NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - In 2012, a Nina Simone biopic made headlines by casting actress Zoë Saldana as the iconic singer. The film centers around Simone's relationship with her manager, played by David Oyelowo. A newly released trailer is reigniting a race debate.
Saldana commands the box office with the versatility of a chameleon, bringing foreign species to life in "Avatar" and "Guardians of the Galaxy." But her latest transformation into an iconic member of her own race is sparking visceral outrage.
Filmmakers darkened Saldana's light skin, widened her nose with prosthetics, and added texture to her hair.
The controversy began back in 2012 when Saldana replaced Mary J. Blige in the lead role. Saldana is Dominican, and identifies as a black and Latina woman. But many believe the role belongs to an actress born with Simone's African features.
Saldana tweeted a Simone quote the day the trailer came out, unleashing the internet's wrath, including a message from the official verified account for Simone's estate: "Cool story but please take Nina's name out your mouth. For the rest of your life."
Nina's only daughter Lisa, who does not run the estate's official account, is defending Saldana, telling Time magazine Saldana is "part of a larger picture," one that is likely motivated by Hollywood's bottom line.