Zoe Saldana landed on geeks’ radar screens in a major way via J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” movie last year, but she started showing the community some love as early as 2002. That’s the year she starred as Laila, the marching band dance team captain Nick Cannon wooed in “Drumline.” Yeah, the movie was set at a historically black college and suggested that band types could reach “Top Gun” levels of badassery, but there is nothing geekier than being in a marching band (I was) and taking it seriously (I did).
Saldana went on to rock the role of Uhura —and her minidress — with aplomb. Like the rest of that great cast, she paid homage to a beloved character while bringing something fresh and unexpected to the table. She’ll be getting her geek on again soon as the extraterrestrial lead, Neytiri, in James Cameron’s “Avatar.” I’ll be honest; I can’t tell whether that movie is going to be amazing or “Battlefield Earth” terrible. But whatever happens, I’m so happy that a minority actress (Saldana is of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent) is getting high-profile film work that doesn’t require her to act alongside a man in drag or simply act as a sounding board/best friend. I mean, when my daughter told me she wanted to dress up as Uhura next Halloween, I almost turned a cartwheel.
Interviews suggest that Saldana is not only comfortable with being, as the L.A. Times put it, “a queen of the Comic-Con tribe,” but genuinely stoked about it: “I’m very happy about that! I can’t think of better fans,” she told the paper. “These are people with a passion, and I love that. And science fiction is wonderful. We can’t limit our imagination, and that’s what science fiction never wants us to do.” (The interview, part of the L.A. Times‘ countdown to “Avatar,” is here.
Saldana would be my pick to play Agent 355 in Hollywood’s version of Brian K. Vaughan’s “Y: The Last Man” (I hear the studio wants Alicia Keys. No. No. Please. No.), and also she’d make a lovely Isis if DC-Warner Brothers were so inclined.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the “Star Trek” sequels develop Uhura’s character and her relationship with a certain Vulcan. And while the jury is out on “Avatar,” who am I kidding? I’m totally going to see it.
Rock on, Zoe!