Several Hollywood stars have become attached to major movie blockbuster franchises in the last decade or so. And actress Zoe Saldaa is no exception. In recent years, she has devoted her career to notable franchise roles such as Lt. Uhura in Star Trek, Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy (and the larger MCU), and Neytiri in Avatar. On paper, starring in several billion-dollar films appears to be a good idea, with each film raising Saldaa’s Hollywood profile. However, it appears that not all that glitters is gold, as the MCU star revealed that she felt stuck after working on major properties.
Saldaa’s words come as the actress prepares for one of 2022’s blockbusters, Avatar: The Way of Water, which opens in theaters on December 16. With mountains of promotion ahead for the long-delayed sequel, the Hollywood star admitted to WWD that he had lost his sense of creativity after working on nothing but big-budget movie franchises for a decade.
I feel like I’ve been stuck for the last ten years of my life. I felt trapped by these franchises. I’m grateful for the opportunities they’ve given me, such as working with amazing directors, meeting cast members I consider friends, and playing a role that fans, especially children, adore. But it also meant that I felt artistically stuck in my craft, unable to expand, grow, or challenge myself by playing different genres and roles. So this is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. And dealing with the pressure that society places on women to believe that once you have children and reach your forties, your youth is gone.
Playing iconic characters in multiple franchises has proven to be a double-edged sword for the beloved actress. Her increased profile allowed her to take on more roles, but she was still perceived as a sci-fi and action star. Fortunately, Saldaa has recently broken out of her runt role thanks to the critically panned farce Amsterdam and the beloved Netflix miniseries From Scratch. The MCU star appears to be regaining her equilibrium, as she will follow up Avatar 2 with one of the year’s most anticipated films, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which hits theaters on May 5.
While she felt pigeonholed as a franchise star, Saldaa channeled her rage to challenge Hollywood’s ageist beliefs. The Star Trek actress, like many others, has struggled with issues surrounding her desirability as a wife and mother of three. As a 44-year-old actress in the entertainment industry, she decided to reclaim control of her career.
But now that I’m 44, I’ve had these opportunities, and I’ve taken control of my aging, as well as my voice and how I think of myself as a woman. And I’m so grateful to be able to work with filmmakers, producers, and others in the industry who want that for women, who want women to be ageless and who don’t fetishize women’s youth. As a result, it’s intriguing. It’s very intriguing.
Saldaa is reclaiming control of her acting career after a decade as a dependable blockbuster action star. She is defying Hollywood’s obsession with women and aging by pursuing and creating projects for herself if the system will not.
Zoe Saldaa will appear in and produce Lioness, a new TV project from Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan. That doesn’t mean her career as a franchise star is over; she’ll appear in Avatar 3 as well as possible sequels Avatar 4 and 5. She will reprise her role as Lieutenant Uhura in the upcoming third Star Trek film.