In addition to Nina Simone's daughter, Zoe Saldaña now has Queen Latifah and Paula Patton in her corner amid the controversy surrounding the biopic, “Nina.”
Speaking at the premiere of “The Perfect Match” on Monday, the two actresses brushed aside the controversy about race and said they are waiting to see how Saldaña does in the title role.
"I think Zoe Saldaña's a great actress, so I am looking forward to it," Latifah said. "And, you know, she is of African descent. I don't see why she shouldn't get to play the role. But I just want to see it — you know, get rid of the hype, and let's go watch the movie."
Simone's daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, and others have decried Saldaña's casting since she took the part in 2012. Her skin was apparently darkened for the role, and she wears a prosthetic nose.
The Simone estate, which cooperated in making the Oscar-nominated documentary, "What Happened, Miss Simone?," recently tweeted: "Hopefully people begin to understand this is painful. Gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, nauseating, soul-crushing."
Patton, though, said she's "not into negativity like that," especially since the film has yet to be released.
"I think it's a horrible thing to put that on somebody," she said Monday. "Clearly someone thought she was perfect for it. She's an amazing actress, she's beautiful and you haven't even given her a chance and you haven't seen it yet."
She added, "Imagine being in her shoes and enduring that. It's not cool, and it's not right. I think we have to be in a place where we celebrate each other and are kind to one another and say there's all different versions of the story and versions of an idea."
Simone Kelly came to Saldaña’s defense recently, saying the attacks of the actress are “unfortunate” and should be re-directed at the studio, producers and the film’s director.
“It’s unfortunate that Zoe Saldaña is being attacked so viciously when she is someone who is part of a larger picture,” Simone Kelly told Time magazine. “It’s clear she brought her best to this project, but unfortunately she’s being attacked when she’s not responsible for any of the writing or the lies."
In "Nina," Saldaña plays the Grammy-winning singer and outspoken civil rights activist, who struggled with depression and alcoholism after finding fame. David Oyelowo co-stars as her stalwart friend, Clifton Henderson, who helped her return to music.
RLJ Entertainment will release "Nina" in theaters and digital HD on April 22. "The Perfect Match" opens Friday.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.