On Nina Simone’s Birthday, Dr. Yaba Blay Comments on Colorism in Hollywood Casting

Today would have been the great Nina Simone’s 80th birthday. 

A few months ago on WFPL’s Strange Fruit podcast, we interviewed professor, activist, and friend to the show Dr. Yaba Blay. During the conversation we talked about the controversy surrounding the upcoming Nina Simone biopic. Dr. Blay looks at colorism and black identity in her work (especially her (1)ne Drop project) and spoke on CNN’s special, Who Is Black in America? She spoke with us about why it’s upsetting for an actress who looks like Zoe Saldana to put on darker makeup and a prosthetic nose and play Nina Simone—a musical icon known as much for her politics and embracing her Blackness as for her beautiful music.

 
This portion of the conversation didn’t make it into the episode, but we’re sharing it with you today, in honor of Simone’s birthday.

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