May 26 2024

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Saldana: Space Opened Up Opportunities For Me

2 min read

Star Trek Beyond‘s Zoe Saldana was an actress who wanted to be more than just the sexy girlfriend.

“It was hard for me in my twenties to accept parts where I was The Girlfriend,” she said. “And then you open that page, usually page twenty, and it says, ‘In comes so-and-so: Hot. Sexy. Legs for days.’ And you’re like, ‘Aw, why not just let her open her mouth first, and then we’ll judge her based on what she’s saying?’ I remember feeling disheartened, and kind of going, ‘I can’t do this.'”

But her movie roles in space (Star Trek and Avatar movies, Guardians of the Galaxy) let her be just a little more than the girlfriend. “Space became this place that, yeah, I’m someone’s girlfriend, but I’m also the daughter of the king, or the queen of this tribe,” she said. “And we’re fighting to save this environment. That’s a multi-dimensional character, you know? So sometimes space provided a way to better roles for me. And I love action and science fiction…I was getting things out of my system. It’s what I was truly, truly enjoying.

“I like thinking that if we aim for being in a better place, for doing bigger things, that we will eventually get there.”

The original series’ Nichelle Nichols encouraged Saldana to make the Uhura character her own in the rebooted Star Trek movies. “She said, ‘‘Just go for it. Just do your thing. Make her modern. Make her strong. Be Uhura. Don’t be afraid of her,'” said Saldana. “She goes, ‘I’m not Uhura—that role is on the paper. Of course I added everything that I wanted it to be at that time, what I wanted women to be.’ And that was the most amazing validation, ever.”

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