Zoë Saldana on Raising Multicultural Children

Actress Zoë Saldana is immersing her twin boys in two cultures, through language, music, and lots of dancing!

zoe saldana 2015 in balck and white dress Helga Esteb/Shutterstock
Zoë Saldana is known for playing feminine-yet-kick-ass characters on screen, such as Neytiri in 2009's Avatar, Gamora in 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy and Uhura in the upcoming Star Trek Beyond. There's a good reason for that: "I like to defy the gravity that has been established for me—for being a woman, a woman of color, a Latina who is a first-generation American," Saldana says. "The moment I feel there’s an obstacle, I want to break through it!"

Now that she's a mom, Saldana is instilling the same spirit in her twin boys, Cy Aridio Perego-Saldana and Bowie Ezio Perego-Saldana, whom she shares with husband and artist Marco Perego. We sat down with Saldana to get her take on raising kids in a Latino-Italian household.

Parents Latina: Has having kids affected your career choices?

Zoë Saldana: Being a mom has made me hungrier. I want to do my best because I want my children to see that. Working moms are persecuted to this day. I don’t want to be one of those women who loses sight of the dreams that she had as a little girl. I just have to learn how to manage my time better, because once you’re a parent, time becomes your biggest luxury. 

PL: Do you and your husband, Marco, always agree on how you should parent?

ZS: There is an unspoken language of how to deal with things. We try really hard to be a good team in front of the boys. But if one of us is snippy—which is usually me—then that person is put on time-out. I go to the bedroom and just lie there with my eyes open, inhaling and exhaling till I calm down. 

PL: You’re Dominican while Marco is Italian—are there parts of your cultures that you aren’t going to incorporate into their upbringing?

ZS: We come from cultures that are very strict, firm, and disciplined. It’s about raising the most eloquent, sturdy, and respectful kid. We couldn’t care less about that right now. We don’t want our kids to be too mindful of others so quickly. We want others to be mindful of our kids. They are here, this is their space, let them be who they are. Then little by little, if they hit or bite, we will start tweaking.

PL: You’re raising your boys with Spanish and Italian at home. Do they ever get confused?

ZS: No. When Marco is with his sons, he speaks only Italian. When I am with them, I use only Spanish, so there is one source for each. They’ll learn English in school!

PL: Latinos and Italians love music and dancing. Is your house one big party?

ZS: If we’re not singing to opera at the dinner table, then we are dancing salsa, merengue, reggaeton, and bachata. It’s so funny that we have a son named Bowie, but Cy is actually the musical one. They have rhythm, I’ve made sure of it. I’m, like, “You can’t be Latino and not know how to dance. ”