Zoe Saldana's Nina Simone Biopic Poster Criticized for 'Using Blackface'

Zoe Saldana
Zoe Saldana onstage during the 22nd Annual Elle Women in Hollywood Awards, Beverly Hills, California, October 19, 2015. The actress's controversial Nina Simone biopic will be released in April. Michael Kovac/Getty Images

A biopic about singer Nina Simone starring Zoe Saldana will finally be released in April, two years after it was first screened at the Cannes Film Festival.

But an official poster shared on Tuesday has opened up fresh criticism, including accusations of "blackface."

The poster for Nina , published by Entertainment Weekly on Tuesday, received a lukewarm reception on Twitter as critics claimed Saldana's skin color had been manipulated to look darker.

This marks the latest bump in the road for the project, dating back to Saldana's initial casting as the iconic African-American singer in 2012.

Film director Matthew A. Cherry wrote:

Was it ok to darken Zoe Saldana's skin so that she could play Nina Simone in a biopic or should they have just casted a darker actress?

— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) March 1, 2016

More tweets included:

Casting Zoe Saldana and darkening her skin reinforces the idea that there can only be a few black actors taking central stage at a time.

— wikipedia brown told Santa the truth about you (@eveewing) March 1, 2016

That Zoe Saldana pic as Nina Simone looks like the blackface of a bad Halloween or frat party 😏

— ProfB (@AntheaButler) March 1, 2016

This pics of Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone...listen, you'll never convince me a dark skinned Black woman couldn't have played that role better.

— ❄Mikki Kendall❄ (@Karnythia) March 1, 2016

Saldana, who is fairer than Simone, faced pushback when she landed the role, with many questioning why the part didn't go to an actress whose skin color is closer to the late songstress. On-set pictures, appearing to show the Guardians of the Galaxy star with darker skin tone than usual and a prosthetic nose, did little to alleviate the furore.

Simone's daughter Lisa Simone Kelly was among the critics, saying: "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 went on to endorse Oscar-nominated star Viola Davis to play her mother and acknowledged that the late singer would have picked Whoopi Goldberg.

For her part, Saldana, 37, admitted in 2015 that she may not have been right for the role. "I didn't think I was right for the part, and I know a lot of people will agree, but then again, I don't think Elizabeth Taylor was right for Cleopatra either," she told InStyle magazine.