Zoe Saldana covers the latest issue of InStyle to promote Avatar: The Way of Water and the Netflix series From Scratch. I never really think of Zoe as, like, a major, in-demand actress, but she’s part of three big franchises: Avatar, Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Trek. Beyond that, she’s a working actress booking regular films and TV shows. She’s able to wear her stardom lightly, and it feels like she’s still “on the come-up” in some ways, right? Maybe that’s just my perception of her. Anyway, Zoe chatted with InStyle about the environment, her good-looking children and how much her body hurts now (she’s 44). Some highlights:
On Avatar’s impact then and now: “I had no idea Avatar was going to have the impact that it did on such a global scale… I had so much hope that it was going to be well-received, because it just felt so special to me…. This conversation around the environment has become a global social dilemma. And what I admire the most is that the younger generations are the ones that are guiding this narrative.”
On being a woman of color in her industry: “Maybe because I’m a woman of color, you can’t look back into your history and not feel a level of sadness. It’s just history. It’s what happened. I was always more charmed by the prospects of the future and what that would represent,” she says of her explorations on the USS Enterprise and time as Avatar’s Neytiri. “I get to imagine something that is completely unimaginable. It just made me feel more free, that I can try new things and not be judged for it because you can’t compare to anything. I always felt that science fiction gave me that freedom — that sense of escapism — and a sense of comfort.”
Her old dance moves: “I like to believe that I still have it. But no, I probably don’t even have half of what I used to have in terms of ability, range, and elasticity. My body hurts now. It just hurts.”
On her three children: “They are going to grow up to be really pretty nerds. I know that every parent finds their children super-handsome. Maybe that’s what’s to blame. But I look at my kids and I’m like, ‘My god, you guys are so f–king handsome.’”
On being drawn to curious people: “I’ve always felt very insecure around people that are just too cool and that have themselves so put together and know exactly what to say and know everything. I’ve always felt very unstable around people like that,” she says. “I like to be around people that are naturally curious and honest about the curiosity. And when they don’t know something, I like when they say, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ My kids are like that; they feel so present.”
“Maybe because I’m a woman of color, you can’t look back into your history and not feel a level of sadness.” Minus that terribly-reviewed Nina Simone bio-pic, Zoe has not done many historical films or historical dramas. I always think Black actors are between a rock and hard place, because clearly, every few years, there’s going to be another big movie about American slavery. Some Black actors opt out of that completely, and some wait for the right role in those kinds of “historical” movies. I think the larger point is that all aspects of Black history should be dramatized in film and television, not just the worst parts. I can see why she’s leaned into sci-fi so hard. As for her kids… I’m including a photo of Zoe with her kids from 2018, when they were very little. They are some cute babies. The youngest seems to take after Marco and the twins take after Zoe.
Cover & IG courtesy of JD Barnes/InStyle, additional photo courtesy of Avalon Red.
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