Zoe Saldana

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Zoe Saldana
Zoe Saldana by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg
Saldana at the 2016 Comic-Con International
Zoe Yadira Saldaña Nazario

(1978-06-19) 19 June 1978 (age 40)
Other namesZoë Saldana, Zoe Saldaña, Zoe Saldana-Perego
OccupationActress, dancer
Marco Perego-Saldana (m. 2013)

Zoe Saldana-Perego (born Zoe Yadira Saldaña Nazario;[1] 19 June 1978[2]) is an American actress and dancer. Following her performances with the theater group Faces, Saldana made her screen debut in a 1999 episode of Law & Order.

Saldana's film career began a year later with Center Stage (2000), where she played a struggling ballet dancer. In 2002, Zoe Saldana played the love interest of Nick Cannon in Drumline, a successful movie highlighting the ever popular marching bands of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Saldana's breakthrough came in 2009 with her first of multiple appearances as Nyota Uhura in the Star Trek film series and her first appearance as Neytiri in the Avatar film series. She also portrays Gamora in multiple films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, beginning with Guardians of the Galaxy (2014).

Early life[edit]

Saldana was born in Passaic, New Jersey.[3][4] Her father, Aridio Saldaña,[5] was Dominican, while her mother, Asalia Nazario, is Puerto Rican.[6] She was christened Zoe Yadira Saldaña Nazario, reflecting both her parents’ surnames.[7] Saldana also has Lebanese and Haitian roots.[8][9] With regard to her racial identity, Saldana stated, "There's no one way to be black. I'm black the way I know how to be."[10] She spent the majority of her early childhood growing up in Jackson Heights, New York. She was raised bilingual, speaking English and Spanish. She has two sisters, Cisely and Mariel.[2] Their father died in a car crash when Zoe was 9 years old, and their mother subsequently moved with the children to the Dominican Republic.[2]

Saldana discovered her love of dance in the Dominican Republic and enrolled in the ECOS Espacio de Danza Academy; she studied various forms of dance,[3][2][11][12] but describes ballet as her first passion.[2][13] She told Vanity Fair that she quit ballet because she did not "have the feet" and had too much pride and ambition to just be in the corps de ballet.[13] The family returned to New York after her sophomore year in high school.[13] In 1995, she began performing with the Faces theater group in Brooklyn,[14] which put on plays geared toward providing positive messages for teens via themes dealing with issues such as substance abuse and adolescent sexuality. Concurrently, she performed with the New York Youth Theater; her appearance in their production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat led a talent agency to recruit her. Her previous dance training, and her acting experience, helped her land her first film role, playing talented and headstrong ballet student Eva Rodriguez in Center Stage (2000).[3][11]



Saldana at Hollywood Life Magazine's Annual Breakthrough Awards in 2007

Saldana was still a member of Faces when she gained exposure in an episode of Law & Order (titled "Refuge, Part 2") which first aired in 1999.[15] Saldana's first film role was in Center Stage (2000), directed by Nicholas Hytner, about a group of young dancers from various backgrounds who enroll at the fictitious American Ballet Academy in New York City. She then appeared in the Britney Spears vehicle Crossroads (2002). The film was met with negative reviews from critics, but became somewhat of a box office success.[16][17] The same year, Saldana starred in the comedy-drama Drumline (2002), alongside Nick Cannon, which was met with generally favorable reviews.[18][19]

In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), she played Anamaria, a female pirate who signs up to join Will Turner and Mr. Gibbs for a chance to confront Jack Sparrow for stealing her ship. As to why she never appeared in any further films in the franchise, Saldana revealed that she almost quit acting following "disrespectful treatment" on set of the film.[20] She then appeared in The Terminal as Dolores Torres, an immigration officer and Star Trek fan, a role that would later help Saldana when she came to appear in the Star Trek reboot (2009).[21] In 2004, she also made appearances in Haven and Temptation, both of which had little to no box office success.

In 2005, Saldana appeared in Constellation, Guess Who with Ashton Kutcher, and Dirty Deeds. She then starred in the romantic comedy-dramas Premium (2006) and After Sex (2007).[22] The same year, Saldana starred in Blackout, a television film set in New York City during the Northeast Blackout of 2003. The film premiered at the 2007 Zurich Film Festival[23] and debuted on BET in 2008.[24] Saldana also had a small role as Angie Jones in the action thriller Vantage Point (2008).[25]


Saldana at the "Entertainment Weekly: Wonder Women: Female Power Icons in Pop Culture" panel, Comic-Con 2009

Saldana appeared in two roles in 2009, which both went on to raise her profile considerably.[11] She played Nyota Uhura in Star Trek.[26] The film's director J. J. Abrams asked Saldana to play the role because he had seen and liked her previous work. Saldana had never seen the original series, though she had played a Trekkie in The Terminal (2004), but agreed to play the role after Abrams complimented her. She met with Nichelle Nichols, who explained to her how she had created Uhura's background and named the character.[27] Saldana's mother was a Star Trek fan and sent her voicemails during filming, giving advice on the role.[28] Steven Spielberg taught her the Vulcan salute five years earlier when he directed her in The Terminal.[21] Star Trek (2009) was a box office success grossing $385.7 million.[29]

Saldana's second high-profile film in 2009 was James Cameron's Avatar, in which she played the alien hunter Neytiri. Avatar was well-received by critics, accumulating an approval rating of 83% on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.[30] It grossed $2.7 billion worldwide to become the highest-grossing film of all time,[31] as well as in the United States and Canada. It also became the first film to gross more than $2 billion worldwide.[32] The film was nominated for ten Saturn Awards and won all ten at the 36th Saturn Awards ceremony. Saldana's Saturn Award for Best Actress win marked a rare occurrence for an all-CG character.[33]

Saldana at the 82nd Academy Awards (2010)

In 2010, Saldana performed in The Losers as Aisha al-Fadhil, a native Bolivian woman. For the role, she was required to gain weight, as she was expected to carry weapons around for eight hours a day.[34] In 2010, she also appeared in Takers, Death at a Funeral and Burning Palms. Her television ad for Calvin Klein's "Envy" line also debuted in 2010.[35] In 2011, Saldana starred in the romantic comedy The Heart Specialist and played Cataleya Restrepo, a professional assassin, in the crime drama Colombiana. While the latter film was met with negative reviews from critics, Saldana's performance was praised.[36]

In 2012, she appeared in the romantic drama The Words, which also received negative reviews from critics and saw little success at the box office.[37][38]

In 2013, Saldana reprised her role as Uhura in Star Trek Into Darkness, the sequel to the Star Trek reboot. Like the previous film, it was a box office success ending its North American theatrical run with a box office total of $228,778,661, placing it as the 11th highest-grossing film for 2013.[39] It also earned $467,365,246 worldwide, ranking it in 14th place for 2013 and making it the highest-grossing film of the franchise.[40] Saldana also voiced her character in the 2013 release of the Star Trek video game.

In 2014, Saldana played Gamora in the hit film Guardians of the Galaxy.[41][42] Saldana said that she became Gamora through make-up rather than computer generated imagery (CGI) or performance capture.[43] The film became the third highest-grossing film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, behind The Avengers and Iron Man 3.[44] It was the third highest-grossing 2014 film (behind Transformers: Age of Extinction and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, and the highest-grossing superhero film of 2014.[44][45]

The film was met with positive reviews and Saldana was nominated for numerous awards including Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Actress in an Action Movie, Favorite Action Movie Actress at the People's Choice Awards and Best On-Screen Transformation at the MTV Movie Awards.[46][47]

In May 2014, she performed in Rosemary's Baby, a television miniseries adaptation of Ira Levin's horror novel. Saldana also co-produced the four-hour, two-part show.[48] In 2014, Saldana was recognized by Elle magazine during The Women in Hollywood Awards, honoring women for their outstanding achievements in film, spanning all aspects of the motion picture industry, including acting, directing, and producing.[49]


Saldana starred in Nina, an unauthorized biopic about the jazz musician Nina Simone, which was released in 2016. The film depicts the late singer's rise to fame and relationship with her manager Clifton Henderson. Simone's family has been critical of the decision to cast her in the role.[50] Also in 2016, she co-starred in the science-fiction sequel Star Trek Beyond, which was released in July, and Ben Affleck's crime drama Live by Night, which was released in December.[51]

Saldana returned as Gamora in the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), which was released in May.[52] She again reprised the role in the sequel Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and in Avengers: Endgame, which is scheduled to be released in 2019.

Also in 2017, Saldana played Mrs. Mollé in I Kill Giants, Anders Walter's adaptation of Joe Kelly's graphic novel I Kill Giants. Shooting commenced in Ireland in September 2016.[53] Also that year, she appeared in My Little Pony: The Movie, where she performed the voice of pirate parrot Captain Celaeno.

On May 3, 2018, she received a star in the Hollywood walk of fame.

She will reprising role Neytri in Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 which will release in 2020 and 2021[54]

Personal life[edit]

Saldana at the 2014 Alma Awards, while she was pregnant with twins

In June 2010, Saldana became engaged to her longtime boyfriend Keith Britton, an actor and the CEO of My Fashion Database.[55] Saldana and Britton announced in November 2011 that they had ended their relationship after 11 years together.[56]

In March 2013, Saldana began dating Italian artist Marco Perego. They secretly married in June 2013 in London.[57][58] In July 2015, Saldana revealed that, in a reversal of tradition, Perego adopted her surname upon marriage.[59][60] Thereafter, Zoe became Zoe Saldana-Perego and Marco became Marco Perego-Saldana. Their children would be Perego-Saldana.[61] Saldana and Perego have three sons together, twins born in November 2014[62] and the third born in February 2017.[63][64] Saldana stated that her children will be bilingual as she and her husband plan to speak both Spanish and English around them.[65]

In July 2016, during an interview with Net-a-Porter's The Edit, Saldana revealed that she has Hashimoto's thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease, along with her mother and sisters. To combat the effects of this disease, Saldana said she and her husband adhere to a gluten- and dairy-free diet.[66]

In 2009, Saldana said she would avoid plastic surgery, telling Women's Health magazine "God as my witness, I am going to try to do everything I can to keep this ass together for as long as I possibly can—without going against nature."[21] She watches what she eats but does not diet and does Pilates regularly saying "It's the closest thing to dance."[21]

Saldana is a supporter of FINCA International, a microfinance organization.[67]



Year Title Role Notes
1999 Law & Order Belinca 2 episodes
2004 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Gabrielle Vega Episode: "Criminal"
2006–2007 Six Degrees Regina 5 episodes
2013 Comedy Bang! Bang! Herself Episode: "Zoe Saldana Wears A Tan Blouse & Glasses"
2014 Rosemary's Baby Rosemary Woodhouse Miniseries; also producer
2016 Lip Sync Battle Herself Episode: "Zoe Saldana vs. Zachary Quinto"


