Name:
Zoe Saldana
Birth Date:
June 19, 1978
Birth Place:
New Jersey, USA
Height:
5' 7
Nationality:
American
Profession:
actress
Education:
ECOS Espacio de Danza Dance Academy in Dominican Republic
BIOGRAPHY
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Background:

    “... I will say is that my “Avatar” (2009) character, Neytiri, has been the most challenging of my entire career - physically, mentally, and spiritually. It's the first time I played a non-human, I had to learn a different language, and it was hard to part with her at the end. No matter how intense other characters have been, I've only been in their skins for at most four months - never a year and a half.” Zoe Saldana

Having her breakthrough role in “Center Stage” (2000), magnetic film actress Zoe Saldana went on to gain major recognition and popularity thanks to her roles as Lieutenant Nyota Uhura in  J.J. Abrams' “Star Trek” (2009) and as the sexy blue skinned Na'vi warrior, Neytiri, in James Cameron's “Avatar” (2009). She won a Boston Society of Film Critics Award for the first film and an Empire Award, a Saturn Award, a Teen Choice Award and a Visual Effects Society Award for the latter, among other nominations. The People's Choice Favorite Breakout Movie Actress nominee is also known for her roles in “Drumline” (2002), “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” (2003), “The Terminal” (2004), “Guess Who” (2005), “Vantage Point” (2008), “The Skeptic” (2009), “Death at a Funeral” (2010), “The Losers” (2010), “Takers” (2010) and “Colombiana” (2011). Moviegoers will soon see the natural thespian star in the forthcoming film “The Words” (2012).  

The 5' 7” tall performer was engaged to her long time boyfriend Keith Britton, an actor and CEO of My Fashion Database, in June 2010. The couple split up in November 2011, after having been together for 11 years. Saldana supports a microfinance organization, FINCA International.       


Dancer

Childhood and Family:

 Born Zoë Yadira Saldaña Nazario on June 19, 1978, in Passaic, New Jersey, Zoe Saldana was raised in nearby Queens, NY by her Dominican father (Aridio Saldaña) and Puerto Rican mother (Asalia Nazario). Her father was killed in a car accident when she was only nine years old. Following this, her mother moved the family to the Dominican Republic, where their extended family still lived. Zoe quickly discovered her love for performance dance and attended the esteemed ECOS Espacio de Danza Dance Academy, in which she was trained in ballet, jazz and modern Latin dance. When she was 17, her family returned back to Queens, New York. She joined several dance troops in NY, including  the FACES Theater Co., a group that specialized in improvisational and educational skits for teens, and also performed with the New York Youth Theater.   


Star Trek

Career:

Zoe Saldana got an agent after her performance in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” with the New York Youth Theater. Her first television role came in 1999 with an uncredited part in an episode of NBC's“Law & Order” called “Merger.” Thanks in part to her previous dance training, Saldana landed her first film role as Eva Rodríguez, the competent and willful ballet dancer on the Nicholas Hytner directed drama “Center Stage” (2000), opposite Amanda Schull, Susan May Pratt, Peter Gallagher, Debra Monk, Ethan Stiefel and Sascha Radetsky. The film earned average to negative reviews from critics and opened at No. 6 at the US box office, with $4,604,621 in its opening weekend.

2001 saw Saldana appear in two films. She played Melissa Sagemiller's stubborn and somewhat duplicitous best friend, Maggie, on the teen comedy “Get Over It,” which grossed $19,900,366 worldwide against a budget of $10 million, and co-starred with Sam Jones III and Nelly in the hip hop drama “Snipes,” which premiered at the 2001 Toronto International Film Festival on September 13. In the next year, she was cast alongside Taryn Manning and Britney Spears in the pop star big screen vehicle “Crossroads”  and played the love interest of Nick Cannon in the independent music themed drama “Drumline,” where the two shared a MTV Movie nomination in the category of Best Kiss for their performance. While the first was a moderate commercial success, the latter movie enjoyed a success at the box office  by earning a total of over $57.5 million worldwide against an original budget of $20 million. “Drumline” also received extremely good reviews from critics.

Saldana's career gained huge boost when she was cast in the first of “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie series, “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” (2003), opposite Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, as the pirate wench Anamaria. The film was an unanticipated success, with rave reviews and grossing over $654 million worldwide. After a brief return to the small screen with a guest spot in “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (2004), playing Gabrielle Vega, the actress played Dolores Torres, an IINS Inspector who marries Enrique (played by Diego Luna), in  Steven Spielberg's comedy/drama, “The Terminal” (2004), which, despite mixed reviews, was a success at the box office, reunited with Orlando Bloom in the Toronto premiered “Haven” (2004) and co-starred with Adam Pascal and Alice Ripley in “Temptation” (2004), a rock musical version of “Faust.”

