“I think Zoe Saldana is a great actress, so I am looking forward to it,” Latifah told the Associated Press at Monday’s premiere of “The Perfect Match.” “She is of African descent — I don’t see why she shouldn’t play the role. I just want to see it. Get rid of the hype and let’s go watch a movie.”
Paula Patton, a cast member in the Billie Woodruff comedy, added, “I’m not into negativity like that. It’s a horrible thing to put on somebody. Clearly, someone thought she was perfect for it — she’s an amazing actress, she’s beautiful — and you haven’t even given her a chance and you haven’t seen it.”
Patton also added, “Imagine being in her shoes and enduring that. It’s not cool, and it’s not right … Give her a shot, try to enjoy it and stop judging.”
Last week, shortly after the official poster for “Nina” was released, fans took to Twitter to point out that Saldana looks nothing like Simone, the singer-songwriter and civil rights activist whose struggle to balance music, family and personal political beliefs found her living alone in France, feeling exiled from her native U.S.
“Zoe Saldana looks nothing like Nina Simone #FAIL not even close,” tweeted one user. “Why not just Will Smith to do it?” In 2012, rumors circulated that Saldana would play Simone, and the response was overwhelmingly negative, with fans saying Saldana is too light-skinned to portray the singer.
Even Simone’s Twitter handle slammed the actress after Saldana quoted Simone on Twitter.
In 2014, an image was released in which Saldana’s nose had been altered with a prosthetic. Many took to Twitter to suggest that Saldana’s casting was a form of blackface.
“Nina” hits theaters on Apr. 22 and is written and directed by Cynthia Mort.