Zoe Saldana Reveals She Was Encouraged to Change Her Name Early in Career

Zoe Saldaña is best known for roles such as Gamora in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Uhura in Star Trek, and Neytiri in Avatar and she's currently starring alongside Ryan Reynolds in the new Netflix movie, The Adam Project. Saldaña's first big role was back in 2000 playing Eva in Center Stage, and she recently revealed to Entertainment Weekly's Bold School that she was encouraged to change her name when she took the role. 

"When I did Center Stage, I remember being discouraged by my management at that time to use my name," Saldaña explained, before clarifying, "but their intention was never for me to stop being who I was. They celebrated who I was." She added, "But my manager at the time was a former singer and a ballroom performer, and she did change her name as well, when she was a teenager back in the '60s, I believe. And she said it's what everybody does."

"That was her doing the best that she wanted for me, but I still knew that I liked my name."

During the interview, she also shared the best advice she ever received both from Steven Spielberg, who was her director on The Terminal, and James Cameron, her Avatar director. 

Spielberg said, "In order for you to know where you're going, you must always know where you came from." Cameron, on the other hand, said, "Girl, you gotta know how to run!" As a former ballerina, Saldaña had been discouraged from running to preserve her feet, and it was noticeable while she was making Avatar.

In addition to The Adam Project, Saldaña is currently in production for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and she's been posting some new images in her Gamora makeup. Last year, she posted about how Gamora almost had green eyes in the MCU. 

"Would you believe that Gamora almost had green eyes?" she wrote. "In one of the many camera tests, we had @jamesgunn wanted to see how I looked with green eyes as Gamora. Eventually, he changed his mind about that, and I was so grateful that he did because I found these contacts to be so uncomfortable. My heart went out to @davebautista and @karengillan who had to wear contacts for Drax and Nebula. But their characters looked amazing in them, plus they're true professionals! Reminiscing a lot lately as we gear up to go back for another Guardians adventure! #gotg3"

The Adam Project is now streaming on Netflix. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is due to hit theaters on May 5, 2023.