Q&A: Zoe Saldana on Juggling 3 Hit Franchises and Her New Media Brand for Latinx Millennials

Guardians of the Galaxy star spotlights untold stories with Bese

Zoe Saldana stars in the Guardians of the Galaxy, Avatar and Star Trek franchises.
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Many stars aspire to nab a hit movie franchise, but Zoe Saldana has three of them. She plays Gamora in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy films (and will appear in April 27’s Avengers: Infinity War, alongside every other major character from the Marvel Cinematic Universe). She also appears as Uhura in the Star Trek movies. Next, Saldana is reprising her Avatar role of Neytiri in four announced sequels to the James Cameron blockbuster, which are in production now.

On top of her numerous hefty roles, the actress is also branching out into media with Bese, the digital and social media brand she launched earlier this month to empower Latinx millennial and Generation Zers and spotlight untold stories in America. (The name comes from the verb “to be” in two languages: the English “be” and Spanish “se.”)

Saldana talked with Adweek about how her kids inspired Bese, juggling three sci-fi franchises and what she looks for when partnering with brands.

Adweek: What inspired Bese, and why was it such an important project for you?
Saldana: I was inspired during my pregnancy with my first son. There’s a lot of reflection that happens when you’re about to become a parent. My American experience has been great, but it does carry bittersweet events that made me feel excluded from the American narrative at times. I wanted so many things for my kids, and I also wanted to change so many things for them, because I didn’t want them to go through that experience of being excluded from a conversation. I wanted to participate in broadening the narrative for my country, and I wanted my country to be worthy of my son. So observing throughout my career how mainstream media can be a tool or a weapon—that can either guide or misguide its audience—made me understand the power [of] communication, and the power of creating good content that is positive, that cultivates aspiration.

Even though you’ve been thinking about this for years, given everything going on politically, this seems like the perfect time for a platform like this.
Absolutely. Had I stayed in New York and pursued another career and never traveled across America, I think I would have believed all that the media was feeding me about stereotypes. Not just within my community, but within other communities across our nation. I feel like mainstream media can make or break bonds amongst our American communities, and that is frightening for me.

How often will we hear from you personally on the site?
I’m not looking to be the face of Bese. I will share stories if they are relevant in relation to a series we’re creating, but I feel like the people across America will be the stories that we showcase.

Bese doesn’t have any advertisers right now. Are you looking for brands to partner with?
Absolutely. Before Bese was launched, as we were creating our business deck, I was sitting down with brands like Coca-Cola and Bank of America and Target, brands whose missions are very much aligned with the missions of Bese and its core value of highlighting underrepresented communities and empowering underrepresented communities across gender, race, class and language of origin. I feel like the more Bese continues to grow, the more we will be able to prove to many brands that Bese is a platform [with which] they should be in business.

You launched Bese shortly before your next Marvel film, Avengers: Infinity War. Your character, Gamora, has the most personal connection to the film’s villain, Thanos, out of anyone in that universe.
Yeah. She’s his daughter. He raised her. So I really liked that the Russo brothers [who directed the film] and their team of writers, in order for them to extend the whole narrative of Thanos, they looked to explore his personal life. And I feel like that’s what makes him a lot more mischievous as a villain: the fact that as a father, he just was pure evil.

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