Exclusive Interview: Zoe Saldana Talks About Indigenous Children

Last week, we had the incredible opportunity to get an exclusive interview with Zoe Saldana to talk about representation of indigenous characters in film. Saldana has become a beacon of hope for many young girls of color, who rarely get to see someone who resembles them in films and television. This interview was especially important for my correspondent / daughter Clarissa. As a young girl, she often felt ostracized because of her golden brown skin, and Spanish / indigenous heritage, as she grew up in a predominant Caucasian area. Now that she is coming into adulthood, we both feel that it is important to address the lack of representation in the cinematic world.

We shared a heartfelt moment and tears began to flow with Zoe as we discussed her Netflix’s NEW limited series, “Maya and the Three.

MAYA AND THE THREE – Coming to Netflix October 22! 

Disclosure: Thank you Netflix for partnering for this interview for “Maya and the
Three.” All opinions are my own.

Watch the trailer here.

Synopsis:

In a fantastical world, where magic turns the world and four kingdoms rule the lands, a brave and rebellious warrior princess named Maya is about to celebrate her fifteenth birthday and coronation. But everything changes when the gods of the underworld arrive and announce that Maya’s life is forfeit to the God of War — a price she must pay for her family’s secret past. If Maya refuses, the whole world will suffer the gods’ vengeance. To save her beloved family, her friends, and her own life, Maya embarks on a thrilling quest to fulfill an ancient prophecy that foretells the coming of three great warriors who will help her defeat the gods and save humankind.

From creator Jorge R. Gutiérrez (EL TIGRE, THE BOOK OF LIFE), MAYA AND THE THREE is a Netflix Animated Event told in nine epic chapters. Set in a fictional fantasy world, MAYA AND THE THREE is an adventure full of heart and humor, inspired by a rich, vibrant mixture of Aztec, Maya, and Inca mythology, and modern-day Caribbean culture.

We are absolutely thrilled to see that Maya’s character is natural leader who is fearless, strong, and a of indigenous blood. We also also excited that some of our favorite celebs like Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, Rita Moreno and Gabriel Iglesias will be part of this incredible series! We appreciate Jorge R. Gutierrez’s commitment in making people of color visible in the world of cinematography.

MAYA AND THE THREE (L to R) STEPHANIE BEATRIZ as CHIMI, GABRIEL IGLESIAS as PICCHU and ALLEN MALDONADO as RICO in MAYA AND THE THREE Cr. NETFLIX © 2021

Official Interview Transcript

Blogger:  Hi, Zoe. My name is Clarissa Saldana (sp), and I am with (unintelligible)–.

Zoe Saldana:  –Oh–.

Blogger:  –Dot com. Yes, I was actually just on avail for Danny in Gordita Chronicles, so I met your beautiful sisters. They were amazing. 

Zoe Saldana:  Oh, my God. That would have been great, to have so many Saldanas in the room.   

Blogger:  Right. I don’t if that’s–that was my first thought. 

But my question is, considering indigenous characters only make up to 0.4 percent of characters portrayed in film and television, what do you hope indigenous children will take away from your character, Maya?

Zoe Saldana:  That they are beautiful and that they are meant to be. I get emotional because this is something that–it’s just it’s important for children of color, you know, that they matter, that their stories matter, that their history matters, and that nobody has to give you that anymore. It’s yours. It’s always been yours. 

And I think it’s up to us–we also have a lot of power. I feel like a lot of time is spent sometimes pointing the finger and not enough time is spent investing on our communities ourselves, like on our education, uplifting each other so that, once we rise to these positions of leadership, then we become those gatekeepers. And we are in that journey. America is about to witness a beautiful renaissance, and obviously that takes time, unfortunately. But we’re on it already. We’re on it and we just have to stay the course.  

Your job as journalists and mothers as well is to hold everybody accountable. You all have to watch this. It is on us. We have to. We can’t just–your time and your money is the power and the validation that we give to all the content that blatantly omits us from their narrative. We are the ones that have perpetuated this. Please understand that when it comes to studios, they’re not just the bad cops. We have been the bad cops as well. 

But when you say you will no longer take my time, you will no longer take my money, I don’t have to watch you ’cause I’m going to spend all of who I am promoting and amplifying and, you know, growing this community, this visibility, that’s when all the studios and all those executives are going to be like, “Oh, we gotta chase the money where it’s going.” It’s–you–we have to be pragmatic about this. 

They’re just giving us what we’re giving back to them. Take it away, and you’ll see how the narrative immediately in America changes. We are a nation of capitalism. You don’t hit them in the heart. You hit them in the pocket. That’s all I’m going to say. Come on now. We gotta be pragmatic about this. 

Blogger:  Thank you so much for making something that my–or helping or being part of something that my children can identify with as the (unintelligible). It’s amazing. 

Zoe Saldana:  Thank you. I’m honored.  

MAYA AND THE THREE (L to R) ALLEN MALDONADO as RICO, ZOE SALDAÑA as PRINCESS MAYA, DEE BRADLEY BAKER as CHIAPA and STEPHANIE BEATRIZ as CHIMI in MAYA AND THE THREE Cr. NETFLIX © 2021

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