Zoe Saldana: ‘We’re all ethnic in America. None of us are aboriginal people’

Zoe Saldana

Here are some photos of Zoe Saldana with Marco Perego (and his interesting ‘stache) out for lunch on Sunday. Zoe hasn’t stopped for even a moment during her pregnancy. She’s not filming, but she’s been promoting her work like crazy. Soon after she gives birth, all of her franchises — Avatar, Star Trek & Guardians — will come calling for sequels. The workload sounds rough with twins on the way, but Marco will probably be a hands-on dad. He seems like he would be, right?

Zoe appears in an episode of AOL’s brand new web series, My Hero, and she did an interview with Popwatch to promote the appearance. Zoe said that her hero is her mother, who taught her daughters how to be tough. Her mom sounds pretty rad, and I love what Zoe has to say about the film roles she chooses to pursue. I really like that part of the discussion because she expresses herself so clearly. Zoe drops some f-bombs when the subject changes to her distaste for the word “ethnic.” Let’s do this:

Zoe’s hero is her mom: “As a parent, she put us first–and we lost a parent, so she had to become those two anchors in our lives. She’s not perfect, but she always did her best and that’s something that’s worth recognizing. And [she] really let us find our own voice. My mom never manipulated us to become something that she wanted us to become because it was better for her. She always just told us the best advice–‘I just want you happy.’ That’s also very hard to find.”

On playing badass women: “I don’t choose strong over–I choose real women. I feel like that’s different way of looking at it. In order for me to choose strong roles for women, that means that I’m noticing weakness–and it’s not the weakness that I’m noticing. It’s an inaccurate interpretation, [a] portrayal of female characters in stories that I’m naturally against. I have, like, an allergic reaction to it. The moment I read a story and I go, ‘Oh okay, well, she’s serviceable. There’s nothing special that she’s contributing to the story besides just being there to make the man comfortable, soothe him, fight for him, die for him–and he clearly doesn’t give a f— about her, because he’s trying to find his own self.’ You kind of go, ‘Eh, no I don’t want to promote that anymore.’ I want to be a part of stories where women are important. It doesn’t have to be bigger roles; it doesn’t have to be action-driven. That is a desire of mine, because I’m a very active, athletic person, and that is something I purposely go after because I enjoy it. I also know that there’s a strong message for young females… Don’t just think of yourself as a delicate petal. You can jump, you can climb, you can punch, you can throw balls. Just think of yourself as all these other things as well.”

Balancing baby with her sequels: “I know that we will work everything out. I have to say, I’m very lucky. They’ve been very understanding, especially with what’s happening in my personal life. I’ve gotten nothing but support. To know that we are getting to that place where women can have that support from male driven workforces is–I have to say, it’s very inspiring. And also, they don’t have a choice! I’m not going to rip my child off my tit to go work. Like, you just cannot do it. What kind of mother would I be? There’s no choice. It’s like, ‘What, you want me to leave my newborn so that I can work 16 hours on your set? He’s only a month old, are you out of your mind?’ And the good thing is that half of the people you work with are all parents, and they get it.”

Zoe’s tired of the word “ethnic”: “I don’t know what it would be like to grow up in a house where you heard words like ‘black,’ ‘white,’ ‘ethnic.’ You know what I’m saying? Where everything is just a ‘cultural this’ and a ‘cultural that.’ My mother knew people by name, and that was it. It always freaks me out when I see people that don’t consider themselves ethnic just use the word ‘ethnic.’ It’s going ‘oh, because ethnic people…’ What are you trying to say? You mean people not like you? What are you, then? It just doesn’t, I don’t… f— off. f— you. Like, it’s 2014, America. We’re all ethnic here in America; let’s be f—ing real. None of us are aboriginal people, okay? Did you attend your history classes in third grade, fourth grade, fifth grade, you bigot? There’s a big elephant in the room, and it’s crowding my space now. And I’m done with it.”

[From Popwatch]

I need to take a nap after the last paragraph. Zoe broke me. She’s going to town on a subject she feels passionate about. I could certainly take her more seriously without all of the profanity. I curse all the time, but there’s a time and place for it. When Zoe’s trying to make a point (and she does have one) and wants to be taken seriously … yeah, it would help if she didn’t pepper her points with f-bombs. But I’m tired of arguing. Zoe tires me out.

Zoe Saldana

Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet & WENN

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

123 Responses to “Zoe Saldana: ‘We’re all ethnic in America. None of us are aboriginal people’”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Kaya says:

    Ahhhhh. I love her. Her interviews kick-ass. She’s not the most lucid person I know – sometimes she’s all over the place with the indignation – but she speaks the truth. I prefer her WAY over people with rehearsed, politically-correct speeches and a suspicious lack of sincerity.

    • RocketMerry says:

      Agreed, I still kinda like her. I appreciate her candour, at least.

    • Betty says:

      I like her more than I dislike her, if that makes sense. And I think she’s correct that everyone has an ethnicity, but Native Americans would be considered the aboriginal/indigenous people of the U.S. I also don’t think it’s problematic to grow up in a household where people were identified by race, if that was pertinent to the discussion. I don’t know if Zoe is advocating for color-blindness here or something else.

      • pookah says:

        Sounds like she’s reaming people who see *others* as “ethnic,” or different and not themselves. She makes a point. If you’re an American of Irish/German heritage and live in Ohio, what makes you LESS ethnic than an American of Puerto Rican heritage who lives in NYC?

  2. Someonestolemyname says:

    I like her. I think she’s gorgeous and she has a good point. America is a ethnic melting pot. Everyone is basically a mixture through one of their familial lines, no matter what a person appears to be.

    P.S. Is she American?

  3. Sarah says:

    Her husband pings my skeeze radar. Something about him seems off, but it might just be the ponytail bun.

