Zoe Saldana, an American actress known for her roles in major science fiction film franchises, has starred in four of the highest-grossing films ever: “Avatar,” “Avatar: The Way of Water,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” and “Avengers: Endgame.” Her films have grossed over $14 billion globally. As of 2023, she is the second-highest-grossing film actress in leading roles and the highest-grossing actress overall, including non-leading roles. In 2023, Time magazine named her one of the world’s 100 most influential people.
Saldana was born on June 19, 1978, in Passaic, New Jersey. Her parents are Aridio Saldana, who is Dominican, and Asalia Nazario, a Dominican with partial Puerto Rican ancestry. Nazario lived in the Dominican Republic with her mother but immigrated to New York due to political unrest. Her father died in a vehicle crash when Saldana was nine. Her mother sent Saldana to the Dominican Republic to live with their late father’s family, while she stayed in New York to work and afford private school for the girls. The girls’ widowed mother later married Dagoberto Galan, who became their stepfather and whom they consider their father.
Regarding her racial identity, Saldana has said, “There’s no one way to be Black. I’m Black the way I know how to be.”
Saldana is not just a screen goddess and record-breaking actress; she is also an astute enterpreneur and investor.
Billionaire Africa highlights the businesses that Saldana founded and invested in over the years below:
1. Cinestar Pictures
Saldana established Cinestar Pictures with her sister in 2006. They co-founded the company to design and produce content that broadens the American narrative through diverse, character-centric stories, with a steadfast commitment to excellence as a guiding principle.
Cinestar Pictures has made significant strides in the entertainment industry with several acclaimed projects. A standout among them is the animated space opera “Dark Star Squadron,” a collaborative effort with Crunchyroll, a streaming platform with over 5 million subscribers. The company’s portfolio also includes an array of diverse projects, such as the compelling series “From Scratch,” the culturally rich “The Gordita Chronicles,” the introspective feature film “Keyhole Garden,” the classic “Rosemary’s Baby,” and the innovative digital series for America Online.
The inception of Cinestar Pictures was fueled by Saldana and her sisters’ profound passion for storytelling. Their vision for the company is to forge a brand that authentically represents a variety of narratives, with a particular focus on amplifying the voices and experiences of women. This commitment is evident in their choice of projects, each chosen to broaden perspectives and enrich the cultural dialogue.
BESE zeroes in on the Latino demographic, a group often overlooked in the U.S. media landscape. Despite being one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups, Latinos are significantly underrepresented in the media industry. They account for a mere 4% of newsroom personnel and less than 2% of newsroom producers. Moreover, Latino representation in news media coverage is less than 1%, frequently cast in a negative light.
BESE, under Saldana’s leadership, is dedicated to altering perceptions and motivating audiences by highlighting the contributions of influential American personalities, both historical and contemporary. The platform is especially geared towards engaging Gen Z and millennial viewers.
The platform’s objective is to produce genuine, top-tier content that seamlessly weaves Latino experiences and perspectives into the broader American cultural narrative. BESE debuted with video productions and a series of short films, including “Point by Point,” which profiles up-and-coming athletes, and “Hidden Figuras.” The latter, drawing inspiration from the movie “Hidden Figures,” focuses on individuals who have made remarkable, yet previously unrecognized, contributions.
BESE’s team of investors and advisors boasts notable figures such as Monica Lozano, ex-editor, publisher, and CEO of La Opinion and its parent company ImpreMedia, who now serves on the boards of Bank of America, Target Corporation, and The Rockefeller Foundation. Kevin Yorn, a founding partner and managing partner of Morris Yorn, also plays a key advisory role.
Saldana was one of the over 60 celebrities from various industries who invested in MoonPay as part of its $555 million Series A funding round. MoonPay, a leading global crypto payments infrastructure firm, received a total of $87 million from these investments.
This infusion of capital has been pivotal in accelerating MoonPay’s expansion and cementing its impressive $3.4 billion valuation. The company is known for its innovative payment infrastructure, which seamlessly bridges the gap between fiat currencies and cryptocurrencies, allowing for exchanges through conventional payment methods.
4. Thrive Market
Saldana alongside trailblazing personalities such as John Legend and Sofia Vergara, is an investor in Thrive Market. Thrive Market is an American e-commerce membership-based retailer tapping into consumers’ growing desire for healthier food and organic products.
Thrive Market has approximately 1.2 million paying members. In 2022, the company brought in nearly $500 million, this shows the company’s growth and success in the online, subscription-based marketplace for organic and healthy groceries.
Saldana invested in Happiest Baby, a company focused on helping parents raise healthy, happy children. Her investment was part of a $23-million Series-B funding round in 2018.
Happiest Baby is known for its innovative baby products, including the SNOO Smart Sleeper. The SNOO is a smart bassinet that promotes sleep and soothes babies with gentle rocking and white noise. It’s the first medical device authorized by the FDA for keeping sleeping babies safely on their backs, which helps reduce the risk of SIDS/SUID. Happiest Baby also offers products like Sleepea Swaddles and various accessories for babies and parents.