Actress Zoe Saldaña has quietly become one of Hollywood's biggest heroines, starring in three major blockbuster franchises in the last few years: "Avatar", "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Star Trek."
Star Trek's third installment, "Star Trek Beyond," hits theaters July 22nd.
I’ve had amazing role models, from Salma Hayek to Penelope Cruz to Jennifer Lopez. They teach me so much on how to be a better woman, a better spokesperson for my community.
- Zoe Saldaña, actress
But the half-Puerto Rican, half-Dominican actress doesn’t like to take full credit for being one of just a bunch of Latinas in such a position today.
"I have so many colleagues in this business that have been here before me,” said Saldaña to Fox News Latino recently. “I’ve had amazing role models, from Salma Hayek to Penelope Cruz to Jennifer Lopez. They teach me so much on how to be a better woman, a better spokesperson for my community.”
Although Saldaña is very proud of her heritage, she says: "I don’t consciously live a Latin life. I just live a life and I happen to be of Latin descent. Those are two different approaches of how to be Latino.”
“I was raised to be gentle, to be well educated, to respect others, to want to acquire wisdom, to learn, to grow, to work," she added.
Saldaña said she is raising her 18-month-old twin boys Cy and Bowie to be proud of their roots — and she is teaching them Spanish.
Motherhood is a new role for the 38-year-old talent, but it’s not slowing her down. Only months after giving birth, she started filming "Star Trek Beyond."
“My kids were 6 months old,” she said. “[I was] exhausted, but super happy in my relationship.”
She is still happily married to Marco Perego, her husband of three years, but her on-screen relationship with love interest Spock (Zachary Quinto) reaches a downward spiral in "Beyond."
“They work together, so it’s a very professional, mature breakup. They’ve been on a five-year mission, and even though they’re tired and extremely homesick they decide to put the mission first and not put stress on their crewmates,” said Saldaña.
In the new "Star Trek," Saldaña reprises her role as Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, and the movie also introduces a new villain, “Krall,” played by Idris Elba.
The Starship Enterprise is completely destroyed, which strands the crew on an unexplored dangerous alien planet called Altamid. They don’t even know if the rest of the crew is alive, so that forces them to relearn the value of love and the respect they have for their crewmates.
“There are so many things happening in the film — for us as a team, as a union, being affected, being challenged to the utmost level, where our lives are threatened, and you’re separated from each other, and now you have to find a way to find each other, I feel that that's the biggest task they have to overcome," she told FNL.
She is joined by the actors of the first two installments of the franchise reboot, including Chris Pine (Kirk), Karl Urban (Bones), John Cho (Sulu), Simon Pegg (Scotty) and Anton Yelchin (Chekov), who died tragically last month at age 27.
Saldaña said Yelchin's sudden death is still difficult to grasp.
“It's inconceivable, it's something that is hard to digest, it hasn’t been a month yet, so it's very fresh for me to talk about it, he’s somebody we all deeply loved," she said. “I know that I'm here for him [Anton], and so is everybody else that’s a part of Star Trek."
"Star Trek Beyond" is rated PG-13.
Naibe Reynoso is a freelance reporter from Los Angeles, California. Follow her @naibereynoso