  4. OriginalTessa says:

    There’s a point here, but she lost me somewhere in the anger and profanity. Not a good way to make a serious point about ethnicity and race. It reeks of Kristen Stewart. You have to choose your words.

    • Pip says:

      Really? Because honestly I find that way of thinking exhausting. She’s angry, she’s passionate and honestly she has a right to be, why should she have to censor that to make herself heard?

      • OriginalTessa says:

        She has the right to be, what? She just called people who differentiate people’s ethnicity bigots, and said that there’s no such thing as an aboriginal American. What does she want to be heard about exactly? What is her point? She didn’t make it. I’m sure she has one, but she did not make it. Did she ever consider that some people are proud of their culture and ethnicity? What is so wrong with being proud of where you come from? I don’t get that argument at all. I don’t get why you’re a bigot for noticing that not all people come from the same place and culture.

      • redvixen says:

        I’m so tired with that politically correct nonsense. I don’t advocate bigotry or racism, but everything now is a label, a stamp. People do get carried away, you basically have to choose your words like a robot. She is passionate and has a point, not running for office. If she wants to say the f word, god bless!!

      • Leen says:

        I think you can be proud of your cultural and heritage without resorting to calling yourself ‘ethnic’. I get her point, even tho she didn’t explain it very well.
        I have to say, I get a bit peeved when people describe me ‘ethnic’ because my skin is not white, and I’m middle eastern (I’m mixed). Despite the fact that my heritage being German.

      • Natalia says:

        because she has a vageen.

      • Natalia says:

        “and said that there’s no such thing as an aboriginal American.”

        Nope. She said that none of us are aboriginal American. Big difference.
        In short, the only ones who could call other people ethnic in america are native americans not white americans that, when all is said and done (history) are themselves foreigners here.

      • Gypsy says:

        The actual meaning of “aboriginal: is original or earliest known, native, or indigenous.

        So the use of the word is correct and the concept is correct and it shows that she has smarts.
        Look it up before attacking her use of the word, because her use is professorial.

      • andypandy says:

        @ Natalie who said “Nope. She said that none of us are aboriginal American. Big difference.”
        Either way Zoe is being dismissive and marginalizing Native Americans So Nope

      • Kaya says:


        She’s not talking to Native Americans, but those people who label others as ethnic, or identify themselves as ethnic because they don’t have white skin. That’s why she says, “We’re all ethnic here in America; let’s be f—ing real. None of us are aboriginal people, okay?” It’s not “dismissing” Native Americans.

        Don’t make a big deal out of nothing.

      • Natalia says:


        oh come on guys it’s not so hard to understand

        let me try making it simpler for you. She is not dismissing native americans, she’s actually saying that they’re the actual original americans SO the white guys that nowadays call themselves ‘true americans’ and label people like her (blacks, latinos, afro-americans, mexicans and so on) as ‘ethnic’ to reiterate they’re not original american ™ (=white) are idiots because none of us (white, black, mexican, hispanic, latinos, and so on) are native americans (who are not white anyway). Is it clear now?
        I doubt that it’s the native americans that call her ethnic.
        How is that dismissing native americans? hell, some could interpret it as her indirectly trowing a shade at the european people that invaded america and made it so that the people who were there first became a marginalized group and minority. They stole their land when they were themselves ‘immigrants’.

      • andypandy says:

        @ Kaya and Natalie
        A lot of people are bending over backward to interpret for the rest of us what Zoe may have meant . I chose to comment on what she actually said which is “We’re all ethnic here in America; let’s be f—ing real. None of us are aboriginal people, okay?”

        “Who is the We and the Us ” Here in America if not Americans of which Native Americans are a part ???
        Why would you assume that they are not a part of the We /she is not speaking to them because they aren’t important ? .I find it interesting that things that don’t affect the main or ones cultural group are easily dismissed as making a big deal over nothing (oh and spare me the rebuttal that you are 1/16 Navaho or whatever )

    • Chinoiserie says:

      I think profanity makes everything harder to read and take the message seriously so you should not use it when you are trying to make a point. It just irritating if used too much, you can use other strong words that are not profanity to make your point.

      • Sofia says:

        It is very common to loose it a little when talking about something you’re passion about, but the thing is, if you really want people to listen and reflect on something that is in your opinion wrong, you can’t attack them because they will get defensive. But if you don’t care about changing their views or making them reflect at all and just want to vent, then say whatever you want but don’t expect sympathy. But to be fair, I don’t think most people even get that.

    • INeedANap says:

      I’ve always found it a bit presumptuous to ask people not to feel frustration over the bad stuff in their life. Her anger is part of the discussion, and should be just as informative as her words.

  5. GingerCrunch says:

    I’m so relieved no one’s asking me my opinion to be printed for the whoooooole wide world to read. Thank you Baby Jesus.

    • mimif says:

      Yeah I frequently am so thankful that I don’t have a job where my thoughts/words/opinions are broadcast for the public to dissect. I couldn’t handle it at all.

    • I Choose Me says:

      Yep. I couldn’t be a celebrity. I mean some of them say some dumb shi*t and they deserve to get called on it. But I have a problem with the attitude that celebs shouldn’t voice their opinion at all. Me, I get what Zoe’s saying f-bombs and all. I don’t consider myself a fan or hers but I like what she has to say in this interview.

  6. Maya says:

    Correct me if I am wrong but I have always thought that it’s only the original inhabitants in Australia who are called aboriginal.

    • Lex says:

      Nah aboriginal just means indigenous. It can refer to any first inhabitants of a country. In Aus they’re often called ‘indigenous Australians’. And they don’t call themselves that anyway; they’d usually use their tribe name. In my area they are the Eora and the Darung people.

      • Lucrezia says:

        Just to clarify: it depends on the capital letter. The original occupants of any land are aboriginal; the Aboriginal people are the original occupants of Australia. (Same as “native American” just means “born in America” while a “Native American” would belong to a specific tribe.)

