How Zoe Saldana Has Been Coping With 2020
Zoe Saldana is embracing transparency and vulnerability in this challenging year. "We are not holding anything back, we are overcommunicating our ebbs and flows, and what's been happening with that is we get to heal each other," she says of her life these past several months. "I have aunts and cousins that have tested positive for COVID. I am praying and I am keeping sanity so that I can be strong for them. My heart is heavy. I just want to cry every day. I'm allowing myself to be vulnerable and to be fragile."
The actress, of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent, covers People en Español's new Most Influential issue, and spoke to the magazine about her family life during the coronavirus pandemic, her role as an activist, and how she talks to her three children about the news . "If 2020 comes and goes and you are still healthy with your family and everyone's OK, then it's all good," she says. "The only way I can get there is by taking it really slow. I've slowed down, that way I can really be kind to myself. By being kind to myself I'm being kind to everyone around me, I'm being kind to my husband, to my kids, to my parents, to my neighbors."
The star will return to the big screen in 2021 for Avatar 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy 3 in 2022, but her Hollywood success did not come easily. "I don't believe in luck," she says. "It's a lot of work. There are going to be moments when you do want to go out and you do want to drink until two in the morning, but I have a script to memorize. I have work to do, to prep before filming begins, and it's a long, 16-hour day. And now that I'm a mother and a wife, maybe I won't be there when my kids wake up because I have to leave for work, but I have to prep for their morning, too. I want to leave them a note, breakfast. I want them to know that I'm around, that Mommy works but Mommy will always come back. With my partner, too — I want to be there for my life partner. The life that you choose — being here on this side in Hollywood — is not all fine and dandy, it's not fancy, it's a lot of work. You have to try to be disciplined so that you make time for it all."
Making the world a better place is at the top of her priority list. The 42-year-old activist says she has talked to her children — Zen, 3, and twins Bowie and Cy, 5 — about social justice, teaching them by example how they can make positive changes in society. She has used her fame and influence to become an advocate for the rights of DREAMers and immigrant families. She has also spoken out about women's rights, equal pay, and defending the Time's Up movement. "The Time's Up movement two years ago was like a dream, a utopian dream that was finally coming to life and it was all in our hands. We are all accountable for each other," she says. "We all have to do our due diligence and donate, and spread the word and support each other so we can represent those who cannot voice their needs and fears themselves."
She is also passionate about achieving racial equality. 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."
The actress joined Lin-Manuel Miranda, Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lopez, and Joe Biden in virtual chat about the importance of Latino representation in politics during the Democratic National Convention in August. She also joined Voto Latino's campaign to motivate Latinos to register to vote before the presidential election in November. "If we don't make ourselves count, we don't exist," she says. "Please vote. We have to vote because if not we won't be responsible for the positive change in this nation."
She is also using her social media platform as a powerful tool to raise awareness and drive positive social change. "I have 7 million followers on Instagram. I still every day wake up and think, 'Seven million people on Earth know who the f*** I am? Wow!' First of all, thank you. Second of all, take a cute selfie sometimes. Third of all, have you heard about this organization? Did you hear about George Floyd? I'm understanding more and more the power that I have to put news and information in front of people that would have otherwise never known about something. I'm utilizing that — it's my duty."
For more with Zoe, look for the new issue of People en Español, now on stands.