"That Zoe Saldana pic as Nina Simone looks like the blackface of a bad Halloween or frat party," one Twitter user wrote.
The first official poster for Zoë Saldana‘s upcoming film Nina has been released, leading to a chorus of criticism on social media.
Following the poster reveal on Tuesday, the casting of Saldana – who is of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent – as the legendary African American singer received widespread backlash on Twitter and Instagram.
“QUESTION: Why did they DARKEN Zoe Saldana rather than cast a darker actress since it was such a crucial part of Nina Simone’s story?” one tweeted while another said the casting was a form of blackface: “That Zoe Saldana pic as Nina Simone looks like the blackface of a bad Halloween or frat party.”
Saldana was also compared to actor Joseph Fiennes, who will be playing Michael Jackson in a British TV movie. “Zoe Saldana playing Nina is the CLOSEST to whitewashing without a white person. Equivalent to getting a white man to play Michael Jackson,” a fan tweeted.
However, PEOPLE has been informed that the studio did not doctor the image, and that it is just a still used from the movie.
Fans, critics and even Simone’s daughter Lisa Simone Kelly spoke against the casting choice in 2012 when Saldana, 37, was first attached to the title role.
“My mother was raised at a time when she was told her nose was too wide, her skin was too dark. Appearance-wise this is not the best choice.” Kelly said in an interview with The New York Times.
Photos from the Nina set showed Saldana’s transformation which included getting a prosthetic nose and skin-darkening makeup.
In February 2013, the Guardians of the Galaxy 2 responded to the overwhelming backlash telling HipHollywood.com, “The reality is what keeps me focused and what kept me from I guess getting stressed or being hurt by the comments is that I’m doing it for my sisters,” Saldana said.
Adding, “I’m doing it for my brothers. I don’t care who tells me that I am not this and I am not that. I know who I am and I know what Nina Simone means to me. So that is my truth and that set me free.”
Nina will be released in theaters and on VOD April 22.