Saldana at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con
Zoë Yadira Saldaña Nazario
June 19, 1978
Passaic, New Jersey, U.S.
Marco Perego Saldaña
Zoë Yadira Saldaña Nazario (born June 19, 1978) is an American actress. After her performances with the theater group Faces, she was in a 1999 episode of Law & Order. Her film career began a year later with Center Stage (2000) portraying a ballet dancer.
Saldana worked in science fiction films, beginning 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 portrayed Gamora in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, beginning with Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). Due to her appearances in some of the highest-grossing films of all time, such as Avatar, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame, Saldana is the second highest-grossing film actress of all time, as of 2019[update]. Her films grossed more than $11 billion worldwide.
Saldana was born June 19, 1978, in Passaic, New Jersey. Her father, Aridio Saldaña, was of Dominican and Haitian descent, while her mother, Asalia Nazario, is Puerto Rican with some Lebanese ancestry. 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." The majority of her early childhood was in Jackson Heights, New York. She was raised bilingual, speaking English and Spanish. She has two sisters, Cisely and Mariel. Their father died in a vehicle wreck around her ninth birthday, and their mother moved with the children to the Dominican Republic.
Saldana discovered her love of dance in the Dominican Republic, then enrolled in the ECOS Espacio de Danza Academy studying forms of dance, but describes ballet as her passion. She told Vanity Fair 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. The family returned to New York city after her sophomore year at Newtown High School. In 1995, she performed with the Faces theater group in Brooklyn, with plays providing positive messages for teens via themes dealing with issues such as substance abuse and adolescent sex. During these years, 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 dance training and her acting experience helped her land her first film role, playing ballet student Eva Rodriguez in Center Stage (2000).
Saldana was a member of Faces after her exposure in an episode of Law & Order (titled "Refuge, Part 2") in 1999. Saldana's first film role was in Center Stage (2000), directed by Nicholas Hytner, about dancers at the fictitious American Ballet Academy in New York city. She appeared in the Britney Spears vehicle Crossroads (2002). The film earned negative reviews from critics, but was a box-office success. Saldana starred in the comedy-drama Drumline (2002), alongside Nick Cannon, earning mixed reviews.
In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), she played Anamaria, a pirate joining Will Turner and Mr. Gibbs for a chance to confront Jack Sparrow for stealing her ship. She appeared in The Terminal as Dolores Torres, an immigration officer and Star Trek fan, a role helping Saldana during her portrayal in the Star Trek reboot (2009). In 2004, she had roles in Haven and Temptation; both earned little-to-no box-office success.
In 2005, Saldana appeared in Constellation, Guess Who with Ashton Kutcher, and Dirty Deeds. She starred in the romantic comedy-dramas Premium (2006) and After Sex (2007). 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 and debuted on BET in 2008. Saldana had a supporting role as Angie Jones in the action thriller Vantage Point (2008).
Breakthrough roles, Avatar and Guardians of the Galaxy
Saldana appeared in two roles in 2009, raising her profile considerably. She played Nyota Uhura in Star Trek. The film's director J. J. Abrams asked Saldana to play the role because he enjoyed her work. Saldana never saw the original series, although she portrayed a Trekkie in The Terminal (2004), but agreed to play the role after Abrams complimented her. She met with Nichelle Nichols to understand the creation of Uhura's background and name of the character. Saldana's mother was a Star Trek fan, leaving voice-mails during filming, advising on the role. Steven Spielberg taught her the Vulcan salute five years earlier while he directed her in The Terminal. Star Trek (2009) was a box-office success earning $385.7 million.
Saldana's second high-profile film in 2009 was James Cameron's Avatar portraying the indigenous hunter Neytiri. Avatar was well-received by critics, accumulating an approval rating of 83% on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. It grossed $2.7 billion worldwide to become the highest-grossing film of all time, as well as in the United States and Canada. It also became the first film to gross more than $2 billion worldwide. 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.
In 2010, Saldana performed in The Losers as Aisha al-Fadhil, a native Bolivian woman. For the role, she was required to gain weight to carry weapons for eight hours a day. In 2010, she appeared in Takers, Death at a Funeral, and Burning Palms. Her television ad for Calvin Klein's "Envy" line debuted in 2010. In 2011, Saldana starred in the romantic comedy The Heart Specialist, and portrayed assassin Cataleya Restrepo in the crime drama Colombiana. Although the latter film earned negative reviews from critics, Saldana's performance was praised.
