If you’re a fan of Zoe Saldana, chances are you remember her first major film role as pirate Anamaria in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl — I know I do! How could I forget the first time I noticed an Afro-Latina acting in a major blockbuster? But it turns out, Zoe doesn’t have the best memories of that film. In fact, she claims that the “bitter” experience almost made her leave the industry.
“I left that experience feeling a little bitter,” she said in an exclusive interview for the May issue of Cosmopolitan UK. But apparently Zoe’s experience was more than just “super elitist,” as she described it. She endured a lot of the same sexist BS a lot of actresses in Hollywood do.
The Dominican-Puerto Rican actress who has participated in both the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, refuses to ever put up with what she had to deal with on the set of Pirates of the Caribbean again.
“I don’t want to go back to that. I don’t want to hear another man tell me, ‘Oh you were my muse.’ I don’t want to be your f*cking muse anymore. I don’t want you to just post me on your wall and look at me. I want you to listen to me!”
Zoe didn’t get specific about what went down during filming. She also didn’t call out any names but she did mention how poorly she was treated and how undervalued she felt.
“If I’m like ‘I could have been with my family, in school learning, or traveling, but instead I’m here being treated like an extra but in a very despicable way by people who don’t even speak properly …,’ my time is being wasted.”
Fortunately, she didn’t quit her acting career and thanks to Steven Spielberg, who starred her alongside Tom Hanks in The Terminal. “He remembered that I’d been made to feel so irrelevant before and he went out of his way to make me feel the exact opposite,” she says.
One thing for sure, Zoe won’t be silent and encourages other women to use their voice to tell their stories.
“The highroad for a woman for centuries was silence … The new high road is speaking up,” she says while also addressing the importance of including men in this important narrative. “We have to broaden the narrative of #MeToo. The same way it applies to victims, it should apply to men who were blind who have now seen. If there is one thing I advise, it’s to be kind to the men who are making an effort and don’t put them all in a box. Let’s not do to others what has been done to us.”
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Today is Latina Equal Pay Day, marking the 11 extra months Latinas have to work to make the same amount as men earned last year. The gender pay gap is greatest for Latinas, who earn only 54 cents for every $1 a man makes. It's an injustice that affects our lives in countless ways. Soy una mujer fenomenal — and I deserve equal pay! We're not 54% phenomenal. We bring 💯% every day and it’s time we make 💯% Show your support for hard-working Latinas, and seven organizations working to end the pay gap, by rocking this Maya Angelou-inspired tee from @phenomenal.ly. #FIERCEWomenxEqualPay
Zoe is far from the first celeb to open up about her #MeToo moment. Quite a few stars — including Latina celebrities — have opened up about their unfortunate experiences not just in Hollywood but also with sexual harassment, molestation, and assault.
In January, actress and activist Rosario Dawson opened up about being abused at home and seeing abuse in Hollywood. America Ferrera posted on Instagram this past October, her heartbreaking story of being sexually assaulted when she was only 9-years-old. Actress Vanessa Marquez shared on Twitter how she was blacklisted from Hollywood after filing a complaint about being sexually assaulted by cast members while working on ER. Mexican actress and producer, Salma Hayek penned an Op-Ed for the New York Times about all the eerie and sexually inappropriate things she experienced from movie mogul, Harvey Weinstein during the filming of her 2002 Oscar-winning biopic Frida and the list goes on.
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"But why do so many of us, as female artists, have to go to war to tell our stories when we have so much to offer? Why do we have to fight tooth and nail to maintain our dignity? I think it is because we, as women, have been devalued artistically to an indecent state, to the point where the film industry stopped making an effort to find out what female audiences wanted to see and what stories we wanted to tell." – Salma Hayek ~ Women, what do we want to see? What stories of ourselves do we want to hear? (Read Salma's story @nytimes )
It’s horrific what women have had to endure in regards to sexism and assault and it’s important that we continue to have these dialogues and not lose the momentum that’s developed around these issues. Let’s not be silent, let’s continue to push these conversations forward, and let’s fight for change.