Zoe Saldana, Aymée Nuviola, and Ilia Calderón Share Their Interracial Love Stories
Three famous Afro-Latinas — Zoe Saldana, Aymée Nuviola, and Ilia Calderón — talked to People en Español about their interracial love stories. Hollywood star Zoe Saldana, of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent, 42, found her soulmate in Italian artist and director Marco Perego, 41. The couple tied the knot in 2013 in a romantic secret ceremony in London, and now have three children together. They have taught twins Bowie and Cy, 5, and son Zen, 3, to embrace and celebrate their diverse family.
"They're aware of their beautiful skin, we celebrate it. We are two cultures that have come together and we live off of rituals," she says of sharing their Latino and Italian traditions with their kids. "One of the boys is more emotionally mature and he is the one that is tapping into this and more aggressively trying to process, and he's like: 'Can I say Black Lives Matter?' 'You have to,' we tell them, because we matter, the same way that everybody matters."
After the death of George Floyd in May, Saldana talked to her kids about the Black Lives Matter protests, police brutality, and racism. "When it comes to Black Lives Matter and this movement, we are a Black Latino and Italian family in America. We are patriots of all nations that comprise that," she says. "There are a lot of feelings, and we are respectful of [the kids'] space and their tenderness when they are asking. There are a lot of books that we've been buying on activism and how to embrace who we are as a family. As a half-Latinx family, I don't want my children — being Latinx as well — to have to feel as confused as I did about colorism. I think it's time that we have open conversations about the true systemic racism that exists within our communities."
After seeing Aymée Nuviola singing at Hoy Como Ayer, a nightclub in Miami in 2010, Paulo Simeón fell in love at first sight and asked the Afro-Cuban singer for her phone number backstage. "From the beginning I saw how likable and funny he was," the Grammy and Latin Grammy winner, 47, recalls about meeting the former Univision executive, 54, who is now her manager and the producer of some of her albums. Simeón, who is also Cuban, won her over with his sense of humor. Before they started dating, Nuviola asked him to send her a photo of himself because she had only seen him once at the club in the dark, and he jokingly sent her a photo of Brad Pitt. "That's when I said, 'I'm going to marry this man,'" she jokes. "He takes care of me and my family," she adds about her caring husband, who is her number-one fan and supporter.
Nuviola says their faith in God strengthened their marriage and has helped them overcome challenges like a recent health crisis, after they both tested positive for COVID-19 in July. Besides their love for music and traveling, they enjoy discovering new restaurants together and visiting museums. Both of their families, she assures, have blended beautifully, and no one treats them differently because of their skin tones. "Love has no racial or social differences," she says. "When you love, you love, and that's it."
Afro-Colombian TV host Ilia Calderón, 48, found true love in her husband Eugene Jang, a physiotherapist of Korean descent, 45. "Our relationship has been based on strengthening the things we are alike in," says the co-anchor of Noticiero Univisión. The cultural and racial contrasts only enrich their union of over 10 years. "You cannot imagine him eating bandeja paisa, but he loves it. I learned to eat with chopsticks," she says. They have also taught their seven-year-old daughter Anna to love her multicultural heritage.
A friend in common introduced them in Miami and they clicked from their first date. "We went to eat at a restaurant in Grove Isle, with a bonfire outside, with a view of the bay, it was super romantic," she recalls. "As we were walking inside the restaurant our hands touched, he held my hand and we walked in like that, as if we were already a couple."
Calderón — who recently published her memoir My Time to Speak: Reclaiming Ancestry and Confronting Race — says they come from different worlds and have unique personalities, but have a lot in common. "The values of respect, honesty, and loyalty are the same," she says. "The fundamental thing is what's inside. That's what made us fall in love with each other. That's what will keep us together until the end."