Year Title Role Notes
2000 Center Stage Eva Rodriguez
2001 Get Over It Maggie
Snipes Cheryl
2002 Crossroads Kit
Drumline Laila
2003 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Anamaria
2004 The Terminal Dolores Torres
Haven Andrea
Temptation Annie
2005 Constellation Rosa Boxer
Guess Who Theresa Jones
Dirty Deeds Rachel Buff
The Curse of Father Cardona Flor
2006 Premium Charli
The Heart Specialist Donna
2007 After Sex Kat
Blackout Claudine
2008 Vantage Point Angie Jones
2009 Star Trek Nyota Uhura
The Skeptic Cassie
Avatar Neytiri
2010 The Losers Aisha
Takers Lily Jansen
Death at a Funeral Elaine
Burning Palms Sara Cotton
2011 Kaylien Short film; director
Colombiana Cataleya Restrepo
2012 The Words Dora Jansen
2013 Blood Ties Vanessa
Star Trek Into Darkness Nyota Uhura
Out of the Furnace Lena Warren
2014 Unity Narrator Documentary
Infinitely Polar Bear Maggie Stuart
Guardians of the Galaxy Gamora
The Book of Life Maria Posada Voice role
2016 Nina Nina Simone
Star Trek Beyond Nyota Uhura
Live by Night Graciella Corrales
2017 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Gamora
I Kill Giants Mrs. Mollé
My Little Pony: The Movie[68] Captain Celaeno Voice role
2018 Avengers: Infinity War Gamora
2019 Missing Link Adelina Fortnight Voice role
Avengers: Endgame[69] Gamora
2020 Avatar 2 Neytiri Filming
2021 Avatar 3 Filming
Saldana with her 2012 Alma Award

Video games[edit]

Year Title Voice role Notes
2013 Star Trek Nyota Uhura

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Work Result
2003 MTV Movie Awards Best Kiss (with Nick Cannon) Drumline Nominated
2005 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie: Female Breakout Star Guess Who Nominated
2006 Black Reel Awards Best Actress Nominated
2009 ALMA Awards Actress in Film Star Trek Nominated
Boston Society of Film Critics Best Ensemble Cast Won
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actress: Action Nominated
Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Best Ensemble Nominated
People's Choice Awards Favorite Breakout Movie Actress Nominated
Scream Awards Best Science Fiction Actress Nominated
Breakout Performance – Female Nominated
Best Ensemble Nominated
BET Awards Best Actress Nominated
Black Reel Awards Best Actress Nominated
Broadcast Film Critics Association Best Acting Ensemble Nominated
Empire Awards Best Actress Avatar Won
Kids' Choice Awards Cutest Couple (with Sam Worthington) Nominated
Favorite Movie Actress Nominated
MTV Movie Awards Best Female Performance Nominated
Best Kiss (with Sam Worthington) Nominated
Scream Awards Best Science Fiction Actress Nominated
Saturn Awards Best Actress Won
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actress: Sci-Fi Won
Choice Movie Actress: Action The Losers Nominated
Choice Movie Actress: Comedy Death at a Funeral Nominated
2011 ALMA Awards Favorite Movie Actress – Drama/Adventure Takers Nominated
BET Awards Best Actress The Losers Nominated
Death at a Funeral Nominated
Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture The Losers Nominated
2012 BET Awards Best Actress Colombiana Nominated
Black Reel Awards Best Actress[70] Nominated
Hollywood walk of fame Zoe Saldana Won
Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actress: Action Won
ALMA Awards Favorite Movie Actress Drama/Adventure Won
2013 Teen Choice Awards Choice Summer Movie Star: Female Star Trek Into Darkness Nominated
2015 Black Reel Awards Outstanding Actress, TV Movie or Mini-Series Rosemary's Baby Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress Guardians of the Galaxy Nominated
Outstanding Voice Performance The Book of Life Nominated
People's Choice Awards Favorite Action Movie Actress Guardians of the Galaxy Nominated
2016 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actress: AnTEENcipated Star Trek Beyond Nominated
2017 People's Choice Awards Favorite Action Movie Actress Nominated
Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Butt-Kicker[71] Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actress: Sci-Fi Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Won
Choice Movie: Ship (with Chris Pratt) Nominated
2018 Choice Movie Actress: Action Avengers: Infinity War Nominated
Choice Liplock (with Chris Pratt) Nominated
Hollywood walk of fame Zoe Saldana Won


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External links[edit]