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Zoe Saldana

As ‘Star Trek Beyond’ preps for takeoff, the much talked-about star talks ‘Gimme a Break,’ zombies, and not eating cheeseburgers

Say what you will about Zoe Saldana — and some of y’all have said a lot — she’s always going to keep it moving. Saldana is one of the most visible working black actresses. She’s one of the few women of color who can command a co-starring role in a major franchise such as Star Trek — as the iconic Nyota Uhura, lieutenant on the USS Enterprise. She commands a spot presenting at the Academy Awards, even when she’s not pushing a film. But she’s also regular folk. Strip the glamour all the way down, and Saldana easily shifts gears to playing couch commando while watching her favorite throwback sitcom. While her latest, Star Trek Beyond, opens on Friday, she still wanted to talk zombies, Pinterest and why Nell Harper is a personal hero of hers.

What’s the last show you binge-watched?

My twins are only 20 months old, so I talk about Sprout and all the shows on there! But when it comes to shows that I like to watch, Fear The Walking Dead was something that I got into last summer. It’s imaginative and different and it doesn’t … stimulate me so much so that it affects my day or my life. Right now my life is pretty busy as it is, so when I lay down, I want to be entertained — it’s my guilty pleasure.

What kind of films are you into?

I love adventures, love sci-fi, vampire movies, movies about immortality.

If you’re going to give me a film that reflects on our actual times, like a political message or a documentation of what we’re living through — because, you know, our filmmakers, they are the historians of our time — I like for it to be beautiful … you know? I don’t like war movies, but if you give me a movie or a show like Fear the Walking Dead, I’m going to enjoy it because sometimes I’m like, ‘Oh, my God, sometimes this world is a little backwards. I wonder what’s going to happen next? Like, zombies?’

‘We are in that place of Pinterest. Instead of doing something where I have to tell somebody, I want to do something I can just keep here with myself.’

What is your favorite throwback TV show?

Gimme a Break. I loved it. I loved what those little girls went through and what they represented and how they had to make their characters. I don’t remember the episodes where there were talks about race. What I do remember was how much pain I felt. At my tender age, I’ll never forget what her friend told her: ‘Nell, I’m dying.’ Do you remember that episode?

I do!

I think it’s the pilot. It’s like, What the f—?! Like, I have to be these girls’ mother?!’ It’s bigger than race, it’s bigger than whatever. It’s bigger than our friendship. It’s life.

It was a lot.

That show was really beautiful … I was going through a parallel experience. My father eventually lost his life, so I lived that one. I was second of those three little girls growing up in a one-parent environment and relying on the love of your aunts and your parents’ friends.

You have two little boys at home. Are you already putting them in athletic gear and grooming them to love a certain team?

If that’s what they wish to do. If I get the inclination in one direction that makes them happy. My duty and my husband’s duty is to help them nurture it until they realize, Yeah, I want to continue on this path. Or want to switch to this, or whatever. That’s what parents do. Besides directing, we’re also just assisting.

So no sports in your household just yet?

When it comes to sports right now, Bowie loves a soccer ball and he yells “goal!”

Do you play any sports to keep you in shape?

Lately — [I’m] just breathing a little because I just got off of a very long shoot. Before that, the twins were born. When they were 6 months old, I went to Vancouver to shoot Star Trek. I then jumped into Live by Night and then I went straight into Guardians of the Galaxy 2. I follow my instinct, and my body is fatigued, and so is my brain … I’m taking it easy.

What does that mean for you?

I’m treating myself with love. Not by eating cheeseburgers, but just giving my body a little bit of happiness. It makes you happy to have that little bit of chocolate, it makes you happy to eat that really big piece of steak. Have it with a salad of course, but drink water and as soon as you feel rested, then you gotta get back on that treadmill. That is who I am, I guess. I do have those moments.

What’s your primary social media tribe?

I think I’m learning to jump between all of them and — but when I’m doing it, I’m practicing empowering myself. Don’t feel like you have to do it. These are things that you should want to share because that’s what social media should be about, just sharing information, sharing moments. Sharing knowledge, sharing feelings … so Instagram, I guess? That’s what I would say because I keep going in to a visual thing. Instagram is definitely something that I enjoy and I — my husband and I just purchased a home, so we are in that place of Pinterest. Instead of doing something where I have to tell somebody, I want to do something I can just keep here with myself. Let me see pictures. Let me like them. So, Pinterest and Instagram lately.

What will you always be a champion of?

I will always be a champion of education. Education is primordial to a human being’s quality of life. And that education doesn’t have to come through European ways of academia. Education is just growing. That’s what it primarily means: to grow, to learn something new. Learn how it works, learn how it happens, learn why it happens. Not so much the ‘why,’ but more ‘how is this,’ [and] ‘where is this.’ You know? Sometimes it’s subjective.

Kelley L. Carter is a senior entertainment reporter and the host of Another Act at Andscape. She can act out every episode of the U.S. version of The Office, she can and will sing the Michigan State University fight song on command and she is very much immune to Hollywood hotness.