Zoe Saldana-Perego (born June 19, 1978) known as Zoë Saldana, Zoe Saldana or Zoe Perego (/sælˈdænə/ sal-DAN-ə), is a Dominican actress and dancer. Following her performances with the FACES theater group, Saldana made her screen debut in an episode of Law & Order (1999). Her film career began a year later with Center Stage (2000), followed by a role in Crossroads (2002). She first gained some prominence for her role as Anamaria in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003).
Saldana's breakthrough came in 2009 with the roles of Nyota Uhura in Star Trek and Neytiri in James Cameron's Avatar (2009). The latter film received widespread acclaim, and is the highest-grossing film of all time. Saldana continued her successful career with films such as Colombiana (2011), Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014).
Saldana was born Zoe Yadira Saldaña Nazario in Passaic, New Jersey. Her father, Aridio Saldaña, was from the Dominican Republic, while her mother, Asalia Nazario, is from Puerto Rico. Saldana also has Haitian and Lebanese roots. She has often spoken of her pride in her ethnicity, and has said: "It doesn't matter how much backlash I will get for it; I will honor and respect my black community because that's who I am.". The majority of her early childhood she spent growing up in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York, and her native languages are both English and Spanish. She has two sisters, named Cisely and Mariel, and a half-brother named Nipo, known as "Nipo 809", who is a Dominican artist and producer.
Her father died in a car crash when she was nine years old, and Saldaña and her mother subsequently moved to the Dominican Republic. There, Saldaña discovered her love of dance and soon enrolled in the ECOS Espacio de Danza Academy; she studied various forms of dance but describes ballet as her first passion. She told Vanity Fair that she quit ballet because she did not have the feet and had too much pride and ambition to just be in the corps de ballet. The family returned to New York after her sophomore year in high school. In 1995, she began performing with the FACES theater group in Brooklyn, which put on plays geared toward providing positive messages for teens via themes dealing with issues such as substance abuse and adolescent sexuality. Concurrently, she performed with the New York Youth Theater; her appearance in their production of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat led a talent agency to recruit her. Her previous dance training, and her acting experience, helped her land her first film role, playing Eva Rodriguez, the talented and headstrong ballet student in the film Center Stage (2000)...
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