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


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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