Zoe Saldana was born on June 19, 1978 in Passaic, New Jersey, to Asalia Nazario and Aridio Saldaña. Her father was Dominican and her mother is Puerto Rican. She was raised in Queens, New York. When she was 10 years old, she and her family moved to the Dominican Republic, where they would live for the next seven years. While living there, Zoe discovered a keen interest in performance dance and began her training at the prestigious ECOS Espacio de Danza Dance Academy where she learned ballet as well as other dance forms. Not only did her training provide an excellent outlet for the enthusiastic and energetic youngster, it would also prove to be a fortunate precursor for the start of her professional acting career. At age 17, Zoe and her family moved back to the United States where her love for dance followed and an interest in theater performance became stronger.
She began performing with the Faces theater troupe which put on plays geared to provide positive messages for teens with themes dealing with issues such as substance abuse and sex. These performances not only gave her valuable experience but also a source of great pride knowing that she was making a difference in the lives of young people like herself. While performing with the Faces troupe and also the New York Youth Theater, Zoe was recruited for a talent agency and her dance training years before coupled with her acting experience greatly helped her land her first big screen role as Eva Rodriguez, the talented and headstrong ballet dancer in the film Center Stage (2000). Since her professional career began several years ago, Zoe's talent and determination have allowed her to be involved in blockbuster films and act with major actors, actresses and industry insiders at a pace that very few young professionals have experienced.
Zoe has not only held her own in major motion picture productions but gained the respect and praise from industry insiders such as Jerry Bruckheimer and Steven Spielberg and actors/actresses such as Tom Hanks, Bernie Mac, Keira Knightley, Ashton Kutcher, Kirsten Dunst and Orlando Bloom. According to many of her co-stars, producers and directors, the sky is no limit for this young star who has incredible range, intense concentration, and a steely determination to be involved with projects that challenge her professionally with wide-ranging subject matters and characters. Just to ask practically anyone who she has worked for or with about her, glowing comments abound and earned friendships and respect are readily revealed. A star has been born, and growing every day.