    • Hautie says:

      I am wondering how Native American’s/American Indian’s will feel about this comment.

      That Zoe has made it clear that they are not native of this land of ours. I bet they will be surprised by this bit of information.

      • Jen2 says:

        Thank you. And all the swearing seemed a bit over the top.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Yes, I was surprised by that news as well. I sort of thought that why they were called “Native” Americans. Silly me.

      • notleo says:

        I think it’s interesting that Zoe states there are not any aboriginal in this country when I’m right here. And even more interesting how she mentions that people who must have missed their history classes in 3rd-5th grade. Oh, you mean the classes where they taught us that Columbus discovered America? Classic idiot.

      • ol cranky says:


      • Natalia says:

        the opposite.
        I took it as her saying that white americans should get real about their presumption that they’re the only true americans when, actually, only native americans should be considered the default americans since white americans also came from another ethnicity (europe) and they are no different from latinos and afro-american people.

      • The Other Katherine says:

        Yup, this irritated me too. I think Natalia probably gives the correct interpretation of what Zoe *meant*, but unfortunately that’s not what Zoe *said*. I’m sure my Native American great-grandmother would have been quite surprised to hear her ancestors were, according to Ms. Saldana, not indigenous to North America.

      • Jag says:

        Thank you! I intentionally didn’t click on this article due to the title because I knew that I was going to get angry that she’s totally dismissing an entire race of people. I guess she didn’t have history lessons which told her that there were people living here before Columbus got here; they tried to exterminate every one, Zoe – to the tune of 100 million people murdered – but not all of us are gone!

    • Stef Leppard says:

      If it’s capitalized — Aboriginal — then it refers to the native people of Australia. Lowercase it’s just a generic term.

      • red_jane says:

        Yes I’m interested to hear what native Americans think of what she said as well?

        In my part of Australia, the NT where a large proportion of our population is indigenous Australians, we are actually trying to phase out the word “Aboriginal” and using indigenous instead. My husband is indigenous Australian and he finds aboriginal to be a really sensitive word for him. But I’ve heard down south that people aren’t so fond of “indigenous” .

        It’s very tough because it encompasses so many different language groups, clans etc. And stirs a lot of emotions. I believe they were trying to use “indigenous” to cover Torres strait islanders as well. Anyway sorry it’s a bit off topic but I find it very interesting.

      • Lucrezia says:

        I was taught that “Indigenous Australians” is used when you want to include Torres Strait Islanders. And that saying “Indigenous Australians” can be a faux pas if you use it when you actually meant to refer to just the one group. (Like saying “Oh, I love Asian culture” instead of specifying you meant Japanese, or Chinese, or whatever. Sounds like you can’t tell one culture from another.)

        I’m in Perth, which is definitely south of the NT. But when I think about it, the person who told us this (it was part of my psych classes – we had a series of seminars on indigenous issues & protocols), was actually TS Islander, so he probably has his own set of issues about being lumped in with the Aboriginals.

      • Miska says:

        Indigenous people in Canada are often referred to as Aboriginal (including in our Constitution). So the capitalised form is not limited to Australia.

      • Lex says:

        @lucrezia the issue is no groups are just the same anyway. The tribes have their separate traditions and cultures so referring to them all as anything isnt really accurate. Unless you mean solely skin colour? But that of course varies too.

  7. Ana says:

    She needs to educate herself more about what ethnicity is truly about, I myself I am just studying it and starting to really grasp this concept, but I can say already that she is approaching it from the wrong angle.

    • Natalia says:

      care to explain us?

      • Ana says:

        I wish I could but like I said I am just learning. So although I can grasp that she is somehow wrong about it, if I tried to explain it my teacher would probably kill me for how idiotically I would do. I recommend reading on notions of “race” and the view of their non-existence and going from there. 🙂

      • Diana says:

        I love this! You don’t fully grasp it well enough to explain but you’re sure she understands it less than you do. I can’t even say I’m surprised, the minute people start studying a subject they automatically think they know it all.

        By the way, she is not objecting to the idea of ethnicity but to the term “ethnic” and it’s use in American society. It’s has become synonymous with “Other.” Not sure if you live in the U.S. but it’s a fairly commonplace for people, even those that would themselves be considered “ethnic,” to use the word when referring to anything or anyone outside of White America. Like saying you want “ethnic” food and buying Indian or Ethiopian cuisine or finding a chemical hair relaxer for black women in the “ethnic” aisle at a Walmart or CVS.

        Worst yet is when (not going lie, mainly White people) “compliment” you on your looks by saying you’re so “ethnic and exotic.” It’s insulting, it’s like saying “you’re so beautiful *even* though you’re not white.” I can’t even tell you how many of my East Asian friends get hit on by White guys who think calling them an exotic beauty is a come-on.

        This is just as true for many Black women who have non-negroid features like long silky hair or light colored eyes. Its almost as if people are reluctant to compliment them as beautiful black women but feel the need to other them further by marking them as simply ethnic or exotic. I’ve heard many people refer to Zoe herself in that manner. Many times people use it in a quaintly condensing manner. At a restaurant once I had a colleague, an educated woman, say earnestly, “Oh my god that’s so cool, we eat it with our hands, that’s so ethnic.” That’s is the use case for the word that she is raging against. She makes a very valid (if a little disjointed) point.

      • Diana says:

        Sorry for all the mistakes I tapped that out on my mobile and was a bit hasty in my reply. Very touchy subject.

  8. InvaderTak says:

    Oh I get it now; we only need to have a serious discussion about race and bigotry when it applies to her. Gotcha. STFU Zoe. It boggles the mind. Seriously? No one is aboriginal to America?

