Zoe Saldana has finally poked her head out to see whether it's safe to take off her Miss Congeniality crown. The actress was restrained while the public and the estate of Nina Simone expressed outrage over her being cast in the biopic Nina, but in an interview with Allure, months after the film's release, Saldana clapped back.
"'There's no one way to be black,' she says quietly and slowly, clearly choosing her words carefully. '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 appears to still be missing the point. People were upset that the producers went to the lengths of giving her prosthetic teeth, darkening her skin and widening her nose, as opposed to, say, just finding a talented actress who would not require such a drastic transformation in order to play the legendary singer. As Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote for The Atlantic, "...there is something deeply shameful—and hurtful—in the fact that even today a young Nina Simone would have a hard time being cast in her own biopic. In this sense, the creation of Nina is not a neutral act. It is part of the problem."
Saldana tells the beauty mag that she passed on the script for a year before deciding she'd rather get Simone's story out there than wait for a more publicly accepted actress to come along. "I made a choice. Do I continue passing on the script and hope that the 'right' black person will do it, or do I say, 'You know what? Whatever consequences this may bring about, my casting is nothing in comparison to the fact that this story must be told.'"
She goes on to take credit for making Simone hot again, saying, "The fact that we're talking about her, that Nina Simone is trending? We fucking won. ... For so many years, nobody knew who the fuck she was. She is essential to our American history. As a woman first, and only then as everything else."
Lastly, Saldana tells haters to step up to the plate if they think they can do Simone justice. "'Let it be the first movie,' Saldana says. 'If you think you can do it better, then by all means. Let ours be version number one of ten stories in the next ten years about the fucking iconic person that was Nina Simone.'"
You can read the full cover shoot interview here.