In 2005, Saldana offered a notable performance as Theresa Jones in “Guess Who,” a comedy film about race relations directed by Kevin Rodney Sullivan. Working alongside Ashton Kutcher and Bernie Mac, she was nominated for a Black Movie Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, a Black Reel Award for Best Actress, an Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture and a Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Breakout Performance - Female for her efforts. The film grossed $68,915,888 in the US and $32,950,142 elsewhere for a total of  $101,866,030     worldwide. The same year, Saldana also starred in the teen comedy “Dirty Deeds,” with Milo Ventimiglia, Lacey Chabert and Charles Durning, was cast as Billy Dee Williams' daughter in  “Constellation” and appeared in the Dominican Republic film “The Curse of Father Cardona” (aka. “La maldición del padre Cardona”).

Saldana starred with Dorian Missick in the award winning comedy/drama film “Premium” (2006), by Pete Chatmon, and with Wood Harris, Brian J. White and Mýa in Dennis Cooper's romance/comedy film, “The Heart Specialist,” which premiered at the 2006 Boston Film Festival and would be  released in limited theaters in the United States later on January 14, 2011. In Eric Amadio's indie  comedy/drama  “ After Sex” (2007), she portrayed Kat, opposite Mila Kunis, Jane Seymour, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Marc Blucas and Taryn Manning. She played Claudine in the real life inspired drama “Blackout” (2007), based on the largest blackout in U.S. history in 2003. Meanwhile, on television, Saldana had a recurring role as Regina in the ABC short lived series “Six Degrees” during 2006-2007.

Following a work with top names like Dennis Quaid, Forest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver and William Hurt in the political action /thriller film “Vantage Point” (2008), in which she portrayed GNN reporter Angie Jones, Saldana was put back on the limelight when she was cast as Lt. Nyota Uhura, communications officer of the Starship Enterprise, in J. J. Abrams'  reboot of the highly awaited “Star Trek” (2009), the eleventh film based on the “Star Trek” franchise. The film went on to become a box office victory by grossing over $385.7 million worldwide (budget $150 million), and won an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Makeup, making it the first “Star Trek” film ever to do so. For her acting, Saldana picked up a Boston Society of Film Critics for Best Cast and several awards nominations, like an ALMA for Outstanding Actress – Motion Picture, a Broadcast Film Critics Association for Best Cast, a Constellation for Best Female Performance in a 2009 Science Fiction Film, TV Movie, or Mini-Series, a Teen Choice for Choice Movie Actress – Action Adventure and a Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association for Best Ensemble.

Saldana acquired further success with her performance in James Cameron's successful epic, “Avatar” (2009), opposite Sam Worthington, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver, Joel David Moore and Giovanni Ribisi. As Neytiri, the daughter of the leader of the Omaticaya, she won a Saturn for Best Actress, an Empire for Best Actress, a Teen Choice for Choice Movie Actress: Sci-Fi and a VES for Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture as well as was nominated for a BET Award for Best Actress, a Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actress, an Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture, Blimp Award for Cutest Couple and Favorite Movie Actress, two MTV Movie Awards for Best Female Performance and Best Kiss and an SFX Award for Best Actress.     

2009 also saw the actress play a young psychic named Cassie in the thriller film “The Skeptic,” opposite Tim Daly and Tom Arnold.

In 2010, Saldana worked with Loretta Devine, Peter Dinklage, Danny Glover, Regina Hall,   Martin Lawrence, James Marsden and Tracy Morgan in the Neil LaBute directed black comedy “Death at a Funeral,” a remake of the 2007 British film. Playing Elaine, she was nominated for a Teen Choice for Choice Movie Actress: Comedy and a BET Award for Best Actress for her performance. She played a mysterious woman named Aisha in the English language action based on the adaptation of the Vertigo comic book series of the same name by Andy Diggle and Jock, “The Losers” (2010), from which she received an Image nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture and a Teen Choice for Choice Movie Actress: Action Adventure. Also in that same year, Saldana appeared in the satirical film  “Burning Palms,” opposite Dylan McDermott and Shannen Doherty, and the ensemble crime/thriller “Takers,” with Matt Dillon, Paul Walker and Idris Elba.

 In 2011, Saldana starred as an assassin avenging her parents murders in the French/American film “Colombiana,” co-written (with Robert Mark Kamen) and produced by Luc Besson and directed by Olivier Megaton. For her fine acting, she was nominated for a Black Reel Award for Best Actress and an Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture.  2011 also saw the actress make her directorial debut with a short film called “Kaylien.” She went on to direct an episode of “The Ropes” called “V-Day” (2012).   

Saldana will star as Dora Jansen in the upcoming drama/thriller movie “The Words,” written and directed by Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal. The film is set to be released on September 21, 2012. Additionally, she is scheduled to appear in Scott Cooper's thriller, “Out of the Furnace” (2014, with Christian Bale), in an “ Untitled Star Trek Sequel” (2013) and in “Avatar 2” (2016, rumored).     


Awards:

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA: Saturn Award, Best Actress, “Avatar,” 2010
Empire: Best Actress, “Avatar,” 2010
Teen Choice: Choice Movie Actress: Sci-Fi, “Avatar,” 2010
Visual Effects Society (VES): Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture, “Avatar,” 2010
Boston Society of Film Critics (BSFC): Best Ensemble Cast, “Star Trek,” 2009 Show Less
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