Rarely do beauty and talent combine in a form so complimentary to each other than in the case of actress Zoe Saldana. Whether gracefully gliding across the stage in dance, pounding the boards in a play, or lighting up the screen in such popular films as Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, the multi-faceted Saldana seems capable of achieving anything she puts her mind to. The New Jersey native was raised in Queens until the age of ten, when her family relocated to the Dominican Republic. The move proved a fateful blessing when young Saldana discovered her love of dance and enrolled in the ECOS Espacio de Danza Academy shortly thereafter, where she would study ballet, jazz, and modern Latin dance. Following her sophomore year in high school, Saldana and her family returned to the U.S. It was while completing her primary studies stateside that Saldana became involved with the Faces theater troupe, whose aim was to make a positive impact on teenage audiences by performing improvisational skits on such issues as substance abuse and sexuality. Involvement with another troupe, the New York Youth Theater, provided more traditional stage experience through such productions as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, and it was while performing with that troupe that a talent agent recognized great potential in the burgeoning actress.
In 1999, Saldana received what seemed to be the ideal first film role when she was cast as a talented but snippy dancer vying for a spot at the fictional American Ballet Company in the dance drama Center Stage. Other film roles followed, including Get Over It, Snipes, and a featured part in the Britney Spears teen drama Crossroads, which offered Saldana's first major theatrical release. Widely panned by critics but performing moderately at the box office thanks to legions of Spears fans, Crossroads proved just the fuel needed to get Saldana's struggling feature career running. The following year, she was back on the big screen in Drumline, which found her once again utilizing her dance skills as a college dance major and love interest of the talented but conflicted protagonist. Though her subsequent role as the sole female pirate in Pirates of the Caribbean offered little screen time, her performance as the only woman able to cast a spell over Johnny Depp's charismatic Jack Sparrow offered one of the film's most memorable comic scenes. Back on the indie circuit, Saldana headlined the 2003 rock musical Temptation as a talented singer facing hard times. A brief turn as a by-the-books customs officer in Steven Spielberg's The Terminal found the charming Saldana slowly warming to an immigrant stuck in bureaucratic limbo (played by Tom Hanks).
She was the female lead in Guess Who in 2005 and continued to work steadily. However, in 2009 she broke through in a big way when she was cast as Uhura in J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot, and later that year she was the female lead in James Cameron's mega-smash Avatar. She followed that up with the action film The Losers in 2010, and was front and center in another action spectacle, Columbiana, the year after that. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi