In an entertainment world dominated by light-skinned Latinas, actress Zoe Saldana makes her mark in Hollywood playing diverse roles and showing off her fabulous sense of style. Saldana is Dominican and Puerto Rican and considers herself “una mujer negra”.
The 34-year-old Queens native has been busy promoting her new movie Star Trek Into Darkness where she reprises the role of a sexy African-American space captain in the J.J. Abrams Star Trek adaption.
We just can’t get enough of Zoe. She graces the covers both Latina and InStyle Hair’s May issues. The Avatar and Terminal star recently suffered a wardrobe malfunction at the London premiere of Star Trek Into Darkness. Her dress had a mullet hemline that simply wouldn’t stay put on the red carpet, as gusts of wind had their way with it. Thank goodness her co-stars were there to help her with her Vionnet gown. Who wouldn’t want Chris Pine to help a damsel in distress?
Saldana leans more towards her Dominican side. At ten years old, she and her family moved to the Dominican Republic after her dad passed away. She lived there for seven years and discovered a deep interest in performance dance and so began training at the prestigious ECOS Espacio de Danza Dance Academy.
She continued with ballet school, which was perfect for her film debut in the 2000 ballet drama Center Stage. She took on a few supporting roles in films like Crossroads opposite Britney Spears and Drumline, then landed the kick-ass role in Colombiana.
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Fame and box-office stardom hasn’t come easy for Saldana. She is constantly being criticized for her Hollywood roles. Whether it is playing the ‘Colombian’ or for her upcoming role as the legendary singer Nina Simone in the forthcoming biopic, Nina.
How does she cope with all the media scrutiny as a celebrity? “My mom raised my sisters and I with a strong sense of self. [My mother] always said, ‘Honey, there is nothing that a red lipstick and a pair of red shoes can’t heal, cure, or solve.’ And I absolutely believe that. They can get you out of anything, even the biggest funk of your life,” Saldana told InStyle Hair.
Though she often plays an African American character in her movies, her role as Nina has really caused backlash. Critics claimed she is too light-skinned for the part, another example of Hollywood “whitewashing.” Even Nina’s daughter wrote a letter voicing her discontent with the Nina Simone project.
So, what’s the big deal, when Saldana considers herself black and made a statement about it to Latina magazine back in 2006, “When I go to the D.R., the press in Santo Domingo always asks, “¿Qué te consideras, dominicana o americana?” (What do you consider yourself, Dominican or American?) I don’t understand it, and it’s the same people asking the same question. So I say, time and time again, “Yo soy una mujer negra.” (I am a black woman.) Remember all the heat Jennifer Lopez got for her portrayal of Selena in 1997? Of course, not! So, thankfully, people will eventually forget.
What’s amazing about Zoe Saldana is that she embodies many qualities of a U.S. Latina with a Latin American sensibility. She embraces her culture and heritage and doesn’t have to ‘wear it on her sleeve’ to prove that she is Latina. Her incredible talent as an actress will continue to land her leading roles, regardless of what ethnicity she plays.
Rumor has it that Saldana may star in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy movie, according to Latino Review, making her the first Dominicana to do so. For all you Trekkies, she will boldly go where no other Latina has gone before.