Actress Zoe Saldana who is best known for her roles in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Colombiana,” and “Star Trek” dishes about her experiences in Hollywood dealing with race, sexism and creating a balance between being a mom and actress. Peep a few excerpts below from her Allure interview.
On how it feels being a mom:
Looking back, I think the boys were three or four months old, and one morning I woke up with just this flood of emotions. Marco had them, too, and we were able to have our deconstruction session in the bathroom while they were napping, to say to each other, ‘Holy shit, did we come close to it all changing forever?’ We allowed ourselves to have a moment of ‘poor us.’ And that was it. Then somebody cried, and it was ‘Got to go!’
On movie studios turning down her request for child care:
The tone changed in the negotiations. I was starting to feel that I was…difficult. For babysitting to be considered a perk, or ‘Give this to me; I’m having a diva fit’? No.
This is a necessity that you must cover for me in order for me to go and perform my job. The fact that there are women working in these studios—and they’re the ones [enforcing] these man-made rules. When are we going to learn to stick together?
Being the only woman on set:
Part of growing up for me has been realizing that being the only female in a cast is no longer the coolest thing. It’s lonely. I used to love it because I thought, Ooh, I got in! I’m a cool girl!, but while all the guys were flexing and talking about their motorcycles, I was sitting there wishing I had women around.
How becoming a mother brought the support from other women in Hollywood:
We were all reaching out to each other. I got an email from Jessica Alba—who I only know from conversations in the bathroom at events—saying, ‘Hey, congratulations. This is my to-do list of how I did things. Maybe there will be something you can use.’
On women in Hollywood supporting each other:
That love and support from the network of women around you, it made me really… I get emotional because if we continue to do that, we will be unstoppable. As opposed to nitpicking at each other for arbitrary things such as weight and hair color and purses. It’s such f*cking minutiae when there are bigger issues that we have to be talking about, like equal pay and equal rights.
On confronting sexism in Hollywood:
I hired you to look good in your underwear holding a gun. The line is as much of a gut punch now as it was when it was delivered years ago. I was told walking into this project that they really wanted me for the part, and that any input or ideas I had to please share them. That’s what I was doing, and this producer was so bothered by the fact that he had to disrupt his vacation to call me and tell me to stop being a difficult b*tch.
I thought, Wow, it’s real. It really happens. I have no problem admitting my errors; just have respect for me. If I am just like wallpaper, there’s no need for me to be here. It’s kind of like that Nina Simone song—you’ve got to learn to leave the table when love isn’t being served.
On dealing with racism in Hollywood:
There’s no one way to be black. I’m black the way I know how to be. You have no idea who I am. I am black. I’m raising black men. Don’t you ever think you can look at me and address me with such disdain.
On her role as Nina Simone:
The script probably would still be lying around, going from office to office, agency to agency, and nobody would have done it. Female stories aren’t relevant enough, especially a black female story. I made a choice. Do I continue passing on the script and hope that the ‘right’ black person will do it, or do I say, ‘You know what? Whatever consequences this may bring] about, my casting is nothing in comparison to the fact that this story must be told.’
On being miscast for the role of Nina Simone:
I never saw her as unattractive. Nina looks like half my family! But if you think the [prosthetic] nose I wore was unattractive, then maybe you need to ask yourself, What do you consider beautiful? Do you consider a thinner nose beautiful, so the wider you get, the more insulted you become?
The fact that we’re talking about her, that Nina Simone is trending? We f*cking won. For so many years, nobody knew who the f*ck she was. She is essential to our American history. As a woman first, and only then as everything else.