Against types

Avengers’ Zoe Saldana on raising her 3 sons in a gender-neutral environment

Zoe Saldana attends The 2019 Met Gala 'Celebrating Camp: Notes on Fashion' at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 06, 2019 in New York City. (Theo Wargo/WireImage)

As a green-skinned alien in the blockbuster movie Avengers: Endgame, actress Zoe Saldana hopes she can promote a clear message – that time’s up on old-fashioned female stereotypes.

Saldana, who also starred as Neytiri in the 2009 box office smash hit Avatar and in Star Trek, said she does not like being characterized by her race or sex and is raising her children in a gender-neutral environment.

“I’m not actively playing a strong woman, I’m just playing a whole woman versus something that is just there to be objectified and fill in all the boring spaces in a movie that come from a weak storyline,” she said.

“When I go for a job, or I start a business or I make a decision, it has never been because I’m a woman or because I’m a person of color. It is because I’m a human, I’m a voter, I’m a taxpayer, I’m a human being and because I matter.”

Walt Disney Co’s Marvel Studios — which made the Avengers films — has beefed up women’s roles in its movies, winning praise for its first female-led superhero movie Captain Marvel.

“Women are so relevant in life, and in all places, that the logical thing to do is to capture them accurately and build them accurately,” said Saldana, who was speaking at Chivas Venture, a social entrepreneurship competition in Amsterdam.

Saldana’s desire to improve women’s equality starts at home, where she has decided to bring up her three young sons in a gender neutral environment.

Honoree Zoe Saldana, Marco Perego, and children at the Zoe Saldana Walk Of Fame Star Ceremony on May 3, 2018 in Hollywood, California. Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

“What my husband and I are actively learning every day and practicing is how to not run a household like it’s a matriarchy or a patriarchy,” said Saldana, 40, who is married to Italian artist, Marco Perego-Saldana, who took her surname.

She said this involves sharing household duties equally and dismantling any stereotypes, such as mothers as more stern or fathers as more fun, because this creates an “imbalanced perception” that children carry throughout their lives.

Born in New Jersey to a Puerto Rican mother and Dominican father, Saldana also wants to tell the stories of Latinos and other underrepresented groups in the media through her business Bese, a digital media platform launched in 2018.

“We are creating content that is American content but we are broadening that narrative … and accepting and celebrating the diversity that comes from being a nation that is built on immigration,” she said.

(Reporting by Sarah Shearman @Shearmans. Editing by Katy Migiro, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking and slavery, property rights, social innovation, resilience and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org to see more stories.)

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