Zoe Saldaña gets emotional as she discusses controversial Nina Simone role

Zoe Saldaña gets emotional as she discusses controversial Nina Simone role
Jul 2023

Zoe Saldana acknowledges the controversy that surrounded her portrayal of Nina Simone. In a new interview with CBS Sunday Morning, Saldana opened up about her new series "Special Ops: Lioness," and about her career, including the harsh criticism she received when playing the role of Simone in the year 2016.
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"I should have never accepted the part," said Saldana. "I am black and nobody will ever tell me how to be black. But as a person of Afro-Latino and African heritage, I have to understand just how complex this conversation needs to be," she said. Saldana also revealed some of the emotional toll that the moment took on her, including the relentless bullying that she faced. "I grew up listening to her," she said tearing up. "I felt like she did sing to me. Because if I don't fit in that world, what other world was I gonna fit in? Definetly not the white world."
Saldana revealed that despite the growth she's experienced over the past years, providing her with the clarity she didn't have in 2016, she says that playing Nina Simone has tainted her relationship with Simone's music. "I felt I hurt her," said Saldana.

"Special Ops: Lioness" stars Saldana and Nicole Kidman, and is developed by Taylor Sheridan, the creator and writer of "Yellowstone." The series is inspired by a real life U.S. military program, following Saldana's character "while she attempts to balance her personal and professional life as the tip of the CIA's spear in the war on terror," per Paramount+.
The series premieres this Sunday, July 23rd.