Dear Zoe Saldana
from my writerly tumblr, madwomenandmuses:
Dear Zoe Saldana,
I think you’re wonderful on the silver screen and the red carpet. You’re lithe, graceful and with the sort of devil-may-care moxie that makes me think you’d be fun to get a drink with. Plus, you’re a fellow black latina with a Dominican background. You’re not a transcendant actress but you’re capable and fun to watch. The Losers is one of my favorite films to watch while drunk. All this is to say, I like you.
Unfortunately, every time you open your mouth I stop liking you. Essentially, the words you’re using don’t mean what you think they mean. All this crystallized when I read your interview in this month’s Allure magazine. There you were with teased big, curly hair at times wearing nothing more than a gold bracelet and the kind of makeup men confuse with being “natural” while spouting some of the most offensive, ignorant things I have heard since Megan Fox’s early career or whatever the fuck Chris Brown said most recently on Twitter. There’s a lot I want to cover, doll, so stick with me.
Let’s start with the part of the interview that made me think you’ve never touched a dictionary in your life.
“Saldana is the first to say [that she’s] “androgynous” The very opposite of what she calls a “girly girl.” But Saldana adds musingly, one day she might “end up with a woman raising my children…that’s how androgynous I am!”
an·drog·y·nous (adjective)1) having the characteristics or nature of both male and female2)a: neither specifically feminine nor masculine <the androgynous pronoun them>b: suitable to or for either sex <androgynous clothing>3)having traditional male and female roles obscured or reversed <an androgynous marriage>Zoe, you’re not androgynous. You also don’t come across as much of a tomboy (which is what I think you are trying to say) especially in light of how your star image is greatly informed by your feminine, glamorous red carpet fashions.Throughout this interview you are a hellbent on trying to come across as the edgy, exotic hotgirl who can hang with the guys but often bristles against women who you purport you’ve had a hard time getting along with and have been hurt by. I kept wondering throughout your interview what sort of star image you’re trying to project. The exotic, sexually fluid woman who can hang with the guys? The actress above the bullshit of Hollywood? The glamorous clotheshorse who is the talk of every red carpet? Th action girl? Your star image is fractured, darling and in the world of Hollywood that isn’t a good thing.When in a short blurb you mention how similar you are to Angelina Jolie since you are both “androgynous”, it finally clicked as to the sort of star image you are trying to create.Trying to be an exotic version of early Angelina Jolie will not work for you. Jolie’s edginess, transgressiveness is not a front. It always came across as an extension of her natural self. Even as she has mellowed out (at least to the public-at-large) there’s still traces of that darkness. Furthermore, you lack the screen presence and handling of the media that Jolie has in spades.Also, the whole I may be into women but I won’t commit to an answer spiel is bullshit. It comes across as a disingenuous ploy to appeal to men and form a sort of edginess you seem to grasping for. That’s the sort of tone-deaf bullshit comment I expect from early Megan Fox.Look Zoe, I get what you’re trying to go for and if faux-bisexuality and an incorrect usage of the word “androgynous” were the worst things about the interview I would not be writing this letter right now. What perturbed me was your discussion about race and the backlash aimed at your casting as the legendary Nina Simone. A role that has you problematically wearing a prosthetic nose and dark makeup. Your ignornance about race relations astounds me maybe because I always erronously hope fellow people of color with our backgrounds wouldn’t revel in such harmful ignorance.“In fact the actress is less concerned about her skin shade than being what she calls “a woman in a man’s world.” “That’s why I don’t want to waste my time with race. It’s hard enough to be a woman on this Earth. So to be an American or black or latina, it’s abitrary compared to our battles as women.”I imagine the same so-called feminists who vehemently defend Lena Dunham and lowkey oppose intersectionality hearts are all a-flutter with this quote. Zoe, how is it so easy for you to say that race doesn’t matter in the face of gender discrimination and issues? Honestly, the injustices I’ve faced from both have been inextricably linked.You may not want to waste your time with race but the world you live in including casting directors and Hollywood execs will judge you for it, at times harshly.Plus, if race is so arbitrary how can you portray Nina Simone , whose blackness was central to her being? How can you even say that you will “honor and respect” your black community if the very thing that binds this community you wish to ignore and downplay?Zoe, after you look up the word androgynous in the dictionary I suggest you look up the word hypocritical.You also say “when it comes to the whole deal with race, I grew up in a very colorblind family.”Zoe, colorblindness is a myth…unless you’re talking about dogs or that one dude you knew in highschool who couldn’t tell the difference between green and red. But ultimately in terms of race it is a myth. We all register and make note of people’s race and ethinicity or our personal perception of it. That isn’t inherently a bad thing until people attribute negative connotations and prejudices to someone’s race.As one of the few high profile black actresses in Hollywood I will admit you’ve received undue pressure and expectations on how you should portray both your black latina-ness and womanhood. You won’t make everyone happy, no celebrity can. But your desire to act like race doesn’t matter—- in light of the dearth of representation of people of color behind and in front of the camera and your reaction to the backlash you have received by playing Nina Simone—-is appalling and frankly untrue. Have you ever wondered why you’re one of the only black women with such a high profile that hasn’t done a Tyler Perry film? Your comments prove that you should not be playing Nina Simone a woman who had to face horrible prejudices not only because of being black but being a dark skinned black woman with a beauty that contradicts the Eurocentric standards that women are often told to strive for.If race was so arbitrary the world would be a very different place and you wouldn’t be such a token figure in the sea of lily white red carpets and major magazine spreads. It may not matter to you but to the gatekeeper’s of Hollywood race matters in terms of whose stories are told and marketed to the public.Sincerely,Angelica Jade
Two Brown Girls - Episode 11
In this episode of Two Brown Girls, we discuss the beauty of Suraj Sharma and our ~celebrity fantasies~, Law & Order: SVU’s ratchet Chris Brown/Rihanna episode, Anne Hathaway and ‘In Defense of the Happy Girl’ (has the media trained us to hate girlishness?), Zoe Saldana’s comments on her Nina Simone biopic criticism, and our unbridled hatred for James Franco, amongst other things. Happy Sunday!
Zoe Saldana in response to the Nina Simone biopic backlash
What do you think?
She wants revenge
Female revenge in cinema. YASS.
First pictures of Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone surface and…yeah, no.