Zoe Saldana is the Fresh Face of Glam Belleza Latina’s Fall Issue—Come Hear Her Story!

Zoe Saldana rules the silver screen, but she’s still rooted in her Latin culture. GBL caught up with the bilingual star to talk beauty and why she’s “happy to be Latina.”

Zoe Saldana is a major-league movie star: ­Avatar was the first film to ever gross more than $2 ­billion globally; Star Trek brought in more than $350 million worldwide. Yet when Glam Belleza Latina talked to Saldana, 35, on a break from filming her 2014 Marvel Studios movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, in England this summer, it was easy to fall into a rhythm that felt like home. The Spanish was flying, and so were the laughs after we brought up the sweet impression of her mom she did on Jimmy Kimmel Live. (Google it—you’ll see!)


Born Zoe Yadira Saldana Nazario in New Jersey and raised in Queens, New York, Saldana moved to the Dominican Republic, her father’s homeland, after he was tragically killed in a car accident.  Saldana’s Puerto Rican mom, Asalia Nazario, thought Saldana and her sisters, Mariel and Cisely, would be better off with their grandparents on the island; today one can see that this difficult decision paid off and then some. Back in the United States, Saldana landed a key role as a fierce Latina ballerina in the movie Center Stage. Slowly yet steadily she built an impressive resume, with red-carpet cred and a focus on her love life to match. Her relationship with ex Bradley Cooper was closely watched and dissected.


Next up for Saldana is the drama Out of the Furnace, with Christian Bale and Woody Harrelson, in December, along with the much-anticipated Nina Simone biopic. In between bites of potato chips, ­Saldana talked about everything from her style to the controversy surrounding her role as Simone. Pongan atencion, bellezas.


GLAM Belleza Latina: Congrats on being our third-ever cover star! How do you feel about that?

Zoe Saldana: A magazine that caters to us is wonderful. As Latinas, we love beauty and taking care of ourselves—first for ourselves, then for others.


GBL: You’re a magnet for photographers on the red carpet. Are you very opinionated in the hair-and-makeup chair?

ZS: I know what I like, but I listen very closely to the team that I work with. These people are complete talents. Sometimes they all gang up on me, and they end up doing something beautiful and different.


GBL: You moved to the Dominican Republic from New York at age 10 to live with your grandparents after your father’s death. That must have been hard, yet it’s an experience familiar to a lot of first-­generation Americans, with so many immigrants sending their kids back home as they settle into the U.S. Do you think that’s part of why you are so strong?

ZS: Strength is something that either you’re born with or you acquire. It’s nature and nurture, you know? I do believe that it runs in my family, but it’s mostly the way that we were raised—by really strong, confident women.


GBL: Do you feel there’s a lot of pressure in being a first-generation American?

ZS: There’s something really beautiful about being first-generation. You’re in the middle, and you have to bring your parents and your grandparents to the other side. Yet, once you’re on the other side, you want to maintain the beauty of tradition. I feel like I was raised in a very balanced way. My mom wanted us to always be who we are, but she told us fables and stories of where we come from.


GBL: Do you ever feel like you have to educate mainstream media about what a Latino family is really like?

ZS: The only time I feel the need to take the podium is when somebody makes a very ignorant comment about Latino culture. [Laughs.] But 99 times out of 100, it’s an innocent ignorance. There are very few times that I’ve come across people who are just being mean for the sake of being mean. I’m not sensitive about a lot of things. And whether you get me or you don’t, I’m happy to be who I am.


GBL: How does being a black Latina inform your identity?

ZS: I am proud to be Latina. I will not accept [anyone] telling me that I’m less or whatever, because to me, that is just hysterical. But I don’t like to break and divide myself into all these small little categories like, “I’m an American, a woman, a Latina, a black Latina.’’ No. I am Zoe.


GBL: You don’t like to characterize yourself in a certain way.

