Robert Johnson Continues To Defend Zoe Saldana’s Portrayal Of Nina Simone
A couple weeks ago, we reported that BET founder Bob Johnson had hopped in the phone booth and donned his cape for Zoe Saldana’s inflammatory portrayal of Nina Simone.
In speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, the film’s distributor continues to try to convince black people that they should support this garbage…
Two weeks after the trailer for Nina hit the Internet and caused an outcry over Zoe Saldana’s heavily altered appearance as Nina Simone, the film’s distributor is speaking to reporters in defense of the project.
Critics of Nina, a biopic from U.K.-based Ealing Studios Entertainment, have protested the casting of Saldana, a light-skinned actress of Afro-Latina descent, to portray the legendary high priestess of soul, claiming that Simone’s physical appearance as a dark-skinned black woman had a major impact on her life and career.
“It’s unfortunate that African-Americans are talking about this in a way that hearkens back to how we were treated when we were slaves,” says RLJ Entertainment founder and chair Robert L. Johnson, who also founded BET. “The slave masters separated light-skinned blacks from dark-skinned blacks, and some of that social DNA still exists today among many black people.”
Now, in his one-on-one interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Johnson cites arguments against Saldana’s skin tone as akin to in-group discriminatory practices like the brown paper bag test, wherein certain black community gatherings would only admit individuals whose skin was lighter than the bag. “That’s where some of this comes from, when you hear people saying that a light-skinned woman can’t play a dark-skinned woman when they’re both clearly of African descent,” he says. “To say that if I’m gonna cast a movie, I’ve gotta hold a brown paper bag up to the actresses and say, ‘Oh sorry, you can’t play her.’ Who’s to decide when you’re black enough?”
Johnson clearly is passionate about the subject and had plenty more to say regarding the backlash. “As an African-American, I will gladly engage anyone on this question of should we be talking about how light or how dark you should be to play a role,” he says. “Many people who are talking about it don’t even realize what they’re getting into. Imagine if I were to do a biopic about Lena Horne, who’s obviously light-skinned, or Dorothy Dandridge. Would it be fair if I put up a sign that said ‘No black women apply’? That would be ridiculous. Black Americans should know better than to have this discussion over a creative project. We’re not talking about white against black. We’re talking about black against black.”
This fool goes on to say…
“Make the judgment on the talent of the actors, make the judgment on the writing, but don’t make it on whether or not Zoe Saldana is as black as Nina. You can always say, ‘Gee, I can find somebody who’s blacker,'” Johnson says. “Let’s talk about [the film] in terms of giving talented African-Americans a chance to play roles that they’re qualified to play.”
Clearly Bobby Boy missed the ENTIRE point. If Zoe was gonna play a lighter-skinned, thinner-nosed version of Nina Simone, then cool.
BUT DON’T DARKEN HER F***IN’ SKIN AND PUT A FAKE NOSE ON HER AND THEN PREACH TO US ABOUT WHO IS ENTITLED TO PLAY WHO!