Can't get enough of our December/January cover star, Zoe Saldana? Then check out these exclusive quotes from her cover shoot, and don't miss her interview on newsstands November 10!
On body positivity: I remember years ago that my mother was talking with other women, and she said, “The body is not what’s tainted. It’s the mind.” And that stayed with me for a very long time. It’s a logical way of viewing that fine line between what is considered gratuitous and what is considered beautiful, erotic and healthy. I come from a family where you’re very respectful — not conservative — just very respectful in everything. When we go to the beach, everyone is wearing Brazilian thongs, and it doesn’t even matter if you’re skinny or super voluptuous. It’s a beautiful thing to embrace yourself as you are. I grew up knowing very distinctively what is considered respectful and proper. But also, [I knew] what is considered free and natural. Those things are very clear to us. When you’re from the Caribbean, you’re always near water. So you’re going to the beach all the time.
On whether she has decided to support a presidential candidate in 2016: [Shakes her head.] No. When it comes to politics, I like to exercise my civilian right to be private. I’m going to vote, but I’m not a political person. I’m an artist. AI’ve been really busy with motherhood and working, so, starting this November, I have a full year to do my work and my research [on the candidates.] My mother was a huge advocate about el voto. If you’re her neighbor and you’re running, she'll vote for you. My grandmother was always like, "Before you open your mouth, know what the f--k you’re going to say. If not, ‘shut up.’"
On what it means to be an artist: Art needs your experiences in your life. Art needs you to live in order for you to continue to grow.
On balancing her work life and home life: You come home, you spend time with your family, you stay a little extra after the dinner has been eaten. Y tu hablas. Conversas con tu familia. It’s very important, because by the time you go back to work, it doesn’t feel like work. There’s a separation between being physically tired and being fatigued overall. I don’t like being fatigued. But when my mind is tired, I’m not… no estoy balanceada. No gusta porque me pongo triste.
On her roots in the Caribbean: My mom always made us read out loud in Spanish. She taught us how to read and write in Spanish. At nine or ten years old, we moved to the Caribbean. I wasn’t born in the Dominican Republic; I was born in the United States, then we moved to the DR for seven years. We did the reverse. I was born in my country, and I went to my mother’s country, back to my parents, to my roots. It was hard because you’re forced to do just one thing: un solo idioma, una sola costumbre, la cultura Latina es muy tradicional, muy conservada, muy respetuosa y mas con las hembras muy controladora. It’s controlling.
On immigration critics: The reality is that you can prolong the inevitable, but you will never stop it. Latinos are the majority in this nation.
On her Puerto Rican ancestry: Mi mama. Mi mama es mitad. El papa de mi mama era puertorriqueño. Nació en Puerto Rico. Mi mama, before she moved to the Bronx, used to divide her time between DR and Puerto Rico; she’d spend summers in Puerto Rico con su papi and half of her siblings — they were half siblings. Porque ella era hija unica por parte de mama y papa, pero half of her siblings were born and raised in Puerto Rico.
On whether her culture influences her roles, particularly in Avatar: Avatar was not a culture thing by any means. Avatar was more primal. If anything, that was a very profound, a very sincere approach. I didn't need to study culture, because that was all nurture. [Neytiri] was nature. It was more studying animals and children, because they're at their rawest and they're the most honest creatures.
On how Salma Hayek dreamed her sons were born:: We went to a premiere she was having in Cannes, and we had just learned on that trip that we were trip. Salma was with her daughter [Valentina] and her husband [Francois], and she gave me a glass of champagne. Marco and I said “No” at the same time! She just gave us a look.
Ella es como media bruja. She just kept the party going.
Then, I told her a few months later we were pregnant. When the boys were born, I got this email from her. And Francois emailed my husband, and he said, “Salma dreamed of Zoe. Did you have the babies?” And we were like, ‘Holy shit!” Because they were premies [premature], and we hadn’t told anybody. It just happened to quickly. I was still in bed in the hospital, and Marco was like, “Did you get an email from Salma?” I said, “I did. Isn’t that weird?” She’s connected.
On Nina Simone, whom she portrays in the forthcoming film Nina: She never wanted to be a jazz singer. She was a classical pianist who practiced every day since she was eight years old She was prepping eights years for that audition at the Curtis Institute Of Music, and not only did they reject her, but they made her believe that it was her fault, that she wasn’t good enough. In reality, they rejected her because, at the time, they could only take certain black people at a time. They had already taken an opera singer, so they couldn’t take Nina. Her soul never understood that — that broke her heart. I wanted to understand her.
On working with her sister, Mariel and Cisely Saldana, on their joint project, Cinestar Productions: We love women. We love content for women. We have the same outlook of wanting to see more female presence in art. We want to be the part of the evolution, part of that crew that’s creating art that has a more accurate depiction of women, a reflection of it, a mirror of it.
We don’t just want to make content for Latinos. We want to be part of that revolution that keeps everybody together. We want to share the same stories, but with our flavor. That’s all. The stories of falling in love.