Zoe Saldana on racism and diversity in Hollywood

By Sugandha Rawal

Tokyo–She faced a backlash for not being “black enough” for the Nina Simone biopic last year, and Zoe Saldana wishes there wasn’t any need to “feel so bothered by race” in Hollywood.

The American actress of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent says she doesn’t agree at all with the idea of segregating people as “white and black”.

The actress also points out that there are a “lot of cultures and women under-represented and overlooked” in Hollywood at present. But she is happy with all the discussions around diversity and inclusion in the entertainment industry.

Zoe Saldana

“We have to address it. It is the big white elephant in the room,” says Saldana.

“The words white and black are so hurtful to me because I wish we didn’t have to feel so bothered by race,” Saldana told IANS during a Disney press meet for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”, which is releasing in India on May 5.

She added: “But the reality is that there are a lot of cultures and a lot of women that are just under-represented and overlooked. I think the fact that we are having a conversation is a step forward in our evolution as a society.”

The colour debate has been underway for long in India and abroad, but got attracted attention with the diversity row after the 2016 Oscar nominations.

Hollywood has also been accused of whitewashing Asian characters with Scarlett Johansson’s character in “Ghost in the Shell” and Tilda Swinton as the master in “Doctor Strange” being cases in point.

Saldana thinks “artistes are true historians of time”, and it is their responsibility to reflect the truths of society through the medium.

“They have (to) document their time and how it is affecting them as people. When art is misrepresenting what the world (truly) is, then we are not giving our future a right depiction of how things really were,” said the actress, who is married to Marco Perego.

Born to a Dominican father and a Puerto Rican mother, Saldana spent her initial growing up years in New York. She was sent to the Dominican Republic at age of nine along with her sisters, Mariel and Cisely, by her mother after her father died in a car accident.

She returned to New York with the aim of making a career in the world of dance as a ballerina, but instead entered Hollywood in 2000 with the film “Center Stage”.

She has three popular film franchises — “Avatar”, “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Star Trek” — on her resume. She was also part of films like “Crossroads”, “Get Over It”, “Haven” and “Premium” before hitting jackpot with James Cameron’s projects “Avatar” and the “Star Trek” reboot in 2009.

Saldana, who also owns a production house with her sister’s Cinestar Pictures, added that she is curious about the sci-fi genre as “one gets to tell simple stories in an unconventional way against such an imaginative background, which is what space is”.

Zoe Saldana

For now, she is excited about her second outing as the green-skinned alien named Gamora in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”. The film also stars Chris Pratt and Dave Bautista, and has Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot and Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” is a story of misfits uniting together to save the galaxy. And the mother of three says that factor appealed to her. (IANS)

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