After years of controversy and production issues, the biopic, Nina—in which Zoe Saldana plays singer Nina Simone—has finally released its first trailer and will hit theaters next month.
The film tells the story of the late jazz singer's rise to fame as well as her relationship with her nurse-turned-manager, Clifton Henderson (played by David Oyelowo).
News of Saldana's casting for the role was announced in 2012, and people immediately began criticizing the decision, questioning why producers would choose an actress of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent to represent Simone, who was of African American descent and whose darker skin played a major role in her success and impact on society.
The film's poster (released earlier this week) only added fuel to the fire as it appears Saldana is wearing darker makeup and a prosthetic nose, which some Twitter users claimed equates to "black face."
However, in watching the trailer, Saldana definitely provides strong evidence for why producers chose her for the role. From raw moments of emotion to scenes that made us laugh, the actress' talent in the trailer itself is quite clear.
In fact, Oyelowo previously said he was incredibly surprised by her skill throughout the film.
"I think a lot of people are going to be surprised of the sheer power of her," he told us at the 2012 Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon. "She went to work. She is a huge admirer of Nina Simone and that crept into what she did. She wanted to tell the truth and every day we were on that set, that's what I saw"
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Saldana also suggested critics and fans alike see the movie before making any conclusions about the casting decision.
"People are going to want to outcast you and put you someplace and it's like, you can have any opinion about it, and that is fine, as long as you understand that it's going to come second to how I feel about myself," she told Latina magazine at the time of her casting.
She continued, explaining why she refused to give up the role despite her critics: "I was already a part of this project and my priority was Nina, and the love that I feel for this woman, for her music and what she left us. Let's all give ourselves a chance to watch it and then make a decision."
Nina will be released in theaters April 22.