Zoe Saldaña has appeared in some of the most financially successful blockbuster films throughout her career. Iconic roles like Neytiri in James Cameron’s Avatar, and Gamora in Marvel's Cinematic Universe have contributed to her status as a prominent and respected actress in Hollywood. Saldaña’s ability to portray strong, complex, and memorable characters has also cemented her place in popular culture.
When it comes to choosing films
Saldaña credits her Caribbean roots for having significantly influenced her choice of roles and contributed to her advocacy for diversity and inclusion in Hollywood.
Born in Passaic, New Jersey, to a Puerto Rican mother and a Dominican father, Saldaña has often spoken about how her background has shaped her worldview and approach to her work. Growing up in a household that celebrated different cultures, she developed a strong sense of self and a deep appreciation for diversity. Her cultural heritage and upbringing have influenced her perspective and identity, both personally and professionally.
Throughout her acting career, Zoe Saldaña has taken on roles that showcase her versatility and ability to portray characters from various backgrounds. She has embraced roles that celebrate her Caribbean heritage, such as playing Neytiri in James Cameron's Avatar. Saldaña's performance in Avatar was critically acclaimed and helped propel her career to new heights.
Beyond her specific roles, Saldaña has also been vocal about the importance of diversity and representation in the entertainment industry. She has advocated for more opportunities for actors from underrepresented backgrounds and has used her platform to raise awareness about the challenges faced by people of color in the industry.
Culturally Significant and Iconic Roles
Zoe Saldaña has portrayed several iconic roles throughout her career, captivating audiences worldwide. In 2009, Saldaña played the role of Neytiri, a member of the Na'vi species on the planet Pandora. Her performance in this groundbreaking film earned her widespread recognition and established her as a versatile and talented actress.
In 2011, she showcased her ability to carry a film as the lead in Colombiana, an action-packed drama about a woman bent on vengeance after witnessing the murder of her parents.
The Caribbean-American actress continued to ride the wave of success as Nyota Uhura, a communications officer aboard the starship Enterprise, in J.J. Abrams' reboot of the Star Trek franchise. She appeared in Star Trek (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), and Star Trek Beyond (2016).
Since her ground-breaking film, Saldaña became well-known in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In 2014, she portrayed Gamora, a fierce and skilled assassin and member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Saldaña appeared as Gamora in multiple Marvel films, including Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and Avengers: Endgame (2019). Most recently, she starred alongside an all-star cast, including Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord and Dave Bautista as Drax, in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which was released in May 2023.
Saying Goodbye to Guardians of the Galaxy
Despite her success in sci-fi action and adventure movies, Saldaña would like to branch out into other genres. After nearly a decade with the superhero franchise - Marvel, Saldaña confirmed to Total Film magazine her role as the alien assassin Gamora will come to an end in the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
“I think the time has come for me to step down, and for the next generation to come forward.”
She added that she would like to see a new actor play Gamora. "The one thing I would not want is for Gamora to go away. She’s been such an impactful character for fans, and especially female fans, and young female fans. I would love for Marvel to figure out a way to find that next generation of actors that can incarnate these characters, and give them this immortality that fans generationally keep coming back to… But me, per se? I mean, I signed up for one, and I got 10 years. Lucky me, man. I have no complaints. And I’m moving on with so much grace and gratitude in my heart."
Zoe Saldana discusses her role as Gamora coming to an end .
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 marks the final chapter of the Guardians trilogy. The film received positive reviews and has grossed over $528 million worldwide, becoming the fourth-highest-grossing film of 2023.
With an impressive resume under her belt, Saldaña’s future looks bright. She is set to reprise her role as Neytiri in several upcoming Avatar films. The third and highly anticipated installment, Avatar 3 is scheduled to be released in December 2024, with Avatar 4 and 5 set to be released in 2026 and 2028 respectively. The actress is also working on two exciting projects, The Absence of Eden and The Bluff.
The Absence of Eden boasts an impressive cast, including Garrett Hedlund, and the legendary Tom Waits, and tells the gripping story of an ICE agent struggling with the moral dilemmas of border security and an undocumented woman fighting to escape a ruthless cartel.
The Bluff, a Caribbean action-survival movie set in the 19th century, follows a former female pirate, Ercell (Saldaña) who must protect her family when the mysterious sins of her past catch up to her. This film, produced by Anthony and Joe Russo (producers of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame) will further expand Zoe Saldaña’s relationship with the pair.
I am eagerly awaiting these upcoming projects - both of which I believe will contribute to Zoe Saldaña’s growth as an actress and inspire the next generation of Caribbean-American actors.