  9. TTMuch says:

    Story about the word aboriginal: in Canada, it used to be what First Nations peoples were called (after native, before FN, waaaaay after Indian). I was at a big concert festival and Susan Aglukar (sp??) was playing, and at one point she stopped and said ” this is for all the aboriginal people!” And like 4 people cheered. She sighed and said “native. Do you know any native people?” And everybody cheered woo hoo! And she just looked very disappointed in all of us

    • maddelina says:

      And there’s the chief of five reserves who said “if you’re younger than two hundred years old you’re not First Nations”.

      • Rosalee says:

        Hi there..just popped in to toss in my opinion – In Canada we are still referred to as Aboriginal – as stated in the Canadian Constitution “Aboriginal peoples” is a collective name for the original peoples of North America and their descendants. I am Treaty or First Nations, Anishinnabe but never Indian. Some FN don’t mind being called Indian, but I do. I also become extremely passionate when actors are asked their opinion on the names of certain sport franchises – because they don’t get it – will never get it – so to respond to the question yes, Zoe there are Aboriginal people out there and I’m one of them

  10. Birdie says:

    What I always take away from her is that she doesn’t want to be called ‘black’, just like Raven Symone doesn’t want to be called gay or african-american.

    • V4Real says:

      Birdie Zoe used to claim that she was Black, she also claimed Hispanic and then Black Hispanic. I used to think that during the early part of her career she would say she’s Black to get the Black female roles that called for a Black, non Hispanic. Roles such as Drumline, Haven, Guess Who, Crossroad, Blackout and Death at a Funeral. Then later she definitely claimed her Blackness when trying to convince the public she was right for the portrayal of Nina Simone. Now she seems to be denouncing all things ethnic. Now I think the girl is just confused or doesn’t know when to just STFU. The more she talks the bitter and dumber she sounds.

      BTW Zoe, try saying none of us are pure Native Americans since they were a pure race living in the new world before the Anglo-Saxons arrived.

      • Natalia says:

        LOL the one confused here is you. Do you understand that she is BOTH black and latina and had always claimed both? do you understand that latina is NOT a race but just the culture where her family originated?
        Why shouldn’t she claim her latin heritage? It’s who she is, just like Kerry Washington claims to be american! It doesn’t mean she denies being black.

      • V4Real says:

        You seem to be confused as well. Where did I say Latina was a race, don’t put your words in my mouth. Zoe has said at times she’s just Black and there have been times when she has said I’m Latina. So no, she has not always claimed both

        Some Hispanics perfer to tie their ethnicity in with a specific race, some will say they are Black with their ethnicity being Hispanic, some even claim White, while there are others who will not necessarily identify themselves as any particular race and simply say ther are Hispanic. Michelle Rodriguez for example ethnicity is similar to Zoe’s, she’s Puerto Rican and Domican but she doesn’t identify herself as Black. It’s her choice.

      • Alarmjaguar says:

        Being Native American, however, isn’t a racial status, it is a political status (often linked to blood quantum, but not completely determined by it). So being ‘pure blooded’ doesn’t matter b/c it is a political status. And, the whole idea of blood quantum was a way to ensure that Native people would disappear as political people b/c it would be impossible to keep ‘pure blood’ over time.

        Zoe’s wrong — there are indigenous people in North America, but they are often overlooked, ignored and marginalized. She may not have meant to do so, but she’s perpetuating the idea that they don’t exist. Ideally, she’d educate her self, apologize and rephrase her statement, which in reference to immigrant groups (everyone but indigenous people) is correct.

      • Diana says:

        “Michelle Rodriguez for example ethnicity is similar to Zoe’s, she’s Puerto Rican and Domican but she doesn’t identify herself as Black. It’s her choice.”

        Sorry but they really aren’t the same. If you have the time trace back their lineage as far as you can on the internet. You can get pretty far if you have the time and access to the right resources. Just because because they are from the same place means squat when it comes to defining their identity. Seriously, just spend a few hours in a public plaza in the Dominican Republic and do a random survey of who considers themselves Black and who doesn’t. If you don’t notice a very clear trend, then you don’t understand your own data. To claim they are the same but one simply claims it where the other doesn’t is very ignorant.

        Race in south America, especially in Dominican Republic, is very much a white washed issue. It’s part of the history and has been the driving force behind a lot of their conflicts with Haiti.

        I don’t particularly like Zoe even though I haven’t found a reason to dislike her. However I will rep her on this: she has never once denied either of her heritages. She has claimed both separately and jointly over the years, but saying she is black in one interview does not automatically preclude her from claiming to be Latina in another interview. The two are not mutually exclusive. It’s a shame people don’t understand this.

    • Dena says:

      @Birdie – that has always been my perception 2

  11. tila says:

    She carries her pregnancy well. Especially in comparison to Mila kunis who seemed to just give up and not wash her hair.

    • Yup, Me says:

      I noticed that about Mila, too, while everyone kept saying how cute she looked. I kept wanting to ask why she looked like she’d been running her head back and forth on a pillow before leaving the house.

      But I’m not one to gossip, so you didn’t hear that from me.

  12. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    I’m not sure I understand her point about describing people by anything other than their name. By saying “black, white, ethnic.” I don’t refer to people as “ethnic” because that’s so vague, but if I’m describing someone, say in store, I’m trying to find the person who waited on me before, I might say he was about 30, white, with brown hair. Why is that wrong? People have physical characteristics, and skin color is one of them. Am I missing her point?

    And her comment about there being no aboriginal people in America was the dumbest thing I’ve heard in a long time, Miss didn’t you attend any history classes.

    • FingerBinger says:

      There’s nothing wrong with those terms. I’ve always gotten the impression that Zoe has issues with being labeled “black” since she’s also a Latina. She’s saying that white people shouldn’t use the term ethnic. That’s what I get from her comment. Another thing, Native Americans are from parts of Asia. Technically she is correct about everybody being from somewhere else.

