Zoe Yadira Saldaña Perego (née Saldaña Nazario; born June 19, 1978) is an American actress. After her performances with the theater group Faces, she was in a 1999 episode of Law & Order. Her film career began a year later with Center Stage (2000) portraying a ballet dancer.
Saldaña worked in science fiction films, beginning in 2009 with her first of multiple appearances as Nyota Uhura in the Star Trek film series and her first appearance as Neytiri in the Avatar film series. She portrays Gamora in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, beginning with Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). Saldaña appeared in three of the five highest-grossing films of all time (Avatar, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame), something no other actor has done. Her films grossed more than $11 billion worldwide, and she is the second-highest-grossing film actress of all time as of 2019.
Saldaña was born on June 19, 1978, in Passaic, New Jersey. The majority of her early childhood was spent in Jackson Heights, New York. She was raised bilingual, speaking English and Spanish. She has two sisters, Cisely and Mariel. Their father died in a vehicle wreck around her ninth birthday, and their mother moved with the children to the Dominican Republic. With regard to her racial identity, Saldaña stated, “There’s no one way to be black. I’m black the way I know how to be.” While she was raised by her stepfather Dagoberto Galan, her biological father Aridio Saldaña was Dominican, while her mother Asalia Nazario is Puerto Rican. In an interview with Wired, she stated that she is 3/4 Dominican and 1/4 Puerto Rican.
Saldaña discovered her love of dance in the Dominican Republic, then enrolled in the ECOS Espacio de Danza Academy studying forms of dance, but describes ballet as her passion. She told Vanity Fair 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 City after her sophomore year at Newtown High School. In 1995, she performed with the Faces theater group in Brooklyn, with plays providing positive messages for teens via themes dealing with issues such as substance abuse and adolescent sex. During these years, she performed with the New York Youth Theater; her appearance in their production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat led a talent agency to recruit her. Her dance training and her acting experience helped her land her first film role, playing ballet student Eva Rodriguez in Center Stage (2000).
In June 2010, Saldaña was engaged to her longtime boyfriend Keith Britton, an actor and the CEO of My Fashion Database. In November 2011, she and Britton announced they had ended their relationship after eleven years. Saldaña was in a relationship with actor Bradley Cooper from December 2011 to January 2013.
In March 2013, Saldaña began dating Italian artist Marco Perego. They married in June 2013 in London. In July 2015, Saldaña revealed Perego adopted her surname upon marriage. Thereafter, Zoe became Zoe Saldaña-Perego and Marco became Marco Perego-Saldaña. Their children would be Perego-Saldaña. Saldaña and Perego have three sons, twins born in November 2014 and the third born in February 2017. Saldaña has stated her children will be multilingual because she and her husband speak Spanish, Italian and English around them.
In July 2016, during an interview with Net-a-Porter’s The Edit, Saldaña revealed she has Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease, along with her mother and sisters. To combat the effects of this disease, Saldaña said she and her husband adhere to a gluten- and dairy-free diet. Saldaña is a supporter of FINCA International, a micro-finance organization.
Saldaña is left-handed. In 2015, during International Left-Handers Day, she tweeted in support of the Left-Handers Movement. In 2017, Saldaña founded BESE, a digital media platform designed to “combat the lack of diversity in the mainstream media” with an interest on positive stories within the Latino community. In September 2020, Saldaña used her social media presence to participate in the VoteRiders #IDCheck Challenge to help spread the word about voter ID requirements for the upcoming presidential election