After six years of living in sci-fi superstardom, Zoe Saldana is coming back to earth by acting and speaking out like never before—on-screen with the controversial biopic Nina and IRL by tapping into her urban roots to create stories about women in art, fashion, and beyond—all through an American Latino filter.
Love is the feeling that greets Zoe Saldana every day: love for the craft of acting, love for her American Latino roots, and especially her passion for her Italian husband, Marco Perego, and the identical twins they welcomed in November 2014, Cy and Bowie. “I wake up with a big, fat smile on my face,” says the 37-year-old Dominican and Puerto Rican actress.
It’s early morning in the parched Hollywood Hills when a relaxed, graceful Zoe enters from the arched doorway of a Mediterranean-style villa, arriving for her Latina cover shoot. Every bit the bourgeois- bohemian, she’s wearing an oversize striped tank top and boyfriend jeans with the pant cuffs rolled up above her ankles. Trailing her is Marco, whose long, dirty-blond locks and tattoos, including a realistic one of Zoe, betray an artistic métier.
No sooner has she arrived than Zoe says she already misses her boys. “They love to dance,” she says with wonder, whipping out her phone to share a video of them crawling across the floor in their stark white onesies. Suddenly you hear Zoe in the background, breaking into a sort of merengue beatbox rhythm. A curious Bowie turns around, sits up on his diaper, and begins moving his little torso up and down to the sound of the beat. “He loves it,” Zoe says proudly. “Music is in his genes.”
The boys’ curious brown eyes dart between Zoe and the camera. Their mom is clearly a vital source of entertainment for them, as she is to the millions of moviegoers who support her blockbuster films, such as Avatar, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Star Trek, for which she is currently filming a third installment. Whether to make them gasp or laugh, seducing people into watching her is a preternatural gift written into the code of Zoe’s DNA.
In films, Zoe, who was raised in New York City and the Dominican Republic, smoothly immerses herself into any character or scenario, a quality that certainly helped catapult her into leading roles in movies like the powerful 2013 drama Out of the Furnace, in which Zoe combined an authentically raw exuberance with unspeakable pain at the loss of her relationship with the character played by Christian Bale.
In real life, Zoe’s the friend who laughs easily and loudly at your jokes and takes over the conversation when the urge to make a poignant point or up the ante with something funnier takes over. This is why we are under her spell. When she first attained fame, she said in many interviews that she wanted to remain grounded. During our interview, it’s clear that she’s done just that. One sign is that she convinces everyone on the set to listen to Bomba Estéreo, the Colombian electro-pop group. Another is that she insists we converse in Spanglish. Listen in.
KEEP READING THE COVER STORY TO WATCH ZOE'S BEHIND-THE-SCENES VIDEO FROM THE SHOOT >>