Zoe Saldana: ‘Science Fiction Allows Me to be Color and Gender-Blind’

Zoe Saldana

Zoe Saldana insists science fiction movies allow her to be the “chameleon” actors are supposed to be.

The actress, who is of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, has found a niche in the genre after landing roles in three of the biggest film franchises in Hollywood. Zoe has starred as Neytiri in Avatar, Nyota Uhura in the Star Trek reboot and will soon be seen reprising her role of Gamora in the sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy, alongside Chris Pratt.


The 38-year-old explained in an interview with Australian newspaper The Daily Telegraph that working in the genre makes her feel “superhuman”, and it has allowed her to move beyond the expectations placed on her due to her skin color and gender.

“(Portraying a science fiction character) makes me feel superhuman because, obviously, it’s been brought to my attention continuously since I was born that I’m not a conventional person because of the color of my skin or my gender or my cultural background,” Zoe responded, when asked what she finds so appealing about the genre. “So I think science fiction has given me the ability as an artist to be color-blind and gender-blind, and to imagine and reinvent myself and be the chameleon actors are supposed to be.”

Avatar, Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington
20th Century Fox via Everett Collection

Zoe has had blue skin in Avatar, and gone green for Guardians, which she says is a lot of fun – apart from the time-consuming process of putting it on. While Zoes color-blind approach works well for sci-fi, it has drawn some criticism in other genres.

In 2015, she was heavily criticized for wearing blackface and a prosthetic nose to play iconic singer Nina Simone in a biopic.

Zoe Saldana, Nina, Nina Simone
RLJ Entertainment

Zoe defended herself at the time by stating: “An artist is colorless, genderless … It’s more complex than just, ‘Oh, you chose the Halle Berry lookalike to play a dark, strikingly beautiful, iconic black woman.’ The truth is, they chose an artist who was willing to sacrifice herself.”