Dear Zoe Saldana: The World Knew About Nina Simone Before Your Biopic

Nina Simone in 1965
Wikimedia Commons
Nina Simone in 1965
Wikimedia Commons

When I was a kid, my grandmother would pull out her old records every Sunday morning. She would grab my hands and I would put my feet on top of hers and we’d dance together. My grandmother was a fan of gospel music, but she also played secular music from time to time.


I remember one time, in particular, a voice came through the speakers, and it immediately had me mesmerized. I asked my grandmother who it was, and she simply said, “Nina.” Being the kid I was, I immediately smiled because it rhymed with my favorite aunt’s name, Tina.

Years later I remember walking onto the campus of Rutgers University for the start of my freshman year. There were credit card and poster vendors everywhere. I stopped at one poster seller and looked through her stock. Poster after poster, there were posters of Nina. Every young woman who stopped picked up a Nina poster. You couldn’t walk into a dorm room and not run into Nina. It didn’t matter the ethnicity of the student in that room—rest assured that there'd be a poster of Nina.

But let Zoe Saldana tell it in a recent interview, she basically did the world a favor and got Nina trending. Basically, Saldana seems to think, before the travesty that was her Nina Simone biopic came into existence, people didn't know about Nina Simone.

We all know that couldn't be further from the truth.

Domestically. Internationally. Nina Simone is a legend. And legends are known.

Nina Simone’s fans did not need a half-assed biopic to educate the world. The world doesn’t need any more miseducation. And that’s the only purpose that biopic served.

Saldana had a lot of nerve to say that the world now knows who Nina Simone is. Believe me, we didn’t need you in a prosthetic nose, dark makeup and a horrible script to let us know who she was. It amazes me that Saldana’s entitlement had her not only thinking she could pull off such a role but also believing that the world would stand by and cheer it on.

The world knows better. The world knows Nina Simone. The world also knew that Simone's story deserved better than what you and the makers of that biopic offered. The world would have been better off with a Colombiana or Avatar sequel (sarcasm).