      • Natalia says:

        “I’ve always gotten the impression that Zoe has issues with being labeled “black” since she’s also a Latina.”

        where you got this impression?
        She had always claimed to be a black latina girl.
        It’s just that some americans apparently don’t understand that afro-latin people exist in the same way afro-american do and just like the latter can talk about being american without people calling them ‘self haters’ taking it as them denying their race, afro-latinos can do the same. Latino is her culture/family, NOT a race.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Ok, I don’t use the term “ethnic” anyway, so no problem.

        As for Native Americans, can we please just let them alone? I think they have a right to claim they were the original people from this country. Though I get it, everybody’s from somewhere else. But I just feel like so much has been taken away from them, now we’re going to say they aren’t really from here, too? And I know my argument doesn’t make any sense, I know. Just a gut reaction.

      • FingerBinger says:

        @GNAT Native Americans were the first people here so they can claim they were the original people. You’ll get no argument from me.

        @Natalia There are Black Latinos that don’t want to be called black. They distance themselves from that term ,particularly the Latinos who are mixed. It’s also possible that they just want to distinguish themselves from African/Black Americans. And of course Americans understand you can be both black and Latino.

  13. GeeMoney says:

    It’s kind of hard not be slightly angry and frustrated when you are a minority in this country when it comes to topics like ethnicity, racism, etc. It’s so easy for people who aren’t in the minority to say “I don’t see why she’s so angry” or “I wish that she wouldn’t use curse words” when it comes to this subject… if anything, her use of them reflects my anger and frustration about it as well (you really don’t want to catch me on a day when I’m going off about something like this…)!

    Minorities deal with a lot of crap that white people don’t in this world… and perhaps she had been talking about the subject for a while in the interview, and the interviewer published the last of what she said. You know interviewers do that, right? Publish sound bites that will sell magazines… duh.

    Anyways… I like Zoe, and I wish her well with her husband and babies and career.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      I can totally understand the frustration that must surely come with being a minority in this country. And agree with everything you said about the crap they have to take – completely. I just don’t understand the point she’s trying to make. Do you? She seems to be saying we shouldn’t notice if people are one race or another, or describe them that way. I would appreciate it if you could explain what she wants, because I don’t understand. I’m being serious, not snarky.

      • OhDear says:

        My understanding of what she’s saying is that she’s being tired of being “othered” because of her race and is saying that (white?) people in the US should treat non-whites as individuals equal to them, not solely as members of their racial or ethnic group. My guess is that she’s saying that no one in the US is originally an American, so stop saying that “ethnic” people – as if they’re lesser than you – are the problem.

        (also what GeeMoney said)

      • GeeMoney says:

        From what I’m reading… it sounds like she’s saying that she gets upset when certain people (I’m guessing white people) use the word “ethnic” to lump together a bunch of minorities being a certain way or doing something that is perceived in white America in a condescending manner. Like (for example), if a black woman had on some huge earrings and someone asked her about them, that person, if they didn’t like them in some way, may perhaps refer to her earrings as being “ethnic” and not something that they would wear b/c it’s not part of “their culture”. That’s the impression I get from what she’s saying.

        I’m not sure if my example is the best, but when people call something I’ve done “ethnic”, it comes off as a slight. I just end up thinking to myself “What’s wrong with what I like? Or what I’m wearing? Or, what’s wrong with me wanting to do something different than everyone else? And why is it bad that my culture does it but yours doesn’t???”

        But I think the bigger thing that she’s saying is that no one in the US (except the Native Americans) are indigenous to this country, we are all “ethnic” technically, so why use a word like that? And why use it in a condescending way? What’s so wrong with being different?

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Ok, that makes more sense to me. Thank you. I have definitely heard people use the word “ethnic” in a way that’s condescending. I don’t think it’s the word itself, but the way it’s used. I have to say, though, you made her point much better than she did.

      • V4Real says:

        @Good names. I agree with you that it depends on the way in which the word is used. Some minorities use the word ethnic as well, not just White people. There are a lot of people that refer to Jewish people as ethnic but their phenotype is White. Some minorities are offended by it while others are not. It’s just hard to sympathize with Zoe who uses her ethnicity to her benefit to land certain roles but then turns around and say she hates being called ethnic. If this was coming from, let’s say Viola Davis I would believe it was genuine

      • GeeMoney says:

        No minority actor uses their “ethnicity” to get certain roles… if anything, being a minority prevents you from getting certain roles in Hollywood… not sure what you meant by saying that…???

        @world at large
        She is Black AND Hispanic (not just one or the other). People for some reason can’t wrap their heads around that. You know, it’s possible to have heritage from MULTIPLE ethnic groups and be more than just ONE thing. Just b/c you look one way doesn’t mean you don’t have ties to other ethnic groups.

        White people can be Irish mixed with English, Dutch, German, etc, and it’s ok to claim all of those things, right? So why can’t a Black person be mixed with Hispanic/Spanish roots and claim both ethnicities as well???

      • V4Real says:

        @-Gee Money, no minority person uses their ethnicity to get roles. And you know this how? Zoe was in Guess who, Drumline, Haven, Crossroads, Blackout and Death at a Funeral. Her characters were just Black, not Black Hispanic. She played straight up Black characters. So tell me how her ethnicity didn’t help her land those roles. She’s a darker skin Latina who can play a Black, non Hispanic girl from Mississippi. That’s why some people had issues with her. If those roles called for a Black girl why couldn’t it have gone to someone like Tika Sumpter, Sanaa Lathan or Gabrielle Union. One of the issues with her Nina Simone character is that a Black Latina is playing the part and not a Black, non Hispanic. Megan Goode ethnicity includes Puerto Rican but can you imagine the s-it storm she would have been caught in if she had played the role of Selena.

