Since there are a lot of beautiful, talented and hard-working actresses plying their trade these days, in order to be singled out with praise by the critics it takes both luck and determination, to make that transition from “additional cast” to “also starring” and finally “starring” in the billing. Amongst the relatively few who have those additional required traits is Zoe Saldana, actress, dancer and all around gorgeous Puerto Rican/Dominican, born in New Jersey but with strong ties to the Dominican Republic.
It is also unusual for a Hollywood personage to reach the age of almost 36 years without at least a little bit of negativity surfacing in the vast sea of media exposure and ‘objective criticism’ – but it appears that Zoe Saldana has managed to do it. Trying to find a denigrating review or even passing remark is hardly worth the effort, unless you count Zoe’s own comments on certain performances that she didn’t particularly enjoy.
For example, though her role as Anamaria in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl with Johnny Depp got her a lot of very positive attention, she later told interviewers that the experience was not one she’d want to repeat, remarking that it was, “Just not my taste.” She said it felt like a Hollywood movie, too big and too stagey. Zoe prefers the more challenging aspects of her craft, including strong female roles provided by directors like James Cameron, J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg.
Zoe has been working seriously on developing into a strong female character herself since the age of ten when the family moved from Passaic to the D. R., her father’s homeland. There she enrolled in the prestigious ECOS Espacio de Danza Academy to study various dance forms including ballet. After seven years the family returned to the U.S., where Zoe quickly got involved with both the New York Youth Theater and Faces, a troupe performing plays dealing with youth issues like sex and drug abuse.
Both acting and dancing abilities led to Zoe’s being chosen for a major role in Center Stage as Eva, a ballet dancer with outstanding talent but an off-putting attitude. Her next major role was in a teen drama called Crossroads, with Britney Spears, then a year later in Drumline opposite Nick Cannon. She appeared in several other films but it was not until 2009, when the reboot of Star Trek directed by J.J. Abrams brought her the role of Lt. Uhura, that Zoe really hit her stride, box office-wise anyway.
Four years later Star Trek: Into Darkness featured Zoe as Uhura again, and proved another resounding success for the still maturing actress. Zoe had even met with Nichelle Nichols, who played Nyota Uhura in the original Star Trek series, to discuss the character and her persona. Zoe said she wanted to portray Uhura as a strong ‘kick-ass’ woman and hopes to develop the character in further Star Trek episodes.
In the meantime she had another hit with James Cameron’s Avatar, also in 2009, playing the main female protagonist Neytiri. That role, says Zoe, was the most challenging so far; she had to learn a new language and her character was non-human, so it was “. . . physically, mentally and spiritually . .. .” a new experience, including an intensive six-month preparation for the role that included horseback riding, archery and martial arts.
According to IMDb, there are at least three more Avatar productions in the works, with Zoe slated as Neytiri in each of them. That ought to give her ample opportunity to grow into and with the unarguably powerful female lead that she prefers to play; it certainly looks as if Zoe Saldana has what it takes.
Guardians of the Galaxy Official Trailer (2014) 2K HD, Marvel