Black is the color of my true love's hair.
September 13, 2012 4:29 PM Subscribe
posted by palindromic (125 comments total)
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Recently, it was announced that Zoe Saldana
has been cast to play Nina Simone
in an upcoming biopic. Objections to this casting decision include references to Simone's own embrace of her own dark-skinned appearance
and have brought up colorism
, which has been noted in other recent films, such as Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, where Harriet Tubman
was depicted by Jacqueline Fleming,
a biracial actress. Colorism is more than the warped preferences of the Hollywood star system, but an issue that affects the daily lives of black American women
. Highlighting the effects of colorism is a short documentary film made by a teenage girl in 2007, "A Girl Like Me,"
which features different girls' takes on, among other social issues relating to black women, the role of skin tone in beauty standards. Simone herself touched on this issue in her song, "Four Women."
While casting actors with lighter skin tones in roles based on real women with darker complexions can be problematic, it represents a progress of sorts from having white women play roles based on real-life women of African descent,
such as Angelina Jolie's depiction of Mariane Pearl, an Afro-Cuban/Chinese/French writer.
In addition to issues of the physical depiction of Ms. Simone, the biopic also includes a "composite character" love interest, who is based largely on Simone's manager Clifton Henderson, a gay man.
For what it's worth, Simone's daughter states that she preferred Viola Davis
or Kimberly Elise
in the role, while Simone herself
wanted to be portrayed by Whoopi Goldberg.