Don’t worry, Zoe Saldana; not everybody hates the idea of you playing Nina Simone.
With Saldana facing major backlash online over the casting, “Nina” distributor Robert L. Johnson stepped up in defense of the actress on Thursday, saying that she delivers “an exceptional and mesmerizing tribute” to the singer and civil rights activist.
“Zoe Saldana delivers an exceptional and mesmerizing tribute to Nina Simone. She gave her heart and soul to the role and displayed her extraordinary talent,” said Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television, in a statement. Johnson’s RLJ Entertainment is distributing the film.
“The most important thing is that creativity or quality of performance should never be judged on the basis of color, or ethnicity, or physical likeness,” Johnson continued. “Quality entertainment should be measured by the sheer force of creativity and the commitment that an actor or actress brings to the performance.”
Saldana came under heavy fire this week, after an image of Saldana as Simone was released, with many expressing outrage and complaining that Saldana doesn’t resemble Simone.
“That Zoe Saldana pic as Nina Simone looks like the blackface of a bad Halloween or frat party,” another user wrote.