A Nina Simone Fan's Take On Why Zoe Saldana Is The Wrong Pick

A Nina Simone Fan's Take On Why Zoe Saldana Is The Wrong Pick

When will Hollywood learn?

During the 1960s, black entertainers had a difficult choice to make regarding their careers: continue to play to white audiences, dulling their blackness and, in effect, racially neutering themselves, or proudly embody black pride. While some, such as Diana Ross, continued to shy away from racial politics, others such as Harry Belafonte and Aretha Franklin vividly embraced their racial heritage.

And then there was Nina Simone.

Simone, born Eunice Waymon, was a classically trained pianist and singer/songwriter. She was also a shockingly political performer, a living, breathing symbol of unabashed black pride. In 1964, while The Supremes were asking where their love went and Dionne Warwick told her ex to "Walk On By", Simone was roaring about the racism that dominated southern society with her rousing "Mississippi Goddam". She was a diverse performer who deftly moved from show tunes to political anthems, blues and jazz to gospel and soul. Sadly, she never received the recognition to which her talent entitled her, and her later life was marred by her crippling bipolar disorder and her exile to Barbados, then Liberia, then finally Europe. Though she never reached the same heights as her contemporaries, her influence is palpable in today's rising black artists. Her contralto voice, intimidating or soothing depending on the mood of the song, transcends, but make no mistake, her music is above all else, artistic activism; she is proud to be black, and every nuanced note expresses that.

A biopic of her life, which has been mired in development hell for several years, has finally begun to make newsworthy headway, and the choice of Zoe Saldana to portray Simone has caused a considerable backlash. Saldana, a mixed-race woman who identifies as black, donned skin-darkening paint and a prosthetic nose to become Simone, which has rightfully irritated many. Simone's understated fame can be directly traced to both her activism and, more strikingly, her dark skin. Her limited exposure was in direct contrast to the national notoriety that performers such as Dorothy Dandridge, Diahann Carroll, and Barbara McNair enjoyed.

Academy Award-nominee Dorothy Dandridge

Diahann Carroll, whose 1968 sitcom "Julia" was "groundbreaking".

Barbara McNair, the first black woman to host her own variety show.

Put simply, the only way for a black woman to garner fame and fortune in the mid-20th century was to either be light-skinned and beautiful, with blackness as a secondary or even tertiary characteristic, or for darker-skinned women, such as Academy Award-winner Hattie McDaniel, to accept demeaning, servile roles, primarily maids and mammies. Simone's skin color, mixed in equal parts with her black pride, sealed her fate; to languish in relative obscurity while her lighter, brighter, whiter counterparts soared. And by casting Saldana, producers are engaging in this same outdated and offensive style of pandering to the public. By forcing a light-skinned black woman to sport blackface is an incomparable disgrace to Simone, her legacy, her craft, and the scores of women like her who were born too dark to succeed in America's politicized cultural climate. What many in Hollywood fail to realize is that casting a black actor is not enough. The black diaspora must be represented in its entirety across the spectrum of film and television, and to callously pave over Simone's legacy is to contribute to the same tactics that forced her to flee the United States in 1970. She deserves better, the black community deserves better, the viewing public deserves better.

Save your money. Instead of paying the extortionate costs of a movie ticket, buy an old Nina Simone album. They, at least, offer a genuine taste of the indelible passion with which she sang and lived.

And at least we can all reassure ourselves that this film doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of winning any Oscars.

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30 Things I'd Rather Be Than 'Pretty'

Because "pretty" is so overrated.

Nowadays, we put so much emphasis on our looks. We focus so much on the outside that we forget to really focus on what matters. I was inspired by a list that I found online of "Things I Would Rather Be Called Instead Of Pretty," so I made my own version. Here is a list of things that I would rather be than "pretty."

1. Captivating

I want one glance at me to completely steal your breath away.

2. Magnetic

I want people to feel drawn to me. I want something to be different about me that people recognize at first glance.

3. Raw

I want to be real. Vulnerable. Completely, genuinely myself.

4. Intoxicating

..and I want you addicted.

5. Humble

I want to recognize my abilities, but not be boastful or proud.

6. Exemplary

I want to stand out.

7. Loyal

I want to pride myself on sticking out the storm.

8. Fascinating

I want you to be hanging on every word I say.

9. Empathetic

I want to be able to feel your pain, so that I can help you heal.

10. Vivacious

I want to be the life of the party.

11. Reckless

I want to be crazy. Thrilling. Unpredictable. I want to keep you guessing, keep your heart pounding, and your blood rushing.

12. Philanthropic

I want to give.

13. Philosophical

I want to ask the tough questions that get you thinking about the purpose of our beating hearts.

