Zoe Saldana (pronounced /sælˈdænə/ sal-dan-ə; born June 19, 1978), sometimes stylized Zoë Saldaña is an African American born actress whose parents are of Dominican Puerto Rican origin. Saldana's ancestors are from the African continent and her culture is hispanic. She had her breakthrough role in the 2000 film Center Stage, and later gained prominence for her roles as Anamaria in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Uhura in the 2009 film Star Trek, and a starring role as Neytiri in James Cameron's Avatar- the highest-grossing film of all time.
Zoe Saldana was born Zoe Yadira Saldaña Nazario or Zoe Yadira Saldana Nazario in Passaic, New Jersey, United States. Her father, Aridio Saldaña, is Dominican, and her mother, Asalia Nazario, is Puerto Rican.
Her first languages are English and Spanish. She speaks both languages fluently. She spent the majority of her early childhood growing up in Queens, New York. At 10, she moved with her family to the Dominican Republic, where they lived for the next seven years. Saldana took ballet at one of the most prestigious dancing schools in the Dominican Republic. After returning to Queens at age 17, she began performing with the Faces theater troupe, which put on plays geared towards providing positive messages for teens, via themes dealing with issues such as substance abuse and sex. These performances not only gave her valuable experience but were a source of great pride, as she knew that she was making a difference in the lives of young people like herself. While performing with the Faces troupe and also the New York Youth Theater Zoe was recruited for a talent agency. Her dance training years before, coupled with her acting experience, greatly helped her land her first big screen role as Eva, the talented and headstrong ballet dancer in the 2000 film Center Stage.
Zoe Saldana was still a member of Faces when she gained exposure in an episode of Law & Order (titled "Merger") which first aired in 1999. She left school after Center Stage, which film led to appearances in the Britney Spears vehicle Crossroads (2002) and the comedy-drama Drumline (2002). She played the pirate Anamaria in the 2003 film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, and has appeared in a number of television shows and movies, including The Terminal (2004) and Guess Who (2005).
Saldana was also the lead in the video for Juan Luis Guerra's song "La llave de mi corazón", and played Uhura in the 2009 film Star Trek. In 2009, she played Neytiri, the Na'vi princess, in James Cameron's Avatar, a role that gave her much publicity and recognition, and therefore presenting her more opportunities to work in big commercial films.
She is the only actress to have three movies in the box office top twenty for three consecutive weeks. These movies are Avatar, The Losers, and Death at a Funeral.
In August 2010, Saldana's television ad for Calvin Klein's "Envy" line debuted. In 2011, she will star in the crime drama movie Colombiana.
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Zoe Saldana at a screening of Colombiana in Miami