        And no I do not have a problem with people playing various backgrounds, afterall it is acting. Loved AJ in A Mighty Heart. I’m just siding with what some people have said about Zoe. Oh and yes you’re right if you are thinking I don’t like her because I don’t.

      • Ennie says:

        Some of you don’t know how many times the Latinos (or other ethnicities/nationalities) have had to endure white (or other) actors taking parts straight up Latin American.

        there are very few times that a Latin american actor has “crossed over” and has been accepted for a different role, let alone that the Latin American roles are usually the maid, the gardener, the gangster, other stereotypes, and so on.

        Of course more juicy roles and more work come from being accepted, I do not see many script writers creating roles specifically for Black Dominicans.
        She has had to fight for it.

      • Diana says:

        @V4Real, Zoe was in Guess who, Drumline, Haven, Crossroads, Blackout and Death at a Funeral. Her characters were just Black, not Black Hispanic. She played straight up Black characters. So tell me how her ethnicity didn’t help her land those roles.

        This is so unreal I don’t even know how to begin to respond. Her ethnicity *helped* her get roles as much as the ethnicity of any White -American actor helped any them land white roles. The roles you listed specifically were written for Black women. Her ethnicity had nothing to do with her landing those roles though her race certainly wasn’t a hindrance as it would be for any other role for which she auditioned. You’re playing into game of calling her out for not being black enough. I think everyone can tell you don’t you don’t like her and that is obviously coloring your view of her. I very much doubt she could say anything right by you. There is no authentic black experience, and I think it’s funny that people want to shame her for owning all sides of her identity.

        If you want to rag on her for playing Nina when she’s just White Hollywood’s *safe* choice for a Black actor then go ahead. The problem has never been about a Latina playing the part, as you so mistakenly wrote, but about the fact that she had to use prosthesis and makeup just to fill the role. I can guarantee you if someone like Buika, who is also a Black Latina had gotten the role there would be less rigmarole. Why? Because she has the same aesthetic feature as Nina: dark skin, kinky hair, wide nose…etc. Just like Dave Chappelle used to joke that Wayne Brady is a safe Black actor for White people to love the same is true here. Halle Berry has filled that role for many years and so has Beyonce and more recently Riri. There’s a problem there.

    • sarah says:


      I completely agree with you. It’s easy to say “get over it” or “we are too PC now” when you are white & get away with murder. But for the rest of us who deal with casual racism every single day it’s just too much sometimes. It really ruins your day & I refuse to just “get over it”.

  14. Jaded says:

    So according to Zoe we now can’t use the word “ethnic”? Has it, in her angry world, become some sort of racially derogatory epithet? One can’t get away from one’s ethnicity and it’s just not an insulting term. I have no idea what point she’s trying to make, you’d think impending motherhood would have softened the giant chip on her shoulder…apparently not.

    • OhDear says:

      My reading is that she’s saying that (I’m assuming white) people shouldn’t be pointing to non-white people as an “other” since in the US, everyone/everyone’s family immigrated (or was forced to come) at some point (save Native Americans).

    • Dolce crema says:

      Ethnic is a slang term that’s become used for “of an ethnicity that’s not white/like us.” No one should use this term, because it’s lumping “other” people all together which is just silly, and what could the point of that be? We are all ethnic because we all have our own ethnicity. If you need to point out that the person you’re referring to doesn’t speak English as his first language, you can just say that, or say, “he might be from the Middle East/Africa/Europe” or “he’s black/Asian” if you want to talk about new immigrants or immigrants in general use those words.

    • Sisi says:

      I think she’s trying to say that everyone in the United States, except the indigenous, is ethic or exotic/foreign to the country, so it’s wrong that the word is used to describe certain groups specifically. One person is not more exotic than the other if they are both basically x-generation immigrants, yet people (with nonwhite skin) are labeled as ethnic more often. Or if a woman with afro textured hair doesn’t relax the jebeebus out of her locks that makes her more ethnic than otherwise.
      What does ethnic really mean in a country like the USA with such a various looking population? I’m struggling to define it to be honest.

  15. feebee says:

    Someone had to be the aboriginals of America so…. I’m thinking she could have chosen her words better there.

    Ethnic…. of course it’s white code for not like ours. Has she not seen any fashion magazine? Read any article on a non-white model (her ethnic looks are soooooo exotic!)? What do you want for dinner tonight? Ooooh, let’s go “ethnic” (checks review for new Ethiopian restaurant).

    • Lucrezia says:

      Is this an American-specific use of the word “ethnic”?

      Because here in Oz, I’ve never heard it used that way. I totally get what you’re saying, but if someone asked me what my ethnicity was, I’d automatically say “Anglo-Celtic” (and wonder why the pale skin, freckles and auburn hair hadn’t given it away!). To me, it’s not code for non-white/minority/exotic – it actually took me a while to figure out what Zoe was talking about. (Other Aussies can feel free to contradict me, it’s possible it’s used that way here and I’ve just have been oblivious.)

    • Natalia says:

      “Ethnic…. of course it’s white code for not like ours. Has she not seen…. ”

      that is her point dude and why she thinks white people using is as full of s**t. and she’s right.

    • The Other Katherine says:

      Lucrezia, I think you’re right that this is more an American usage. I don’t have experience of Australia, but I don’t hear “ethnic” used so much in the UK to mean “non-Northern European.” In the U.S., “ethnic” gets used by some (especially older) groups of white people to describe non-white people (especially if they’re not native English speakers) or white people who are from ethnicities that immigrated to the U.S. relatively recently (e.g., Armenians). Among certain types of WASP-y Northeasterners, you will hear people of Italian or Polish heritage referred to as “ethnic,” even when their ancestors were in the U.S. for the last century. It’s weird.

    • Kitten says:

      Do people really say “ethnic food” though?
      Eh, maybe in white suburbia.

