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BET Founder Releases Statement Regarding Nina Simone Controversy

(AllHipHop News) After the estate of Nina Simone, Twitter and media world have had their way with the Zoe Saldana’s portrayal of Nina Simone in the up coming project NINA, Robert L. Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET) has issued a statement in regards to the NINA film controversy.
Refusing to a accept the criticisms for the RLJ Entertainment project that will be distributed in the Fall of 2015, Johnson said that the “creativity or quality of performance should never be judged on the basis of color, or ethnicity, or physical likeness.”
Check out the full quote below from BET founder Robert L Johnson:
“Zoe Saldana delivers an exceptional and mesmerizing tribute to Nina Simone.  She gave her heart and soul to the role and displayed her extraordinary talent.   The most important thing is that creativity or quality of performance should never be judged on the basis of color, or ethnicity, or physical likeness.  Quality entertainment should be measured by the sheer force of creativity and the commitment that an actor or actress brings to the performance.  We are proud to distribute the film headlined by Zoe Saldana and David Oyelowo on April 22, 2016.” –  Robert L. Johnson
For those needing a re-hash on their Black music history, Nina Simone was a prominent figure throughout the Civil Rights movement for addressing racial inequality in her songs (see “Mississippi Goddam,” “To Be Young Gifted And Black” and “Old Jim Crow”)



Many in Hip-Hop will remember Talib Kweli, Kanye West and Timbaland have all famously sampled her version of “Sinnerman.”


While she reportedly believed in a more militant retaliation to the White oppression than Martin Luther King Jr, she did perform and speak at the Selma marches. Her music’s message moved people with influences from classical music, soul, jazz and other forms of music.


Some detractors of the film have taken issue with Zoe Saldana’s use of a darkening make-up and a prosthetic nose during the shoot.


The controversy also is shrouded in additional media attention due to the fact that last week’s Oscars faced criticism for a lack of diversity in its award selection process and for Hollywood’s inaccurate portrayal of historically darker skinned characters.


Check out the trailer and some images below  and let us know what you think!



  • Jose Battaglia

    Ugh, now the Liberals are mad because the black actresses aren’t black enough? OMG, racism would be CURED in America if the Liberals could stop being so freaking racist!!!!

    • The City


    • RazaBladeKing

      Racism can’t be “cured”, and it has no ties to political affiliation. This may be the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen on this site, and that covers a lot of ground.

      • DJ7




  • The Legendary Troll

    honestly i didnt know who she was until this came up. they should be thanking her

    • DJ7

      Take a long walk off a short cliff…didn’t know who she was…FOH pinky

      • The Legendary Troll


      • DJ7

        Nah chump…we both know what it is!

  • K. Lionheart

    This is Robert Johnson’s statement, not BET’s. He doesn’t own BET anymore.

  • Kamal the 1st

    It’s a pretty bad make-up job. She looks like a white woman in blackface.

  • Psyer

    Striking resemblance

  • Psyer

    Lauryn Hill

  • Q.

    …Like there are no dark-skinned actresses with similar features they could’ve auditioned for the role. SMH

    • Mhm

      True, but it’s about fan base, thats what sales movies these days brother.

      • Q.

        Whose fan base??

  • Psyer


  • Ummmm…. I cosign. Like there were no actresses of Nina’s skin tone to do the part. Coon sh*t. I won’t be seeing that sh*t. Next thing you know they’ll let Chris Brown play Shaka Zulu or some sh*t.

    • Soulrebel1

      Yo this actually looks like black face,, how does Robert Downey Jr looks more like a real black man in Tropic Thunder than she does…

  • Cavadias

    Zoe Saldana doesn’t even refer to herself as a black women but she wants to play an iconic Black Queen who spoke on social issues and injustices in our communities, next thing you know they gonna have Terrance Howard playing Harry Belafonte…enough with the damn Cooning!!!

  • Dark Matters

    Says Robert Johnson the former academy award winning actor.

  • Markus

    Saldana is beautiful but not smart for agreeing to alter her appearance in this fashion. Looking forward, I hope this doesn’t get recognized by the Academy. Sends the wrong message.

  • Andrew Mcallister

    Racism is definitely still alive. Oprah should’ve done this role.

  • edeck7

    India Arie should have been casted in the role, they favor plus she has the musical talent like a Nina Simone to pull it off. Casting british actors and actresses to portray our heroes in the U.S.A. I feel is wrong although Zoe Saldana is not british. Hollywood is bursting wide open with American Black born actors and actresses. I Love Sidney Poitier films and I have a lot of respect for his past work but that is the kind of game they played with us in the 1950’s and 1960’s getting someone that is really not America born to portray our struggle. I think the reason the powers that be do that is so they can get 1 nigga at a time to blowthem up, like a Cosby, Oprah, Michael Jordan, Eddie Murphy and you can control the art form and it’s talent. That is why I love the 1990’s because so many talented people was doing there thing, the different entertainment art forms was hard to control

  • Dan Tebasco

    Silly… Forest Whitaker pulled one of his best performances ever in blackface as Idi Amin in THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND and won an Oscar for it, Nicole Kidman had a prostetic nose in THE HOURS and won an Oscar for it… Ridicolous to slander a movie because of that alone, if she’s bad in it then fine but not because of that

  • Why not Angelina Jolie?
    Maybe Brad Pitt as Malcolm X?
    WTF is this? Another lifetime move?

    • meanygreene

      Paul Mooney: ima make a movie called “last n1gg@ on earth” starring tom hanks.

      • Jesus is Black….and so was Cleopatra!

      • Psyer

        Meryl Streep as Harriet Tubman

  • Papi Peligro

    First off ya’ll ain’t ready for Nina Simone period. If you think nikki minaj on American idol showed her a$$. Nina Simone was a real life a$$hole on stage sometimes.I think that’s where andy Kaufman got his stage act.

  • Papi Peligro

    And when I die don’t go get my twin to play me step it up a little.