The ‘Avator’ star was criticised by Nina Simone’s family, who are against the biopic about the jazz singer and civil rights activist, following the release of the movie’s trailer, while many Twitter users complained about Zoe’s appearance as the teaser showed her sporting a prosthetic nose and a darker skin tone for the role.
A friend of the actress has now spoken out, insisting Zoe – whose father was from the Dominican Republic, while her mother is from Puerto Rico – is not bothered by the backlash and was expecting it because she is not African/American.
The source told the New York Post newspaper: “This started three years ago. They actually thought the project was shelved, but it’s coming out and she’s proud of it. There’s always controversy [over] ‘is she Latin or isn’t she Latin,’ so she’s used to that, but this is different for her.”
Zoe was chosen for the role in 2012 and she has admitted she expected her casting to cause controversy. The 37-year-old actress previously said: “I didn’t think I was right for the part, and I know a lot of people will agree, but then again, I don’t think Elizabeth Taylor was right for Cleopatra either.
“An artist is colourless, genderless … It’s more complex than just, ‘Oh, you chose the Halle Berry look-alike to play a dark, strikingly beautiful, iconic black woman.’ The truth is, they chose an artist who was willing to sacrifice herself. We needed to tell her story because she deserves it.”
After the trailer was released the official Nina Simone Twitter account, which is now run by her estate, posted: “Please take Nina’s name out your mouth. For the rest of your life … Hopefully people begin to understand this is painful. Gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, nauseating, soul-crushing. It shall pass, but for now… (sic)”
Zoe has not spoken out about the criticism, but her pal insists she “loves the film”
‘Nina’ is set to be released in April.