PICTURE: See Zoe Saldana Dressed as Legendary Soul Singer Nina Simone

Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone on the set of "Nina" on October 19, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Cousart/JFXIMAGES.com

The folks behind the upcoming Nina Simone biopic, Nina, are moving forward with their leading lady pick, despite the controversy surrounding their choice.

On Friday, onlookers got a glimpse at the film’s star, Zoe Saldana, who debuted her big screen makeover during some downtime on set in Los Angeles.

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Though she had yet to change into costume, Saldana, 34, channeled the late singer with a little help from some facial prosthetics, fake teeth and an afro wig.

nina simone zoe saldana
Nina Simone and Zoe Saldana Retna/Photoshot/Everett Collection; Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Writer/director Cynthia Mort’s decision to cast Saldana as Simone has been a point of contention for pop culture critics ever since it was announced this summer. A number of bloggers have slammed the filmmaker’s pick, asserting that Saldana is too light-skinned for the part, and that the casting choice is another example of Hollywood’s tendency to whitewash African American history.

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“When is it going to be O.K. to not be the delicate looking ideal of what the media considers blackness to be?” blogger Tiffani Jones of Coffee Rhetoric wrote (via The New York Times), linking to a petition on Change.org, whose mission is to convince filmmakers to “replace Zoe Saldana with an actress who actually looks like Nina Simone.”

Tell Us: Do you think Zoe is the right actress to portray Nina?

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