If You Wanna Play Nina Simone In A Movie About Her Life, It Does Sorta Matter If You're Black Or White

“A large part of Nina Simone’s work and advocacy was prompted by the challenges she faced for having dark-skin and being rejected or criticized because of it. Nina was unapologetic about her brand of beauty and it was reflected in her demeanor and personal aesthetic.”
Tiffani Jones, of Coffee Rhetoric, assails the choice of light-skinned, thin-nosed Zoe Saldana to play Nina Simone in Cynthia Mort’s biopic Nina. (Too bad Mary J. Blige dropped out. That could have been great. Or terrible.) Jones is right, I think. Mort told the Times’ Tanzina Vega that the movie she’s making is not intended to be a strict biography, but rather “a love story about an artist’s journey into herself.” I would say that’s cool, and go ahead and make that movie, and take and credit inspiration from Nina Simone as you’re doing so. But maybe change the name of your protagonist? That’s a real problem with the whole notion of “biopic,” particularly if you then get to make such a thing as an apolitical movie about Nina Simone. And it all goes back to Oliver Stone’s JFK. Which was such a disaster and really a bad thing for the world.