A day after the uproar over casting Zoe Saldana in the Nina Simone biopic Nina re-erupted online, Robert L. Johnson, head of the film’s distributor RLJ Entertainment, has issued a statement defending the choice. Saldana, who is of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent, will reportedly be wearing a prosthetic nose, and have a noticeably darker shade of skin for the film. In his statement, Johnson praised her performance in the film, calling it “an exceptional and mesmerizing tribute to Nina Simone.” Furthermore, he argued, “creativity or quality of performance should never be judged on the basis of color, or ethnicity, or physical likeness. Quality entertainment should be measured by the sheer force of creativity and the commitment that an actor or actress brings to the performance.”
Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone.