. No movie can truly bring (back) to life the person it portrays or add anything to the music they have already produced.

    Buy the records. Listen to them. Forget that Hollywood is cheapening her.

  • YCBS

    I have to agree with Chuckles above.
    These biopics never do the artist justice anyway, but this takes the case it’s pitiful…

    You Can’t Be Serious

  • D.Owens=3

    Haters!!! I guess we should of got a blind man to play Ray Charles huh!!!!! She just mad they did’nt pick her ass!!! Saldana is very talented. STFU until you see the final product!!!

    • Raydio

      I mean, but at least Jamie Foxx looked like Ray Charles, no? And he could sing… But I’m with you — I’ll wait for the final product.

    • D.Owens=3

      I’m sayin let’s stop Willie Lynchin each other.

  • J-Dubb

    I do not have all the details on the Great Nina Simone’s life. All I have is her music. I just hope that this movie does not just exploit something negative or a personal demon she was dealing with. When it should focus on her influence and her beauty. But I’ll wait for the final product also. However, if anybody has the right to say what they want about Nina Simone, it’s India Arie.

  • india.Arie should have gotten the part.

  • ThatGuy

    I get what yall are saying about “stop hatin” and “stop judging” and all…but if her family didn’t even co-sign on the story, and they’re putting some stuff in that might not be accurate…that’s dangerous. Many people don’t know about Nina Simone, so this will be their introduction (as most folks just don’t care enough to do the research). So I’d hope that they put some time and thought into it. But I agree with the writer that there’s certainly a level of irony that they’re having issues representing her image. It’s unfortunate. And I’m #TeamIndia on this one.

  • saayes

    I’d have to say I’m pretty torn.

    I’m a fan of both Nina, India.Arie and Zoe Saldana and their work. If it were up to me I’d immediately choose from a music. Why not have a musician play a musician? That was one of the soothing elements of Ray. Jamie Foxx is an actual musician, but he’s also an actor. Is India an actress? (Serious questions) Even if she wasn’t I would still pick her.

    In the defense of Zoe I keep going back to Spike Lee’s Malcolm X. Of course Denzel does not look like Malcolm, but you can’t tell me he didn’t PLAY the part.

    Give Zoe a chance…but I hear ya India.

  • Pony Boy Mary

    The truth is jealousy and hate. Insecurity because of looks.
    this is a movie ! why not the make up ? why not judge her on the acting ability? Im black and I know for sure its jealousy ! darker blacks sometimes hate on lighter ,especially girls with so called good hair .
    Its ashamed to try to cover it up with all the other reasons ,they don’t agree with Zoe playing the roll ,but its just as the ugly truth ,Jealousy.