      If my friends and I want Indian food or Ethiopian food, we would never say “ethnic” to describe it.
      In fact, I haven’t heard the term “ethnic” used since the 80s, when saying “oriental” was still ok*.

      *in white suburbia

      • V4Real says:

        I’m a Black woman living in NY with friends of different races and ethnicities and I can tell you I have not heard anyone say they want ethnic food. What you hear are people saying I want Chinese, Mexican or Japanese food and so on. Now some folks do say I want Sushi as oppose to saying Japanese and some Black people will occasionally say soul food, hence the soul food restaurants in NY. They say let’s go to a Soul Food restaurant, not a Black resturant.

      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        Yes thank you. Maybe it’s a city versus suburbia thing? I don’t know but I never hear that word..

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        I live in suburbia, and nobody says “I want ethnic food.” Where would you go for that – the ethnic restaurant?

      • Brionne says:

        Meanwhile the hair care products aisle in many stores is labeled Ethnic Hair care. This is happening less so but still you never find Dark n Lovely products mixed in with Herbal Essences. I’m not sure its good or bad. I’m just commenting on the separation. I do like being able to go right to what I need but I usually go to both aisles because I use a variety of shampoos and conditioners.

    • Kit says:

      The United States has no aboriginal people. The ancestors of Native Americans weren’t even the first to settle here; People related to the Aboriginal people of Australia settled here, but eventually died out. So, Zoe is factually correct.

  16. Judy says:

    Heh. Isn’t she right though? If memory serves the people we call native Americans came over the Bering strait when it was a land bridge. The supposition is that they were nomadic and hunted here. Over the course if years they populated North and South America. Yes it was 10,000 years ago, but they traveled here. Either way ALL our ancestors travelled to where they are now, be it recent or long ago. Her ire seems to be that white people act as though they are not immigrants and use the word. “Ethnic” to describe others as foreigners. We don’t use the term. “Ethnic” to describe Northern European immigrants to this country, do we? Don’t call me ethnic as a way of pretending I don’t belong here and you do. We all came here at some point and we all belong.

    • I Choose Me says:

      This was my take away as well.

    • Rosalee says:

      Any way you paint it, my family was here first. It drives me nuts when someone brings up the Bering Strait, it’s used as an excuse, not an argument. It’s not their land because like us they were from some where else, so we’ll just round them up and put them on useless land, steal their children, murder their women. Yada, yada, yada.

      Yes, we were here first, we settled the land, we numbered in the millions – We are fewer, we are Idle No More still dancing. Yes, we know we are treated like crap, our lives as wards of the government is a daily reminder of what we are..so take your Bering Strait and stick where the sun don’t shine honey.

  17. serena says:

    She’s right, imo. I think she meant something like ‘most of us are not natives/aboriginal, do don’t call others ethnic’ etc.

  18. INeedANap says:

    I don’t know why everyone is ragging on her for being angry. What is an intellectual, hypothetical discussion for some is the very stuff of her life, of course she is going to be upset.

    It just seems very…delicate to be so put off by what she said.

    I think what she is trying to say is that she doesn’t want her race to be a point of discussion all the time, like she wants to be “Actress Zoe Saldana” not “Black Actress Zoe Saldana” or “Latina Actress Zoe Saldana”. And really, the word “ethnic” as a catch-all for “not-white” is overused,

  19. Fiona says:

    Actual content of this interview aside, can we stop clutching our pearls whenever a woman says the F word? It’s exhausting.

    • Natalia says:

      yeah, women must be sweet innocent ladies that never say dirty words that should only be uttered by macho men. amirite?

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      I say the f word, and I’m not offended by it or pearl clutching. But I think it can detract from your point if you rely on swearing too much rather than articulating what you mean. And that goes for men as well as women.

      • Kitten says:

        Especially in text format. I think if I was just hanging out with Zoe and listening to her talk, I’d barely notice the f-bombs.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Right. It “sounds” worse written down. Angrier.

  20. Natalia says:

    if you’re not afro-latina like her you can’t understand what it means having people question you all the time ‘what you are what you are’. She got a point. The way white americans use the word ‘ethnic’ for anything that is not white is pretentious. We all come from some ethnicity (ethnicity =/= race btw) the way the word ethnic is used nowadays is just another way to reiterate white as the default and the rest is a minority that needs labels.

    • Brionne says:

      Nevertheless it was zoey who reminded readers in EVERY interview that she is Latina, and Black and whatever else. We did not go searching for this information. She first came to my attention in several movies with all black casts. She looks black and she has a Hispanic name. So? I am black with a French surname. My honeybun is black with an African surname. Beyonce and her mom have an ethnicity. Lupita Ny’ongo has an ethnicity. Idris Elba has an ethnicity. Chewetel Edgiofor has an ethnicity. President Obama has an ethnicity. Rihanna has an ethnicity. Aside from being Black!

      The Kennedy family has an ethnicity. Jlo has an ethnicity. Joan &Melissa Rivers have an ethnicity. Arnold Schwarzenegger has an ethnicity. Sylvester Stallone and Madonna have an ethnicity aside from being White!

      It’s fine that Zoey wants to be thought of only as an American and does not wish to acknowledge her ethnicity, except when it suits her. She should stick to eliminating her own ethnicity and not attempt to enforce her vision on everyone else.

      • Diana says:

        “Beyonce and her mom have an ethnicity. Lupita Ny’ongo has an ethnicity. Idris Elba has an ethnicity. Chewetel Edgiofor has an ethnicity. President Obama has an ethnicity. Rihanna has an ethnicity. Aside from being Black!

        The Kennedy family has an ethnicity. Jlo has an ethnicity. Joan &Melissa Rivers have an ethnicity. Arnold Schwarzenegger has an ethnicity. Sylvester Stallone and Madonna have an ethnicity aside from being White!”

