An illustration of Saldana with her characters from 'Avatar' and 'Avengers' on either side.
Zoe Saldana's talent has made her an integral part of several iconic science fiction films. (illustration by Sonja Vasiljeva, San Jose State University)

Zoe Saldana May Actually Be Hollywood’s Lucky Penny

From box office hits like ‘Avengers: Endgame’ to game-changers like ‘Avatar,’ it would seem everything the actress touches turns to gold.

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An illustration of Saldana with her characters from 'Avatar' and 'Avengers' on either side.

From box office hits like ‘Avengers: Endgame’ to game-changers like ‘Avatar,’ it would seem everything the actress touches turns to gold.

Actress and activist Zoe Saldana is regarded as one of Hollywood’s highest-grossing actresses of all time. From her theater performances in the earlier part of her career to getting cast in numerous major blockbuster films, Saldana has received much acclaim in popular culture and mainstream media. It is one thing to be talented, and it is another to showcase variety in such a captivating way. Over the course of her ongoing career, Saldana has had a knack for bringing some of the most unforgettable characters to life. Her mastery of genres knows no bounds, and her range of diverse roles is a contributing factor to her grandeur. Being Hollywood’s “lucky penny” might be a bit of an understatement considering how much attention her performances garner. Everything she touches turns to gold — or in her case, amasses billions for the film industry.

Those who know Saldana by face alone recognize her as the characters she has portrayed in the astounding science fiction movies she has been in. Trekkies of the “Star Trek” fandom know her face as that of Nyota Uhura in the “Star Trek” Kelvin timeline series. She plays the role of a young Uhura, the iconic communications officer on the Enterprise. Saldana does this role justice, paying respect to the character’s earlier depictions in television, film and comics.

Devotees of James Cameron’s “Avatar” know her as the voice and movements behind Neytiri. Because “Avatar” helped redefine science fiction films, the role of Neytiri is probably Saldana’s most iconic work — as if she wasn’t already an icon to begin with. Here, she is a trained alien fighter with royalty in her blood. Her destiny is hers for the making, which is kind of a commonality in most of Saldana’s roles. Her characters never need anyone and are fully capable of handling themselves, as well as standing up for what they believe in.

Early viewers of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise know her as Anamaria from “The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.” Saldana’s first appearance in this trailblazing franchise is integral to the entire storyline. Anamaria is a smuggler traveling with pirates in search of treasure, as always. She has a firm hand as a pirate and owner of a ship and acts as comic relief when interacting with Jack Sparrow.

Her role as Gamora in some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s films is the most showstopping; this former Zehoberei assassin and green-skinned member of the Guardians of the Galaxy is another character Saldana has taken on. Her heart is that of a strong-willed warrior with an honorable persona. These fictional characters portrayed by Saldana have been critical to getting her as far as she has.

Of course, Saldana is not unaware of her chameleon-like prowess. In an interview for The Daily Telegraph back in 2017, she stated, “I think science fiction has given me the ability as an artist to be colorblind and gender-blind, and to imagine and reinvent myself and be the chameleon actors are supposed to be.” Saldana has proven in more ways than one that her skin is thick with appearances in “Avatar” and the MCU film “Avengers: Endgame” — the two highest-grossing films of all time. Whether she’s playing a highly intelligent alien heroine with green skin or an alien warrior-princess with blue skin generated by computer imagery, Saldana never comes to play.

Writer Profile

Fatima Sani

Rollins College
Psychology with a Creative Writing minor

Fatima Sani is a New York-born Nigerian storyteller attending college in Florida. She enjoys writing poetry and short stories when she’s not intensely analyzing movies and television series. Her favorite place in the world is anywhere family can be found and she believes the beach is prettiest in the early mornings.

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