Zoe Saldana Biography
On June 19, 1978, in Passaic, New Jersey, USA Zoe Yadira Saldaña Nazario was born to Dominican and Puerto Rican parents, with her father, Aridio Saldaña coming from the former and her mother Asalia Nazario coming from the latter. Further back in her ancestry, she also has Haitian and Lebanese roots and she has often stated that she is proud to have such a diverse background. She speaks both Spanish and English and spent a lot of her early years growing up in Jackson Heights, which is in Queens, New York City. Zoe is one of three sisters, the other two being Cisely and Mariel and she also has a half-brother called Nipo, a producer and artist.
Zoe Saldana’s was struck by tragedy early in her life, when, at the age of 8, she suffered the loss of her father, who was killed in a car crash. Following this, she and her mother moved to the Dominican Republic where she discovered a passion for dance. She joined ECOS Espacio de Danza Academy and found that her forte was ballet, although she studied all sorts of other forms of dance as well. Although ballet was what she wanted to do, she found that she didn’t have the feet to become a great ballet dancer and so quit rather than be just another dancer.
When the family moved back to New York following Zoe’s sophomore year in high school she started performing with the FACES theatre group. The group puts on plays especially aimed at young people in order to provide positive messages and themes for those who might be struggling with substance abuse or coming to terms with their sexuality. At the same time as performing with FACES in Brooklyn, New York, Zoe also worked with the New York Youth Theatre and it was in a performance in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat that she found herself being spotted by a talent agency. Because of her dance training and her experiences on the stage, it didn’t take long for her to get her first film role in which she played Eva Rodriguez, a ballet student, in the movie called Center Stage which was released in 2000. She also got some exposure to TV work just before Center Stage was released when she landed a part in a 1999 episode of Law & Order.
After Center Stage was released, Saldana decided to quit school and in 2002 she appeared in the movie Crossroads, which also starred Britney Spears. The reviews weren’t great though although it was relatively successful at the box office. Also in 2002, Zoe appeared in the movie Drumline, alongside Nick Cannon, which was a comedy drama that met with relatively positive reviews.
Zoe Saldana’s first taste of working on a Hollywood blockbuster though came in 2003 when she played Anamaria in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. However, her treatment on the movie was apparently less than respectful and it almost led to her quitting acting altogether, let alone reprising her role in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. However, she decided against quitting after she appeared in The Terminal as an immigration officer who was also a Star Trek fan. A theme that would be repeated a few years later.
From 2003 and for the next few years, Saldana continued to work in both TV and movies but never really landed her breakthrough role. However, when 2009 came around things started to change. The first thing to happen was the repeat of the Star Trek theme, but this time in one of the starring roles in J. J. Abrams re-imagining of the Star Trek movies. Abrams asked Saldana to play the part of Nyota Uhura as he had seen some of her previous work and said he liked it. After agreeing to take the part, especially after Abrams complimented her on her work, Zoe decided to meet with Nichelle Nichols who played Uhura in the original Star Trek TV show and in the movies. Nichols gave her background information about how she had named the character. Zoe’s mother also sent her plenty of advice regarding the role as she was a Star Trek fan. She already knew how to do the Vulcan salute because Steven Spielberg had taught her how to do it during filming on The Terminal. The movie was a huge hit and went on to make over $385 million at the box office.
In the same year, Zoe Saldana landed another pivotal role, that of Neytiri, the alien huntress in James Cameron’s movie Avatar. The movie ranked number one at the box office and went on to make a staggering $2.7 billion worldwide. The movie was nominated for 10 Saturn Awards and won them all, with Saldana taking the prize for Best Actress.
Several more movies followed over the next couple of years including Columbiana in which Saldana played an assassin. Although the movie received fairly negative reviews, her performance received praise.
Star Trek would come around again in 2013 and Zoe reprised her role of Uhura in Star Trek: Into Darkness. Although not as well liked by the critics as the first movie, it still went on to make over $460 million at the box office worldwide and Zoe also voiced the character for the video game tie-in in the same year.
2014 would see Saldana work with another huge movie studio when she got the part of Gamora in that year’s Marvel movie, Guardians of the Galaxy. Only The Avengers and Iron Man 3 would take more at the box office. 2014 would also see Zoe Saldana take on the role of the producer when she co-produced a two-part, four-hour TV miniseries in which she also starred based on the best-selling Ira Levin horror story, Rosemary’s Baby.
More huge hits are expected for Zoe Saldana in the next few years as she will star in Nina, the biopic of jazz singer Nina Simone and she will also play Neytiri again in the sequel to Avatar which is set for a 2017 release, a year that will also see her also reprise the Gamora role when the sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy is set to be released. It seems she may well hit the hat-trick for sequels too as there may be a sequel to Columbiana although it has not yet been confirmed that she will play a part.
As far as her personal life is concerned, Zoe Saldana is married with two children, twin sons Bowie Ezio and Cy Aridio who she has with her husband Marco Parego.
Saldana has stated that she will work hard to maintain her natural body and looks and that she will use healthy eating and Pilates to do so.