Zoe Saldana
Zoe Saldana will take the lead role in the Nina Simone biopic, set for release on 22 April Kevork Djansezian/Getty Image

Zoe Saldana has faced a backlash again over her starring role in the forthcoming Nina Simone biopic. After the first official poster for the Cynthia Mort-directed film was finally unveiled, critics seized the opportunity to once again take aim at Saldana for bearing what they believe is an unlikeness to the legendary soul singer.

The poster for Nina features Saldana, 37, sitting behind a piano with the microphone in front of her alongside the words "Singer. Activist. Survivor. Legend". However, many have accused the studio of heavily enhancing the image to make Saldana, who is of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, bear more of a resemblance to Simone. Suggesting the photo has been darkened, one critic commented on Twitter: "The Nina Simone biopic irritates me that they couldn't use a dark-skin actress but instead chose to darken Zoe Saldana skin tone."

Another said: "It's the fact that they have to darken her skin and broaden her nose, when those are the reasons that Nina Simone was held back musically." One critic also made a link to Joseph Fiennes being cast as Michael Jackson in an upcoming film, chiming in: "Zoe Saldana playing Nina is the CLOSEST to whitewashing without a white person. Equivalent to getting a white man to play Michael Jackson."

Refuting the Photoshopping claims, a source close to the film studio producing Nina stated that the image was simply a still taken from the movie. Avatar actress Saldana received a spate of criticism when she was first announced for the role after it was revealed she wore a prosthetic nose to resemble the late singer. Reacting to the controversy, Saldana told The Huffington Post in 2015: "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.

"An artist is colourless, genderless... It's more complex than just 'Oh, you chose the Halle Berry look-alike to play a dark, strikingly beautiful, iconic black woman'. The truth is, they chose an artist who was willing to sacrifice herself. We needed to tell her story because she deserves it."

Nina is set for release on 22 April.