        Yeah…that’s kind of her point. I don’t recall her ever saying she didn’t want to be referred to as Black or Latina. She said don’t call me “ethnic.” There is a heavy connotation to the word in the U.S. It is condescending and the colloquial use for it is wide spread. Only recently did the shops I frequent start replacing “ethnic aisles” with “international aisles.” I’m as mixed as they come and I will be the first to rise and claim all aspects of my identity while still saying “don’t call me ethnic, don’t call me exotic.” There is something very objectifying and othering in that word.

      • SAKS says:

        And funnily Beyoncé tries to appear whiter than she actually is.

        I dont see Zoe has a problem in being called Latina or Black, just not “ethnic” in the slang meaning of the word.

  21. Bread and Circuses says:

    I dislike her saying that none of us are aboriginals, because HEY, ABORIGINALS DO STILL EXIST, Y’KNOW. Grrrr…

    Other than that, I think she’s completely justified in rebelling against a particularly stupid label being applied to her.

    • Dolce crema says:

      Well aboriginals are also “ethnic;” they have ethnicities like 100% of the people on earth. You could say that aboriginal people of USA or wherever have the right to refer to everyone else as “foreign” but let’s ditch “ethnic .” seems like im the only one caught up on semantics , thanks to a first year professors. He also taught that race isn’t a scientific thing, no one ever talks about that either

      • Gypsy says:

        Actually in real life there is no such thing as different human race (Asians/Blacks/whites) these are not races, they are ethnicities, there is only ONE human race on this planet, but there are a few different ethnic background.
        There was a bastardization of science by a certain German anthropologist that cause that huge misconception of different races, but take up a science book and you will see that there is but one race of people on this spinning blue planet.

  22. sarah says:

    I agree with her, LOL. I hear white people always saying are you a “real Canadian” or “ethnics/immigrants are everywhere now”. And I just wanna smack them in the head and say, no you’re white, ignorant butt stole the land from the Natives, who are THE REAL CANADIANS. I am just done with racist bigots.

  23. Lin says:

    Wow, some people have reading comprehension issues here… Sad

    • I Choose Me says:

      I think some people’s dislike of her are getting in the way but others on here are genuinely trying to understand what she said but are having difficulty parsing her words. I got what she said and agree but she wasn’t very articulate in expressing her view in the last paragraph. But I can relate to that as well. Sometimes when I’m passionate about a subject the words don’t always come out how I would like.

      • Kitten says:

        I appreciated what she had to say here. I’m still surprised that apparently people still use the term “ethnic”.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      I think part of it is that some people, like me, don’t know much about her, so context was missing for me. And, I’m sorry, but that last paragraph wasn’t the most articulate explanation of her viewpoint. I get it now that people have explained that she has had an ongoing issue with people trying to pin her down about her “labels,” but I didn’t know that going in, and she wasn’t very clear about anything except that she’s annoyed.

  24. Josefa says:

    Eh I swear like a truck driver, especially when I’m angry. And of course this subject makes her angry. I get her point and totally agree with her.

  25. Gypsy says:

    I just want to clear this up, Zoe used the word “aboriginal” correctly, it is how your college professor would speak about the earliest known fully formed humanoids of an area/land/country..

    The actual meaning of “aboriginal: is original or earliest known, native, or indigenous.
    So the use of the word is correct and the concept is correct and it shows that she has smarts.
    Look it up before attacking her use of the word, because her use is professorial.

    • andypandy says:

      If she had smarts she would know that aboriginal = the “earliest known” people which here is the Native Americans
      Her “None of Us are aboriginal Americans” is really quite insensitive obtuse and typical Zoe (so try hard deep till she’s silly )
      And Yes as someone else pointed out the native Americans migrated to the USA some thousands of years ago but they are still the “earliest known “

      • Kit says:

        Native Americans weren’t here first. The group that WAS here first died out before Native Americans settled here.

  26. Kitten says:

    It looks like her man is packing on the pregnancy sympathy weight

  27. Alarmjaguar says:

    Oh, Zoe, except for, you know, indigenous people!

  28. BlueeJay says:

    Anyone’s ethnicity should be a amazing thing to them. My ethnicity is Russian/German. I am proud of that. Shouldn’t everyone be proud of where they came from? We have ethic foods, clothes, etc. People celebrate that. Where I live people bring their ethnic foods for work lunches and everyone raves over the different foods. We have even had an ethnic clothing day at work. A little hard for some of us. What I say is that you can’t have it both ways. If you want your ethnic foods, clothes, cultures then stop complaining. Live your life like you are proud of your heritage and your people. This woman is obviously ashamed of her heritage and ethnicity has a big chip on her shoulder. I say grow up.

  29. Laura says:

    I understood her comments to mean that people other than Native Americans are not originally from the USA, so they are as ‘ethnic’ as the Black (or Asian, etc) people that they label as such (I’m guessing she’s talking mainly about White people). I don’t think she was denying that Indigenous Americans existed before Europeans came to the continent.

    • Natalia says:

      we have a winner!!!!

      are people dense or what? I can’t believe some people in this page who call her ignorant when they are the ones ignorant who can’t even comprehend what a person is actually saying.

  30. Métis lady says:

    I have no more neche (friend in Cree) brothers and sisters in America anymore? Where have they gone?
    Oh Zoe you must have had a nightmare, go back to sleep we are still here. By the way there are Aboriginal (indigenous) people all over the world, even in some of the locations you film…no worries I’m sure they are still there too

  31. wolfpup says:

    Ethnicity is a term that is used in the US census. People who share racial, religious, linguistic and regional heritage come from identifying with a tribe or clan. For a list of ethnicity in the Us:


    Zoe should at least read Wiki before making comments that are simply wrong. She needs to at least understand what she is saying…