Zoe Saldana: My three kids ‘are going to grow up to be really pretty nerds’

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.”

[From InStyle]

“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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28 Responses to “Zoe Saldana: My three kids ‘are going to grow up to be really pretty nerds’”

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  1. girl_ninja says:

    Good for Zoe and her success. I don’t begrudge her anything. I don’t particularly like her either. Being a Hispanic woman who can play black women she seems to wear her when she wants. Or joins black women in the struggle if and when she wants. The Nina Simone role shows this and her tantrum towards a writer regarding Haiti shows this too. Anyway her kids are cute.

    • Levans says:

      Let’s be intersectional. If I recall correctly she identifies as Afro-Latina.

    • ReginaGeorge says:

      She is Afro Latina and has stated as much since as far back as I can recall, which was back in the very early aughts. She is a Black woman of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent. You know you can be both, right?

      • girl_ninja says:

        In 2021 Zoe was dragged for her reaction to a writer and their article about Dominican Republic Independence Day. She had issue with the author’s correct take on the role Haiti played in the liberation of D.R. and how Dominicans anti-blackness. The writer (also Dominican) said that she received death threats and harassment from Zoe’s fans.

        Zoe struggles with anti-blackness even as a Afro-Latina and I think she should be held accountable for it.

      • Honey says:

        @Girl_Ninja – I too think she struggles internally with blackness, anti-blackness & colorism. After all, it is a part of the culture. Perhaps I’m not giving her enough credit, tho, but I do think she struggles with it. Fairly/unfairly, it has shaped how I feel about her as an actress.

        As a matter of fact, when she married her husband I figured it was to “lighten the race” and even reading her comments here about her kids being pretty—before I even saw the photo—my thoughts were that the kids must have fair complexions if she’s saying that. 🤷🏽‍♀️

      • jammy_nam says:

        @girl_ninja, sorry but boiling down Dominican and Haitian tensions to anti-blackness is an overly simplistic take. Haiti liberated the island from European powers but then decided to take over the then independent ethno-Spanish side of the island (Dominicans), killing many in the process and stamping out any semblance of European culture, whether or not that response was justified.
        There were freed black and mixed raced Dominicans then. And while the brutality of the colonists can’t be understated, free Dominicans didn’t want unification, much less were going to just turn over and let themselves get taken over. Half of the Dominican nation back then were slaughtered. Just as the Haitians didn’t want French control, Dominicans didn’t want Spanish or Haitian control. Independence was the whole idea and so they fought for it.

      • Fabiola says:

        She’s a black woman whether she was born in the USA or Latin America. Why is it only if you are ADOS can you claim black? Also, just because she has Latin American roots that doesn’t mean she struggles with being black. People are putting their own insecurities on her. To me my son is the cutest boy in the world. People should think their kids are cute.

    • OriginalCee says:

      Zoe isn’t a case of AND/OR. She is both of latin and african descent, therefore he is afro latina and belongs to both groups.
      A white latina.

  2. littlegossipboy says:

    She slays and she has slayed since Centre Stage.

  3. Hannah says:

    I have no idea how old her children are now. I didn’t even know she had 3! But they are utterly adorable in top pic and Zoe’s whole look in that top pic is style goals.

  4. SarahCS says:

    I’m just here to say that as a fellow 44 year-old I hear her on your body hurting (and I do nothing like the physical training she has for her roles). Yikes it’s been a slippery slope since 40. Given that being an actor being active is often going to be a part of her job I hope she can find ways to look after herself and her health.

    • AlpineWitch says:

      I think we’re all different… I was stretching and doing the same things at 20 and at 44… just before turning 50 I put on a lot of weight due to health issues and my body has become completely unmanageable… all this in the space of 18 months…

  5. Steph says:

    A rare, yet still very bad, misstep on this site. A person identified themself as a woman of color and you just decided she was Black. She just told you who she was and you decided to talk over her. Not cool.
    You mentioned her Nina Simone movie and it’s bad reviews but didn’t mention that it was so bad bc they chose a non Black actress to play Nina and had to use prosthetics. She was in Black face.

    • ukonomme says:

      Zoe is mixed with black but the one drop rule is quite embedded in the cultural fabric of the US. It can be strange to non-(western) americans to see very obviously mixed raced people get designated into a category with accusations of self-denial if you don’t conform.

      I think Zoe got backlash because she isn’t African American, but a Latina who’s blackness isn’t derived from the specific AA struggle that informed Nina’s life. Just IMO.

