Zoë Saldana’s world

Last year, globalgrrl called the
perfection that is casting Zoë Saldana as Uhura in the new Star Trek movie.

This year, Saldana spoke with blackfilm.com about the role, as well as her indie
film, Blackout, which is released on DVD today. I’d heard
a little bit about that project, and
the IMDb.com synopsis promises as much drama and tragedy
as the day the lights went out in Brooklyn back in 2003: “It
examines the nature of man to take advantage of his own fellow man outside
of normal conditions, in times of weakness and vulnerability.”
You can catch clips from the film here, but here’s a taste.

I’m only a casual fan of the
Star Trek beast, but I found it interesting to hear from Saldana about
stepping into a role practically trademarked by another actor, and her
career to come.

She does confess that she never
was a fan of the original series:

    I was not a fan until now,
    and I have so much admiration for what they did, and how much the series
    continues to grow after 45 years. I had the honor of meeting Nichelle
    Nichols and working with Leonard Nimoy, and it was fantastic.

But she has an appreciation
for Nichols and the ground she broke in taking the role of Uhura, who
happened to be one of the first major African-American characters on
network TV:

    I was able to sit down
    with her, and she told me the whole story of how Uhura came to be and
    where they were going with her character. It all fell into place
    the moment she walked into the door and auditioned for the part.
    She named the character herself … and she felt as an artist, she
    was going to make the part big.

So big, in fact, that now it’s a part
that needs more than one actress. About trying on the uniform
for the first time, she says:

    It was very interesting.
    The moment everything came together from the hair, the costume, being
    on the set, and then you start to feel, ‘OK, this is real. This is
    amazing and fun’.

About her career, Saldana says
that she looks for roles that are more than just “the chick in the
flick,” but actually look like the strong, hard-working women she
knows:

    It’s almost an insult when
    you read scripts and you see that the guy is the hero. Women are becoming
    filmmakers, directors, and writers, and writing things how they see
    themselves. Star Trek was no different and neither was Avatar. Look
    at Uhura. She’s a lieutenant on the Enterprise, where she’s an equal
    with everyone. She’s not just a woman. She’s in command just like everyone
    else is, with power and strength. I felt a mass appeal when I read the
    script and when J.J. Abrams told me he wanted me to do it.

The only note that rang a little
sour for me was when Saldana prefaced the above statement by saying
“I’m not a feminist.” I tend to subscribe to the school of
feminist thought that says “Feminism is the radical notion that women
are people,” so it’s a little hard for me to reconcile her strong-female aesthetic with that. But whatever. Labels are so
second wave. Call it what you like; what’s important is that she’s
interested in bringing strong female characters to her audiences.
That’s a world I want to see explored.

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