With breakout performances in popular sci-fi films and a thriving film production company, Zoe Saldaña is the real deal. Along with her two sisters, Saldaña talks with emmy about telling stories that reflect their lives and portray the world as it really is. The award-winning official publication of the Television Academy is on newsstands Aug. 12.
In December 2018, Saldaña had no idea why Reese Witherspoon focused so intently on her during a couples' dinner party. But a few days later, Witherspoon sent her a text. "She said, 'I shouldn't be telling you this, but I think you're so right for the part,'" recalls Saldaña. The part was the lead in Witherspoon's limited-series adaptation of Tembi Locke's forthcoming book "From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily and Finding Home."
"I come from a culture that is very superstitious," says Saldaña, acknowledging she was initially hesitant. But after reading the manuscript, she was intrigued by its original shift in perspective—a tale of grief from the caretaker's side—and by its narrative of mourning a loved one while in a foreign land. Saldaña tells emmy about losing her father as a child and being sent from the U.S. to the Dominican Republic to live with her grandparents. Locke's story—an American in Italy grieving the death of her husband—struck a chord with the actress, capturing the feelings of disbelief, pain and grief. "It was all those things that Tembi wrote about but [that I viewed] through a childlike lens."
Excited by the material, Saldaña signed on to star and executive produce From Scratch along with Cinestar, the production company she runs with her sisters, Mariel and Cisely. In "Sister Act," the siblings talk with emmy about growing up with the TV as their babysitter, an experience that lacked a personal connection. Cisely explains, "The thing we missed was representation, seeing people that looked like us on TV." Growing up, the sisters knew they would one day produce shows they wanted to see, and eventually created Cinestar with a slate of "unapologetically female" content.
When a CAA agent contacted Cinestar about Gordita Chronicles—a story about a 12-year-old who immigrates with her family from the Dominican Republic to Miami—it was a perfect fit. Saldaña brought together a team of Latina women to tell the family's story authentically. As director Eva Longoria Baston explains, "When there was anyone who disagreed [with us], it was hard to penetrate our Latina bubble." All 10 episodes of Gordita Chronicles are now streaming on HBO Max.
As a wife, mother, performer, and producer, Saldaña is accustomed to being busy. With From Scratch debuting on Netflix Oct. 21, David O. Russell's Amsterdam hitting theaters in November, and Avatar: The Way of Water set for a December release, she is now jumping into Lioness, a Paramount+ series with Nicole Kidman. But no matter how busy she gets, Saldaña stays focused on her goal. "We want to tell stories of women. Women of color, queer women, special-needs women, women who live outside the conventional norm of what is American. It's all about inclusivity."
Additional feature highlights from the new issue include:
- Since South Park premiered on Comedy Central Aug. 13, 1997, it's been a ratings juggernaut and earned five Emmys and a Peabody. In "Whateva!," creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker sit down with emmy in celebration of the animated hit's 25th anniversary and share their 25 favorite episodes, one from each season.
- In "Driving Force," emmy talks with Charlie Collier, the former cable executive who is now the CEO of Fox Entertainment, about "the power of broadcast" and his desire to create a launching pad that helps build brands and businesses.
- Bill Nye, best known as "The Science Guy," is back with a new series. In "Bill Nye Shows 'Em Why," the educator and host talks with emmy about his six-part science-adventure anthology The End Is Nye and how he's hoping to scare viewers into action.
Emmy, the official publication of the Television Academy, goes behind the scenes of the industry for a unique insider's view. It showcases the scope of television and profiles the people who make TV happen, from the stars of top shows to the pros behind the cameras, covering programming trends and advances in technology. Honored consistently for excellence, emmy is a six-time Maggie Award winner as Best Trade Publication in Communications or the Arts and has collected 52 Maggies from the Western Publishing Association. Emmy is published 12 times per year and is available on selected newsstands and at TelevisionAcademy.com for single print and digital copies as well as subscriptions.
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