Zoe Saldana talked about racism and sexism in Hollywood, and amen, sister
Sexism and racism are nothing new in Hollywood, unfortunately, which is why we are bowing to Zoe Saldana for speaking about the limits put on women and people of color in the movie industry and beyond.
Zoe, who just had a son, mentioned how lonely she often feels as the only women on set, and how it saddens her that many of her favorite historical dramas or old American tales brought to the screen don’t have any parts for her.
Zoe, as we are well aware, has more than proven her chops; she’s been in everything from the action-packed Avatar to Guardians of the Galaxy to the Star Trek films, while also bringing a humbling humanity to the great Nina Simone in the biopic Nina. Zoe’s big grievance: She’s sure she could do it all, if Hollywood would let her.
She’s been green, she’s been blue, she’s been Commander Uhura. Now all Zoe Saldana wants is to not be the only woman on set.
When she was younger and transitioning from ballerina to film star in New York, her thoughts were different regarding other women in the field.
"Like all other young actresses, I saw other women as competition. If there were 50,000 of us going out for the role, and if I got it, I must be the best," said Zoe. Now, things are different. "I feel lonely on set. And it's not just that you're the only woman in the cast. There are very few women on the crew. You hardly ever get to work with a female director...You're completely outnumbered. And you take a hit in your paycheck as a woman too." she told TIME Magazine this week. "I'm so f-cking tired of it."
As for people of color in the industry, she often feels like she falls in between the cracks. When she wore darker makeup for Nina, she was criticized. Yet so many famous roles she loves (she cites Alien‘s Ellen Ripley and Terminator‘s Sarah Connor — two roles she’d kick total ass in) were famously played by white women and would most likely again in a future reboot.
The daughter of Dominican and Puerto Rican parents, Saldana feels she is seen as either “too dark or too light” for historical dramas and portrayals.
So what can Hollywood to broaden opportunities for women and non-white actors? For one, we can salute and celebrate directors like Kathryn Bigalow who won an Oscar (the first and only woman to win Best Director, and over ex-husband James Cameron for Avatar, no less) for directing The Hurt Locker a few years back, proving that female directors are welcome and worthy of performing in the field.
Secondly, we can work hard to prove that that very sentiment is true — that doors will open as swiftly for females as they do for males in Hollywood, and that good work will always be found and rewarded. We can write, create and prioritize roles made for people of color. If the lead in a film doesn’t have a specified background, why not open casting to people of all races?(Think: Jennifer Lawrence in just about every role she’s ever played — we love J. Law, but how many of them needed to be a white person for the sake of the story? Silver Linings Playbook, Passengers? Even Katniss is described as “olive skinned” in her source material!) It’s a start, and it’s hopefully one that’ll put Zoe back in the company of performers like her: strong, talented, and oh yeah, not always a white dude.