      • Honey says:

        Re: Nina Simone – I do think that the controversy, in part, was that the role didn’t go to an African American actress. However, I think it was a bit larger than that. Why cast an actress in such an iconic role who you’d need to not only darken her skin significantly but one who you needed to use prosthetics to get there? Don’t get me wrong, it’s Hollywood—all make believe—but there were/are other actresses whose acting ability and natural looks/skin tone wouldn’t have been such a stretch. Then, the insult, to injury is that Zoe seems to be conflicted about the Afro (skin color) in being an Afro-Latina.

        Finally, I often think would there have been controversy had she gotten the role in a biopic about Lola Fulana. Probably not. Celia Cruz? I don’t know.

      • Cait C says:

        The One Drop Rule in the USA is not law and their has been a huge pushback in the Millennial and Gen Z kids and flat Blackness in general. Black people and and actual FBA women especially are no longer supporting their own erasure as far as representation goes.

    • Barbiem says:

      She was quick to say she wasn’t black while snatching up black roles. She didn’t always claim afro Latina. She use to say she didn’t see color at first and that B.S. She claimed only Latino, wasn’t until later in her career, she started to identify as black Latino.

      • Honey says:

        @BarbieM – thank you. I started to end my last comment with the words that Zoe herself has complicated the issue with her actions.

        I remember my stomach turning as I watched one of the Marvel movies and realizing that she was in it. (I’m not a Marvel movie buff.) I was with friends and started to walk out. Let’s just say that she’s not one of my favorite actresses.

      • Debbie says:

        @Barbiem and @Honey: I agree completely with your takes, and I’ve observed the same things as well. I must say that it’s affected how I feel about her as an actress as well. It was the same thing with Irene Cara in “Fame” when someone with a foot in both cultures steps into one, then as more roles open up for their other culture, they disavow the first one (conveniently forgetting the money they accepted, and the roles/opportunities taken from people who proudly claim to be part of that culture). So, it’s not just someone saying later “I’m also Hispanic” but actually saying “I’m not Black” after having taken Black roles because of the shade of their skins.

      • Honey says:

        @ Debbie – Exactly.

      • Sharon says:

        @Debbie and @Honey

        Thank you! And considering her and her sisters all married White men makes me wonder what their parents told them.

  6. Flower says:

    I love her anecdote about her children talking at her with their hands when they’re upset as they’re half Italian.

    So sweet.

    • AlpineWitch says:

      ‘Italian-Ness’ isn’t a genetic trait so she’s saying something idiotic there lol

      Also, it’s a learned behaviour in a community and if you want to know (I’m British/Italian) I’ve lost it and I never use any particular gestures in my daily life. However, it comes up again if I visit Italy by myself (strangely enough, not if I’m with my hubby).

      • Ella says:

        She’s not suggesting is “a genetic trait,” she’s suggesting it’s a cultural trait they’ve inherited from their Italian dad.

  7. Jm7 says:

    We saw her and her family in the Caymans a few years ago. We were in the same store, waiting for our (separate) boat tours to leave. I had no idea that it was them, I just remember that this Dad was telling his boys to say thank you to the cashier, and me thinking that this Dad was a great parent teaching his kids good manners. Then they left the store, and my husband told me “ that’s the girl in that movie …”. He’s bad with names but good with face recognition LOL. That’s when I realized that it was Zoe, Marco, and their boys.

  8. Big Bertha says:

    Colorism is a bitch. I grew up in an upper-class family in Mexico. My mother, a red-headed Mexican criolla, married my father, a dark-skinned half Sonoran Yaqui, half Lebanese man. They produced two children: a fair-skinned blond boy (my brother) and an olive-skinned brunette – me. Well guess who had all the perks growing up (not only because he was a boy in the 70s) because of his golden hair and white skin? Yeah, and he still does. I remember everyone praising him for being beautiful (white). The only remarks I got about my looks were “stay away from the sun or you’ll turn darker!” or my favorite – “if you had gotten your mother’s skin and your father’s dark hair you’d be gorgeous”. I still wonder how I didn’t go blind from rolling my eyes so much as a child.

  9. Sequinedheart says:

    She had her twins same time and same hospital as me. I remember walking out of a follow up appt and she breezed in towards me carrying one in an infant car seat and her husband followed with the other. She’s absolutely stunning IRL.
    They are indeed a sexy couple and those kids will be beautiful nerds. I’m here for it.

  10. Cait C says:

    Look at Zoe Saldana in the movie Terminal she had had a few nose jobs. Zoe didn’t need the prosthetic nose her original nose would have fit the bill