Zoe Saldana

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1 min read

Zoe Yadira Saldaña Nazario was born June 19, 1978 and is an American actress and dancer. Following her performances with the theater group Faces, Saldana made her screen debut in a 1999 episode of Law & Order.

Saldana was born in Passaic, New Jersey. Her father, Aridio Saldaña, was Dominican, while her mother, Asalia Nazario, is Puerto Rican. She was christened Zoe Yadira Saldaña Nazario, reflecting both her parents’ surnames. Saldana also has Lebanese and Haitian roots.  She spent the majority of her early childhood growing up in Jackson Heights, New York. She was raised bilingual, speaking English and Spanish. She has two sisters, Cisely and Mariel. Their father died in a car crash when Zoe was 9 years old, and their mother subsequently moved with the children to the Dominican Republic. 

Saldana discovered her love of dance in the Dominican Republic and enrolled in the ECOS Espacio de Danza Academy; she studied various forms of dance, but describes ballet as her first passion. She told Vanity Fair that she quit ballet because she did not have the feet and had too much pride and ambition to just be in the corps de ballet. The family returned to New York 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 one of their production led a talent agency to recruit her. Her previous dance training, and her acting experience, helped her land her first film role. 

In March 2013, Saldana began dating Italian artist Marco Perego. They secretly married in June 2013 in London. In July 2015, Saldana revealed that, in a reversal of tradition, Perego adopted her surname upon marriage. Thereafter, Zoe became Zoe Saldana-Perego and Marco became Marco Perego-Saldana. Their children would be Perego-Saldana. Saldana and Perego have three sons together, twins born in November 2014 and the third born in February 2017. Saldana stated that her children will be bilingual as she and her husband plan to speak both Spanish and English around them.

In July 2016, during an interview with Net-a-Porter’s The Edit, Saldana revealed that she has Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease, along with her mother and sisters. To combat the effects of this disease, Saldana said she and her husband adhere to a gluten- and dairy-free diet.