‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ star Zoe Saldana on holding her own in a male-dominated movie genre: ‘So what if a few men call you a b—h?’
Female-fronted superhero movies have come a long way — but the film genre is still mainly a boys’ club, says actress Zoe Saldana.
The 40-year-old star of blockbusters like “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” says superhero stardom isn’t easy as a woman, despite the recent success of megahits like “Wonder Woman.”
“When you have 600 women, and we’re going after just one position, of course it’s going to be super competitive and stressful,” Saldana told Moneyish. “And once you get [on set], you’re the only female, so it’s super isolating. It tends to be a very male-dominated environment where if a female has an idea, you’re not given the proper attention that you deserve or you’ve earned. You do have to speak louder, and a little firmer.”
“But when you do that, you get labeled as ‘difficult.’ It’s like, damned if you do, or damned if you don’t,” she added. “So what if a few men call you a bitch?”
The New Jersey-born mother of three found breakthrough roles as translator and communications officer Nyota Uhura in “Star Trek” and Na’vi princess Neytiri in James Cameron’s acclaimed “Avatar” franchise. She went on to play Gamora, a superhuman with healing abilities that allow her to overpower villains and opponents, in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” And this year, Saldana became the only actor in history to star in two films (“Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avatar”) that made more than $2 billion at the box office.
Having a record-breaking resume has motivated Saldana to go after what she’s worth when it comes to negotiating film contracts.
“Being in two franchises that hit really big on a global scale, it did give me the confidence that I need, to know that I have the right to claim my stake, and to earn a piece of the pie that is being created or built,” Saldana, who teamed up with American Express to announce their new Cash Magnet card, said about getting fair pay.
And there’s millions of dollars at stake here. Female-led action flicks like “Wonder Woman” starring Gal Gadot; “Max Max: Fury Road,” starring Charlize Theron; Daisy Ridley’s portrayal of Jedi trainee Rey in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”; and the star-studded lady cast of “Ocean’s 8” have done gangbusters in recent years. Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman” amassed more than $800 million worldwide, and the trend of female-led movie hits is expected to continue, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “Oceans 8” debuted with a whopping $41.5 million at the box office — more than the $36 million to $39 million that the three previous male-fronted “Ocean’s” films starring the likes of Brad Pitt and George Clooney made during their opening weekends, without adjusting for inflation.
When she’s not fighting off villains on the big screen, the Latin-American actress has dedicated her time to her new media brand BESE (pronounced bee-say), a content platform featuring real-world stories about Latinos growing up in America. She hopes to shine a light on the impact people of color have on the country, and showcase more diversity.
“Once I gave birth to my twins, I realized that my own American experience as a first-generation American has been wonderful, to say the least,” she said. “But it’s also been challenging, because I’ve always been part of the American fabric, yet I’ve been always labeled as an ‘other,’ and that was something that was difficult for me to understand. The marginalization of people that look like me, and also in history, needs to change.”
At home, Saldana has committed to raising her three sons with husband Marco Perego in a gender-neutral household to show her kids that moms and dads are equal.
“That thing of ‘Your mom is the boss; talk to your mom’ is wrong, because it assigns all the hardship and lessons to the mom — and then the dad becomes the fun one that always says ‘yes,’” she said. “I don’t want to live like that.”
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