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Zoë Saldana

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Zoë Saldana (born 19 June 1978; age 37) is an American actress and model who plays Nyota Uhura in Star Trek and its sequel Star Trek Into Darkness. She took over the role from Nichelle Nichols, who played the role on Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Animated Series, and in six feature films.

In addition to playing Uhura, Saldana is known for her role as Na'vi princess Neytiri in James Cameron's science fiction epic Avatar, which is currently the highest-grossing film of all time. She is also known for her work in such films as Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Drumline, The Terminal, Guess Who, The Losers, and Colombiana.

Early life and career

Saldana was born Zoë Yadira Zaldaña Nazario in New Jersey to immigrants from the Dominican Republic and raised in Queens, New York. After her father's death in a car accident when she was nine, Saldana and her sisters moved with their mother to the Dominican Republic.

While in the Republic, Saldana took ballet lessons. She ultimately returned to the United States and joined the Faces Theater Program in Brooklyn, New York. While there, she won an uncredited appearance in a 1999 episode of Law & Order, the long-running NBC series that was executive produced by Rene Balcer. She left the Faces program after making her feature film debut in the 2000 musical drama Center Stage, co-starring Star Trek: Insurrection actress Donna Murphy.

Film work


Following Center Stage, Saldana worked alongside Kirsten Dunst in the 2001 high school comedy Get Over It. She then acted with Kim Cattrall in 2002's Crossroads. That same year, she played the female lead in the musical romantic comedy Drumline, for which she shared an MTV Movie Award nomination for Best Kiss with her co-star Nick Cannon.

Saldana next appeared as Anamarie in Disney's 2003 blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (with Lee Arenberg, Greg Ellis and Guy Siner). She then had a supporting role in Steven Spielberg's 2004 comic drama The Terminal, in which she played an airport immigration officer who happened to be a devout Trekkie. Jude Ciccolella and Michael Nouri also had roles in this film.


File:JJ Abrams coaches Zoë Saldana.jpg
Zoe Saldana and Nichelle Nichols

Saldana with Nichelle Nichols, the original Nyota Uhura, on the set of Star Trek

In the 2005 independent film Constellation, Saldana played the daughter of Clarence Williams III's character and also co-starred with fellow Star Trek players David Clennon, Alec Newman, and Gabrielle Union. Later, Saldana starred in the 2005 comedy Guess Who (co-starring Robert Curtis Brown) as an African-American woman who brings home a white fiancé. This role earned her nominations from at least four different organizations: the Black Movie Awards, the Black Reel Awards, the Image Awards, and the Teen Choice Awards.

Her subsequent film credits include Dirty Deeds with Michael Bofshever, Premium with William Sadler, Ways of the Flesh with Irene Tsu, and Blackout with Saul Rubinek. In 2008, she appeared in the thriller Vanatage Point, which also featured Bruce McGill. The following year, she starred in another thriller, The Skeptic, in which she played a psychic.

Saldana was working on James Cameron's blockbuster film Avatar when Abrams offered her Star Trek. Because she was already committed to a project and had a "lack of knowledge about Star Trek," Saldana was reluctant to accept the role of Uhura. Despite the scheduling issues it would cause, Cameron insisted that Saldana take the role, even going so far as to invite Abrams to the set to discuss the situation. [1]

After finishing Star Trek, Saldana completed her work on Avatar, in which she starred as a Na'vi woman named Neytiri, a completely computer-generated character. Scott Lawrence and Peter Mensah also had roles in the film, while James Horner composed the score. Released in December 2009, Avatar is now the highest-grossing movie in the world (not accounting for inflation). Saldana has signed on to appear in any potential sequels to the film.[2] In 2010, she received a Saturn Award nomination for Best Actress for her performance in Avatar. [3] In addition, Saldana received nominations for Best Female Performance and Best Kiss, shared with Sam Worthington, at the 2010 MTV Movie Awards for her work on Avatar. [4] [5]

2010 and beyond

MA 2009Warning! This section may contain spoilers for new Star Trek material.

Saldana was seen in three major motion pictures released in 2010. The first was the comedy remake Death at a Funeral, which also featured Ron Glass. The week after Death at a Funeral was released, Saldana was seen in the action film The Losers. Based on the comic books published by DC Comics' Vertigo imprint, The Losers had Saldana starring opposite Star Trek: Enterprise guest actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan. The third major 2010 film featuring Saldana, and the most popular at the box office, was the crime thriller Takers. In addition to those films, Saldana acted alongside Greg Grunberg in the short film Idiots and starred in the independent comedy-drama Burning Palms, which co-starred Jason Brooks and Tom Wright.

More recently Saldana played the lead role, Cataleya Restrepo, in the 2011 action thriller Colombiana, for which she received nominations as Best Actress at the Image Awards and the Black Reel Awards. Her co-stars in this film included Jordi Mollà, who was considered for the role of Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek Into Darkness before the part went to Benedict Cumberbatch.[6]

In 2012, Saldana was seen in the romantic drama The Words, which also featured Michael McKean. She can next be seen in the crime thriller Blood Ties, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2013. She recently completed filming on the biographical drama Nina (with Spencer Garrett), in which she stars as legendary musician Nina Simone. She will also be seen in the ensemble thriller Out of the Furnace and is currently filming Infinitely Polar Bear, a comedy that is being executive produced by J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk through Bad Robot.

In addition to her expected return as Neytiri in the developing sequels to Avatar, Saldana is also in talks to play the green-skinned Gamora in Marvel Studios' superhero sci-fi/action film Guardians of the Galaxy. The film, based on characters appearing in Marvel Comics magazines, is set to begin production in June 2013 for release in August 2014.[7]

In 2013, Saldana received a nomination at the Teen Choice Awards in the category Choice Summer Movie Star: Female for her appearance in Star Trek Into Darkness. [8]


Following her appearance on Law & Order, Saldana guest-starred in a 2004 episode of its spin-off series, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In 2006, Saldana worked with Star Trek director and producer J.J. Abrams and executive producer Bryan Burk for the first time when she had a recurring role on the short-lived television series Six Degrees.

On 22 January 2010, Saldana participated in the fund-raising program Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief. She was among the celebrities who operated the phones for the benefit, along with her Star Trek co-stars Tyler Perry and Chris Pine, Star Trek: Voyager actress Jeri Ryan, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country actor Christian Slater, and Robin Williams.[9]

Saldana served as presenter for the categories Best Animated Short, Best Documentary Short, and Best Live Action Short at the 82nd Annual Academy Awards in 2010. Two films she was in, Star Trek and Avatar, were nominated in various categories at these awards.

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