Birthdate: June 19, 1978
Birthplace: Passaic, New Jersey, USA
Zoe Saldana (birthname: Zoe Yadira Saldaña-Perego) is a versatile performer best known as the star of James Cameron’s Avatar (2012) and a co-star of Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and Avengers: Endgame (2019), making her (as of 2019) the second highest-grossing female film actor in history.
This ranking was solidified in 2022 with the theatrical re-release of a remastered Avatar and the holiday release of Cameron’s sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water. Saldana’s feature debut, spurred by her ballet training, was Center Stage (2000), with Amanda Schull, Peter Gallagher, and Donna Murphy. Saldana joined Kirsten Dunst and Ben Foster for Get Over It (2001), a teen comedy remake of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, followed by her first co-starring role in Tamra Davis’ Crossroads (2002), written by Shonda Rhimes and co-starring Britney Spears, Taryn Manning, and Dan Aykroyd.
Zoe Saldana co-starred with Nick Cannon in Fox’s successful high school comedy-drama, Drumline (2002), with Orlando Jones, and then landed her first role in a huge franchise with Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), with Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, and Orlando Bloom.
In the early 2000s, Zoe Saldana became a familiar presence in wide-audience entertainments, such as Steven Spielberg’s comedy-drama, The Terminal (2004), with Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Stanley Tucci. Saldana’s next notable film was the Sony comedy remake of Stanley Kramer’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) titled Guess Who (2005), starring Bernie Mac and Ashton Kutcher.
After several minor indie films, Saldana was part of the ensemble of the Sony Pictures’ thriller, Vantage Point (2008), with Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver, and William Hurt. The next major franchise in which Saldana was cast as Uhura was J.J. Abrams’ reboot, Star Trek (2009), with Chris Pine, John Cho, Ben Cross, Bruce Greenwood, and Winona Ryder; this was followed by Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) and Star Trek Beyond (2016).
This led to Zoe Saldana’s acclaimed performance as the main heroine, Neytiri, in Cameron’s Avatar, with Sam Worthington, establishing tremendous global audience awareness of Saldana, and earning an extraordinary global gross exceeding $3 billion—or, in other terms, massively multiplying the total combined grosses of all of Saldana’s previous movies.
Saldana followed this with the action movie, The Losers (2010), with Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Idris Elba, and Chris Evans, and then another crime-flavored thriller, Takers (2010), with Matt Dillon, Paul Walker, Elba, and Hayden Christensen. Saldana was part of the ensemble of the black comedy, Death at a Funeral (2010), with Loretta Devine, Peter Dinklage, Danny Glover, and Regina Hall.
Zoe Saldana’s name was above the title for the first time in director Olivier Megaton’s thriller, Colombiana (2011), with Cliff Curtis. Saldana’s name was also above the title, with cast mates Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, and Olivia Wilde in co-writers/co-directors Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal’s drama, The Words (2012).
Blood Ties (2013), the interesting French-American crime film by French writer-director Guillaume Canet and co-writer James Gray, co-starred Saldana with Clive Owen, Billy Crudup, Marion Cotillard, Mila Kunis, Matthias Schoenaerts, and James Caan. Saldana was part of another interesting crime film, writer-director Ben Affleck’s adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel, Live by Night (2016), with Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, and Chris Cooper.
Coming aboard yet another blockbuster franchise, Zoe Saldana took on the role of Gamora in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), with Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper, grossing $773 million globally, leading to sequels, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023).
Saldana carried over her Gamora character into other Marvel mega-hits, Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019)--the latter topping the all-time box-office record at $2.8 billion, which was then surpassed again by Avatar topping $3 billion in re-release in Mainland China. This made Zoe Saldana the only actor starring or co-starring in the top two-grossing movies of all time.
Along with fellow voice actors Diego Luna and Channing Tatum, Saldana co-starred in Jorge R. Gutierrez’s animated feature, The Book of Life (2014), which grossed over $100 million for distributor 20th Century Fox. This was followed by Scott Cooper’s crime drama, Out of the Furnace (2013), with Saldana co-starring with Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Forest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe, and Sam Shepard.
Saldana led the cast of the Anders Walter/Joe Kelly fantasy film, I Kill Giants (2018), with Madison Wolfe and Imogen Poots, followed by the successful Hasbro animated film, My Little Pony: The Movie (2017), with Saldana joining a voice cast including Uzo Aduba, Liev Schreiber, Emily Blunt, and Taye Diggs. Saldana’s active career as a voice actor in animation continued in 2019 in Chris Butler’s non-CGI animated comedy, Missing Link (2019), with Hugh Jackman, Zach Galifianakis, and Emma Thompson, and nominated for the Best Animated Feature Oscar.
Zoe Saldana has become one of the go-to stars for Hollywood animators, starring with Lin-Manuel Miranda in Sony Pictures Animation/Netflix’s Vivo (2021), followed by another Netflix production, The Adam Project (2022), directed by Shawn Levy and starring Ryan Reynolds, Mark Ruffalo, and Jennifer Garner. Saldana’s busy 2022 included the theatrical re-release of the technically upgraded Avatar, followed by the fall release of David O.
Russell’s star-heavy comedy, Amsterdam, co-starring Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Chris Rock, Anya Taylor-Joy, Mike Myers, Michael Shannon, Timothy Olyphant, Andrea Riseborough, Taylor Swift, Matthias Schoenaerts, and Robert De Niro. Saldana’s 2022 was capped with the release of James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water, with Sam Worthington, and anticipated as few features have been in recent history. Saldana’s Neytiri will again be seen in 2024 with Avatar 3, in 2026 with Avatar 4, and in 2028 with Avatar 5.
Though born in Passaic, New Jersey, Zoe Saldana was raised in the New York City neighborhood of Jackson Heights, by mother Asalia Nazario and Aridio Saldaña, who died when Zoe was nine years old. Later, her mother married Dagoberto Galán. Saldana’s siblings are Cisely, Mariel, and half-sibling Nipo Saldaña.
Her family relocated to the Dominican Republic, where Saldana studied ballet and was schooled until her high school sophomore year when the family moved back to Queens in New York City. There, Saldana attended Newtown High School, and later performed in the New York Youth Theater. Saldana has been married to Marco Perego-Saldana since 2013; the couple has three children, twins Cy and Bowie, and son Zen. Her height is 5’ 7”. Saldana’s net worth is estimated at $35 million.
Money Woman: Zoe Saldana is a supporter of the microfinance group, FINCA International.
Pro-Diversity: Saldana is the founder of BESE, a digital media platform designed to promote diversity representation in mainstream media.
Children: Zoe Saldana and her husband Marco have given interesting names to their children, including Zen, Cy (named for the American artist Cy Twombly), and Bowie (named for David Bowie).