14. Loving

When my name is spoken, I want my tenderness to come to mind.

15. Quaintrelle

I want my passion to ooze out of me.

16. Belesprit

I want to be quick. Witty. Always on my toes.

17. Conscientious

I want to always be thinking of others.

18. Passionate

...and I want people to know what my passions are.

19. Alluring

I want to be a woman who draws people in.

20. Kind

Simply put, I want to be pleasant and kind.

21. Selcouth

Even if you've known me your whole life, I want strange, yet marvelous. Rare and wondrous.

22. Pierian

From the way I move to the way I speak, I want to be poetic.

23. Esoteric

Do not mistake this. I do not want to be misunderstood. But rather I'd like to keep my circle small and close. I don't want to be an average, everyday person.

24. Authentic

I don't want anyone to ever question whether I am being genuine or telling the truth.

25. Novaturient

..about my own life. I never want to settle for good enough. Instead I always want to seek to make a positive change.

26. Observant

I want to take all of life in.

27. Peart

I want to be honestly in good spirits at all times.

28. Romantic

Sure, I want to be a little old school in this sense.

29. Elysian

I want to give you the same feeling that you get in paradise.

30. Curious

And I never want to stop searching for answers.
Cover Image Credit: Favim

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10 Places From Movies And TV You Can Visit In Real Life

It's like stepping into Hollywood!


I am constantly so enamored by the world of Hollywood and by going to visit places I have seen on screen. It's always such an unreal feeling to see where my favorite pieces of entertainment were shot. Here are 10 places from some of our favorite movies to see and visit in the real world!

The High School from "10 Things I Hate About You"

If you have ever wanted to dance on the same stairs as Heath Ledger or just stand in the same courtyard as Julia Stiles then you're in luck! Along the water in Tacoma, Washington, Stadium High School is located which was used both inside and out as the high school from one of the greatest teen movies of all time. This school is massive and so beautiful it's almost Hogwarts level stunning.

Pacific Coast Academy from  "Zoey 101"

Growing up I always dreamed about going to Pacific Coast Academy and being best friends with Jamie Lynn Spears and one of those things can (kinda) become a reality! Located in Malibu is a beautiful campus called Pepperdine University and it is the school they used to shoot scenes of Zoey and the gang at PCA. It is a christian based college and is prestigious in it's own right so if unlike me you are smart enough you can live out my dreams.

Central City Police Department from "The Flash"

Have you ever wanted to show up to Detective Joe West's place of work? Well head to the Vancouver City Hall in Vancouver, Canada and you will recognize your surroundings as the Central City Police Department! If you are lucky enough to show up on a filming day, you might even seen the man himself — Barry Allen.

Forks High School from The Twilight Saga

Personally, I am more invested in Bella and Jacob but for all my Team Edward ladies (and gentleman) you can visit the real-life school where Bella and Edward first met and their love blossomed into whatever obsessive weird thing it was. They also used the parking lot at this school to film the infamous scene where Edward saves Bella from getting crushed by a car. The school is called Kalama High School and is located in Kalama, Washington

Max And Dani's House from "Hocus Pocus"

Anyone with taste loves the movie Hocus Pocus — that's just facts! And I have some good news for fans of the film...you can visit the infamous Denison house! Located in none other than Salem, Massachusetts you will find this beautiful home where my favorite siblings once lived.

Silent Hill from "Silent Hill"

I will say before talking about this place that visiting it is EXTREMELY dangerous as just like in the movie the town as been burning from below for years and years. This small town is called Centralia and is located Pennsylvania and has a roaring population of about four people.

Hobbiton from "Lord Of The Rings"

I am personally not a fan of Lord of the Rings but I know a lot of people are so I wanted to include this super cool place on the list. If you ever find yourself in New Zealand you can visit Hobbinton from the movies and spend a day living like your favorite characters.

Platform 9 3/4 from the Harry Potter Series

Now this place will unfortunately be packed with muggles of course but you can find it at King's Cross Station in London! If you are anything like me and are obsessed with these magical movies this is a dream destination just don't run too hard at the wall if you're a muggle it will probably end in a concussion.

East High from the High School Musical Saga

Located in Salt Lake City Utah is the real life East High that was used in the filming of all three High School Musical movies. It is my absolute dream to attend this high school and walk the halls of the greatest high school of all time. They used both the outside and inside and the school so every inch of the school will remind you of these great teen movies.

Gus and Hazel's Bench from "The Fault in Our Stars" 

If you ever wanted to visit the site of this kiss between star crossed lovers you're in luck! Located along a canal in Amsterdam is a bench that is clearly marked by all the fault in our stars graffiti. Recreate this cute picture with your significant other and use a quote from the movie — then you'll just win in life.

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