She's the highest-grossing Black actress of all time, and second on the list of all actresses. Our Black History Month highlighted performer today is megastar Zoe Saldana.
How You Know Her
She's Gamora in "Guardians of the Galaxy" and multiple "Avengers" movies. She's Uhura in the "Star Trek" movies. She's Neytiri in the "Avatar" films. And by 2019, her films had already earned over $11 billion worldwide.
Basically, if you're looking for your film to become a massive international blockbuster, she's the actress to cast in a major role. Also, she's not too bad in mid-budget and smaller films, too, appearing in lots of interesting projects that aren't action and sci-fi spectacles, including Steven Spielberg's "The Terminal," the animated gems "The Book of Life" and "Missing Link," and the documentary tribute to her fallen co-star Anton Yelchin, "Love, Antosha."
Their Life So Far
Born in New Jersey, raised in New York and the Dominican Republic, Saldana is a mix of ethnicities and cultures. Her dad was Dominican and Haitian, and her mother is Puerto Rican and Lebanese. Early on, Saldana's passion was dance, specifically ballet, but due to her physical limits in the field, she turned to acting and performing in the Faces theater group in Brooklyn.
In 1999 at age 21, Saldana combined her acting and dancing experience to portray a dancer in her feature debut, "Center Stage." A Britney Spears misfire (although box office hit) called "Crossroads" and a minor gem called "Drumline" later, the actress started to spread her franchise wings as part of the Johnny Depp-Orlando Bloom-Keira Knightley juggernaut "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl."
From there, she parlayed parts in further commercial projects ("Guess Who," "Vantage Point") to a pivotal year in 2009, when she made her first appearances in both the "Star Trek" and "Avatar" film series.
Since then, this familiar face has taken turns in more "Star Trek" movies, and after the premiere of "Guardians of the Galaxy" in 2015, plenty of appearances in the MCU.
The Movie to Watch
While "Avatar" proved to be the bigger behemoth of Saldana's movies of 2009, we really love her taking on the character of Nyota Uhura in J.J. Abrams' phenomenal "Star Trek" update. The entire cast is full of spirited choices, but Saldana's Uhura is everything we could have expected and more – graceful, intelligent, beautiful and empathetic. She's incredible as the communications officer aboard the Enterprise, and holds her own against any of her male counterparts. She's a strong role model for African-American girls to be just as powerful in real life and in the biggest motion pictures around.
What's Up Next
Besides an announced David O. Russell project which will co-star John David Washington, Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, Rami Malek, Robert De Niro, Mike Myers, Timothy Olyphant, Michael Shannon, Chris Rock and Anya Taylor-Joy (!), Saldana will also star once more in not one, but two "Avatar" sequels from writer-director-producer James Cameron. We'll be waiting anxiously for all of these projects.
More Black History Month Highlights:
Chuck is an editor/writer who's worked for NCM, Fandango, Movies.com, MediaTrip, Hollywood.com and Newsweek. His favorite movie is "Jaws." He's definitely a dog guy.