Talk about an identity crisis. This major Hollywood star can’t seem to make up her mind, so she identifies as both black and Latina.
Of course I’m talking about, the star of films like Avatar, Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Trek, Zoe Saldana.
“Soy una mujer negra” “I am a black woman”, she ludicrously states in fluent Spanish.
Officially Saldana is a black Latina of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, yet she is often asked to choose between Hispanic roots and black heritage.
But when it comes to Hollywood, the decision has been made for her.
Saldana is often considered too dark to be Latina by casting directors and has heard the common excuse “‘Oh, you know, you’re just not what we were looking for, your skin is a little darker,’” when going after Latina roles.
Hollywood has set her and others (yes there are others) like her straight, forcing her to choose one identity over the other.
As Gina Torres, another Hollywood actress who dares identify as both black and Latina has stated,
“When I became an actress, I quickly realized that the world liked their Latinas to look Italian, not like me and so I wasn’t going up for Latina parts, I was going up for African American parts.”
Cultural hybridity has no place in Hollywood, it seems, unless it is an ambiguous hybridity which appears to be at least partially “European American”.
Saldana considered too dark to be Latina by some has also been criticized for being too light skinned to play the role of Nina Simone.
Online petitions sprang up against her and the film not on the basis of her acting ability but rather questioning whether Saldana was cast because she, unlike Simone, is light skinned and therefore a more palatable choice for the Hollywood film than a darker skinned actress.
This is the reality for Zoe Saldana in Hollywood.
On the one hand she is told she is too dark to be Latina, on the other too light to be black.
Talk about an identity crisis.