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Zoe Yadi­ra Sal­daña Nazario (/sæl?dæn?/ sal-DAN-?; born June 19, 1978), known as Zoë Sal­dana or Zoe Sal­dana, is an Amer­i­can actress. She had her break­through roles in the 2000 film Cen­ter Stage and the 2002 film Cross­roads. She lat­er gained promi­nence for her roles as Ana­maria in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, the young Uhu­ra in the 2009 film Star Trek, and Neytiri in James Cameron’s Avatar and its upcom­ing sequels.

Ear­ly life


Sal­dana was born Zoe Yadi­ra Sal­daña Nazario in Pas­sa­ic, New Jer­sey. Her late father, Aridio Sal­daña, was Domini­can, and her moth­er, Asalia Nazario, is Puer­to Rican. She has often spo­ken of her pride in being from a Latin cul­ture. Her first lan­guages are Eng­lish and Span­ish. She spent the major­i­ty of her ear­ly child­hood grow­ing up in Queens, New York. Her father died in a car acci­dent when she was nine years old, and Sal­daña and her moth­er sub­se­quent­ly moved to the Domini­can Repub­lic. There, Sal­daña dis­cov­ered her love of dance and soon enrolled in the ECOS Espa­cio de Dan­za Acad­e­my; she stud­ied bal­let, jazz, and mod­ern Latin dance. The fam­i­ly returned to Queens after her sopho­more year in high school.


In 1995, she began per­form­ing with the FACES the­ater group in Brook­lyn, which put on plays geared toward pro­vid­ing pos­i­tive mes­sages for teens, via themes deal­ing with issues such as sub­stance abuse and ado­les­cent sex­u­al­i­ty. Con­cur­rent­ly, she per­formed with the New York Youth The­ater; her appear­ance in their pro­duc­tion of Joseph and the Tech­ni­col­or Dream­coat led a tal­ent agency to recruit her. Her pre­vi­ous dance train­ing, and her act­ing expe­ri­ence, helped her land her first film role, play­ing Eva, the tal­ent­ed and head­strong bal­let dancer in the 2000 film Cen­ter Stage.


Sal­dana at the 82nd Acad­e­my Awards, 2010


Sal­dana was still a mem­ber of FACES when she gained expo­sure in an episode of Law & Order (titled “Merg­er”) which first aired in 1999. Sal­dana’s first film role was in Cen­ter Stage (2000), direct­ed by Nicholas Hyt­ner, about a group of young dancers from var­i­ous back­grounds who enroll at the fic­ti­tious Amer­i­can Bal­let Acad­e­my in New York City. She left school after Cen­ter Stage, sub­se­quent­ly appear­ing in the Brit­ney Spears vehi­cle Cross­roads (2002) and the com­e­dy-dra­ma Drum­line (2002). She played Ana­maria, a female pirate who signs up to join Will Turn­er and Mr Gibbs for a chance to con­front Jack Spar­row for steal­ing her ship in the 2003 film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Sal­dana appeared in three films in 2004, includ­ing The Ter­mi­nal, Haven and Temp­ta­tion. In 2005 Sal­dana appeared in Con­stel­la­tion, Guess Who with Ash­ton Kutch­er and Dirty Deeds, and in 2006 fea­tured in Premium.


Among oth­er roles, Sal­dana played Uhu­ra in the 2009 film Star Trek. In 2009, she played Neytiri, the Na’vi chief’s daugh­ter, in James Cameron’s Avatar, a role that raised her profile.


In 2010, Sal­dana starred in The Losers in which she played Aisha al-Fad­hil, for which she was required to gain weight, as she was expect­ed to car­ry weapons around for eight hours a day. Sal­dana also appeared in Tak­ers, Death at a Funer­al and Burn­ing Palms. In August 2010, her tele­vi­sion ad for Calvin Klein’s “Envy” line debuted. In 2011, Sal­dana starred in the roman­tic com­e­dy The Heart Spe­cial­ist, and she also starred in the crime dra­ma movie Colom­biana as Cata­leya Restre­po, a pro­fes­sion­al assas­sin. In 2012, she starred in the dra­ma film The Words.


Sal­dana reprised her role in Star Trek Into Dark­ness, the sequel to the 2009 reboot. It was released in May, 2013. In April 2013, Sal­dana entered nego­ti­a­tions to star as Gamo­ra in the 2014 film Guardians of the Galaxy. She lat­er con­firmed her part in the film. It is spec­u­lat­ed that Sal­dana will reprise the role of Neytiri in Avatar 2 in 2015.

Per­son­al life


In June 2010, Sal­dana became engaged to her long-time boyfriend Kei­th Brit­ton, an actor and CEO of My Fash­ion Data­base. In Novem­ber 2011, Sal­dana and Brit­ton announced that they had end­ed their rela­tion­ship after 11 years togeth­er. She was in an “on again, off again” rela­tion­ship with actor Bradley Coop­er from Decem­ber 2011 to Jan­u­ary 2013. Sal­dana then secret­ly mar­ried Ital­ian artist Mar­co Perego in June 2013 in London.

Sal­dana is a celebri­ty sup­port­er of FINCA Inter­na­tion­al, a micro­fi­nance organization.