In 2013, Saldana reprised her role as Uhura in Star Trek Into Darkness, the sequel to the Star Trek re-boot. Like the previous film, it was a box-office success, ending its North American theatre run with a box office total of $228,778,661, placing it as the 11th highest-grossing film for 2013. It earned $467,365,246 worldwide, ranking it in 14th place for 2013, and making it the highest-grossing film of the franchise. Saldana voiced her character in the 2013 release of the Star Trek video game.
In 2014, Saldana played Gamora in the hit Guardians of the Galaxy. Saldana portrayed the Gamora character with make-up rather than computer generated imagery (CGI) or performance capture. The film became the third highest-grossing film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, behind The Avengers and Iron Man 3. 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.
The film earned positive reviews. 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.
In May 2014, she performed in Rosemary's Baby, a television adaptation of Ira Levin's horror novel. Saldana also co-produced the four-hour two-part show. In 2014, Saldana was recognized by Elle magazine during The Women in Hollywood Awards, honoring women for achievements in film, spanning all aspects of the motion-picture industry, including acting, directing, and producing.
Saldana starred in Nina, an unauthorized biography about the jazz musician Nina Simone released in 2016. The film depicts the late singer's rise to fame and relationship with her manager Clifton Henderson. Simone's family were critical of the decision to cast her in the role. In August 2020, Saldana apologized for taking on the role, saying “I’m so sorry. I know better today and I’m never going to do that again. She’s one of our giants and someone else should step up. Somebody else should tell her story.”  In 2016, she co-starred in the science-fiction sequel Star Trek Beyond released in July, and Ben Affleck's crime drama Live by Night released in December.
Saldana returned as Gamora in the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) released in May. She re-reprised the role in the sequel Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and in Avengers: Endgame released in April 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. Also that year, she appeared in My Little Pony: The Movie performing the voice of pirate parrot Captain Celaeno.
In June 2010, Saldana was engaged to her longtime boyfriend Keith Britton, an actor and the CEO of My Fashion Database. In November 2011, she and Britton announced they had ended their relationship after eleven years.
In March 2013, Saldana began dating Italian artist Marco Perego. They married in June 2013 in London. In July 2015, Saldana revealed Perego adopted her surname upon marriage. Thereafter, Zoe became Zoe Saldana-Perego and Marco became Marco Perego-Saldana. Their children would be Perego-Saldana. Saldana and Perego have three sons, twins born in November 2014 and the third born in February 2017. Saldana has stated her children will be multi-lingual because she and her husband speak Spanish and English around them.
In July 2016, during an interview with Net-a-Porter's The Edit, Saldana revealed 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.
|Denotes productions that have not yet been released|
|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|
|2020||Home Movie: The Princess Bride||Princess Buttercup||Episode: "Chapter Seven: The Pit Of Despair"|
|2013||Star Trek||Nyota Uhura|
Theme park attractions
|2017||Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission Breakout!||Gamora||Disney California Adventure|
Awards and nominations
This section of a biography of a living person needs additional citations for verification. (July 2020) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
|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|
|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||Nominated|
|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||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|
|2019||Teen Choice Awards||Choice Action Movie Actress||Avengers: Endgame||Nominated|
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Zoe Yadira Saldaña Nazario was born in New Jersey and raised in New York city. At the age of nine, her dad was killed in a vehicle wreck. Saldana and her two sisters were sent to live with their late father’s family in the Dominican Republic. Their Puerto Rican mother remained in New York city to earn money to pay for private school for her daughters. This was a culture shift for someone raised speaking Spanish at home.
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Zoë Saldana [...] appreciates anyone remembering the umlaut over the "e" in her first name. She doesn't insist upon it –- she is accustomed to writers leaving it out -– but this courtesy indicates to her somebody cares about the details. 'I really like the umlaut!'
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We hyphened, I'm Saldana-Perego and he's Perego-Saldana. I was a gentleman and I allowed the boys to be Perego-Saldana. I'm, like, 'Your name, like, needs to go, like, first'. But 'no', it was his decision!
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- "Zoe Saldana Shines on ESSENCE's April Cover". Essence. March 9, 2010. Retrieved December 27, 2017.
- Sandell, Laurie (March 1, 2010). "Zoë Saldana: The Most Elegant Member of the Glam New Guard". Glamour. Condé Nast. Retrieved December 27, 2017.