While many actors and actresses are nowhere near as beguiling as the roles they play, Zoe Saldana—who graces our August 2014 cover—cannot be counted as one of them. Known for nailing roles such as the wildcat Prima Donna of Center Stage, a warrior-princess named Neytiri in Avatar, and Star Trek’s fiercest Lieutenant, Nyota Uhura, Saldana’s is just-as omnipotent off screen. Arriving in L.A.’s Milk Studio for her shoot, alongside her trusted Toto-from-Oz looking dog, Mugsy (who actually tried to pull focus and ran in front of her a couple of times whilst the photographer was snapping), the former dancer-turned-actress/producer twirled, sang and joked during the entire day on set. After busting into Alvin Ailey style choreography and hitting a few Beyoncé high notes while posing for the camera, Saldana sat down with FASHION’s features editor, Elio Iannacci, to chat about the next couple of flicks, which include the next installments to Star Trek, Avatar as well as two new badass roles in Guardians of The Galaxy (as alien martial arts master, Gamora) and Nina, a biopic of civil rights singer/musician Nina Simone, aka the legendary High Priestess of Soul.
On her view of competition in Hollywood:
“I was a ferocious dancer so therefore I was a ferocious up-and-coming actress. When it comes to auditions, I’m not competitive with anybody. I don’t even know who’s sitting next to me. I wouldn’t even tell you if it was a blonde or brunette. The moment you compare yourself, it weakens you.”
On her marriage to artist Marco Perago after her break up with Bradley Cooper:
“I was finally able to spend time without being in a relationship and even though, it was a short period of time, it was beautiful. Where I lost that fear of being alone. It was bliss. Then I met my partner when I was in really a beautiful place in my life. It was like I found all my answers with him not in him. I was finding my answers on my own.”
On what her role in the next Avatar will be like:
“[Neytiri] is stronger than what I wanted this time, but she’s also very vulnerable. It’s very much her journey and I accepted the job again because I believe the script has her going in the right path. Jake and Neytiri are very much still a force to be reckoned with.”
On the best advice a woman can get:
“It’s important to not have women be afraid of you, to accept your mortality and your aging so that you can be a better mentor for up and coming women. Whenever these young women come and they just want to take everything all at once, just because they’re younger and their asses are harder and plumper, you kind of go, ‘Child, sit down. Yes, you’re beautiful but listen to these 1, 2, 3s.’ 1. Don’t hike up your skirt too much. 2. I’m pretty sure you’re intelligent so act like it. 3. Read a book.”
To read our cover story, pick up the FASHION Magazine August 2014 issue starring Zoe Saldana, available on newsstands July 14, 2014.