Latino culture is "not going away," says Zoë Saldana, whose parents hail from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic

By Kathy Ehrich Dowd
Updated December 01, 2020 11:25 PM
Credit: Jerod Harris/Getty

Zoë Saldana is excited to see Latin culture growing in America – and she has a message for anyone who might not share in her enthusiasm.

“You can’t kill us. You can’t send us back,” she tells Latina for its December/January cover story. “We are millions and millions here because it is our time to migrate. We are the youngest culture. We are doing what your people did. So shut up and just deal with it.”

Saldana, 37, whose mother is Puerto Rican and whose late father hailed from the Dominican Republic, says her people are having a moment, and she hopes everyone will learn to embrace it, and fast.

“Adjust your laws, because it’s not going away,” she also says. “If anything, I want to give them a hug, and say, ‘It’s okay. It’s new. Don’t be scared. We’re great people. We’re gonna do great and better things for your country. Trust me.’ ”

Saldana, who explains she and husband Marco Perego speak to their nearly 1-year-old twin sons in a combination of Italian and Spanish, might come off as blunt – but don’t mistake it for rage.

“We’re not angry either,” she adds. “We’re a culture that isn’t angry.”

The Avatar actress also points out that the United States is a nation of immigrants – who all struggled when they first arrived here.

“The only true American here is the Native American,” she says. “Everyone else is a transplant. We’re going through the exact same thing the Italians went through, the Irish, the Jews, and the Asians. In different ways, but it’s been very similar.

“After a while, people acculturated, and they only found solace by literally accepting themselves and going, ‘Whatever. Esta soy yo.’ (This is me),” she says. “They were like, ‘This is my new country, but I’m going to keep this from my old, and I’m gonna blend it all.’ ”