ZS: In my house we never talked about “oh, black this, gay that, woman this, lesbian that.” It was just Fulano de Tal y Francisquita. That’s it. My mom never knew who we were going to bring to dinner at the house. Es difícil para mi hablar de este topic because it’s very foreign to me. I’ll talk about it because everybody else talks about it, but deep down, when I’m with my sisters, we don’t talk about ourselves in that way. We talk about life in food, flavors, and music. [Laughs.] That’s how we are.


GBL: How does this influence your feelings about portraying Nina Simone? Such a big deal was made over whether you were black enough or looked like her enough. Jennifer Lopez got a similar reaction when she was cast as Selena because she wasn’t Mexican. How did you get past the criticism?

ZS: You know, I do wish that people made their own judgment after they watch the movie because right now, it isn’t even edited yet, and there’s been so much uproar. I can’t say that I’m not affected by it or that it’s not valid. But the one thing that we all have in common is an unconditional love and admiration and respect for Nina Simone. Something that’s done out of love, in my mind, can’t be right or wrong.


GBL: Speaking of movies, you have such a range on your resume, from blockbusters to smaller indies. Your family must be so proud of you.

ZS: My mom helped me realize that when I am passionate about something, when I love the place that I’m at or the work that I’m doing, then [I can focus]. I don’t eat, I don’t sleep. It’s like a fever. I do it until it’s done. If I’m not interested in what I’m doing, I’m not going to pay attention—I’m massively ADD.


GBL: Has your career exceeded your wildest dreams?

ZS: Do you know what’s so funny? I never really dreamt about this. I like how I go about my life and make decisions that are good for me. I feel like that’s what has led me to my career. I’ve collected a wonderful palette that prevents people from boxing me in. I’m going to keep doing that.


GBL: You’ve generated headlines for comments you made in the press about potentially ending up in a relationship with a woman. Were you surprised at the reaction?

ZS: Honestly, as women, we have to teach the world to back up. I don’t know where I’m going to be in a year or five years, and so yeah, that [raising a family with another woman] can happen. Growing up, we’ve all heard the neighbors say, “Did you hear about Fulana?” “What do you mean?” “Ay, dejo al marido y ahora esta con Sofia.” And you’re like, What? [Laughs.]


GBL: You’re pretty fluent in Spanish. What do you think about how our Latin culture judges those who don’t speak the language?

ZS: In my household we spoke Spanish. We were sent to schools in the Dominican Republic for seven years, and we were able to master it. But I don’t judge, you know? I’m first-generation, but I have friends that are second- and third-generation who can make me an arroz con pollo that can kick my ass and they don’t speak a word of Spanish. So I can’t discriminate.


GBL: But do you think parents should teach their kids Spanish?

ZS: Yes. Even if you have to use Rosetta Stone!


GBL: Bueno, Zoe, thank you for talking to Glam Belleza Latina. Congratulations on all of your success!

ZS: ¡Con Dios por delante!




Zoe’s Red-Carpet Musts



That skin! Saldana’s go-to makeup artist, Vera Steimberg, tells GBL that the star is diligent with her routine, especially cleansing before bed. “She really respects her skin,” Steimberg says. We like: Garnier The Radiance Renewer Cleansing Gelée  ($7, at drugstores).



Saldana has mastered the art of red lipstick. “Red is present,” she says. “It makes you feel alive.” Try: Guerlain Rouge Automatique Lip Color in Liu 122 ($35, saks.com).



Laura Mercier Matte Eye Colour in Truffle ($23, lauramercier.com)



Chanel Le Volume de Chanel Mascara in Noir ($30, chanel.com)



Laura Mercier Crème Smooth Lip Colour  in Portofino  Red ($26, lauramercier .com)



Make Up For Ever Face & Body Liquid Make Up in #18 ($40, sephora .com)



Vera Steimberg, the makeup artist behind many of Saldana’s red-carpet beauty moments, admits to mixing a few foundation shades for the star. “Skin doesn’t have just one tone,” she says.



“We all know that Zoe loves a red ­lipstick!” says Steimberg. “If she goes with a red lip, we try to soften the rest of the face. I also like to find lipsticks with blue undertones. They work best on her skin tone.”


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