Hollywood is full of blockbuster celebrities and entertainers of Lebanese descent – some of which you would have never guessed were Lebanese. As the Lebanese diaspora has generated a plethora of different estimates on numbers throughout its exhaustive history, we try to do the best we can in the areas of digging up some of the most successful Lebanese out there.
This American actress of Lebanese and Haitian descent, due to her appearances in some of the highest-grossing films of all time, such as Avatar and Avengers: Endgame, is the second-highest-grossing film actress of all time, as of 2019. Her films have collectively grossed more than $11 billion worldwide.
Saldana was born on June 19, 1978, in Passaic, New Jersey to a Dominican father, Aridio Saldaña, and Puerto Rican mother Asalia Nazario, both come from a long line of immigrants of Lebanese and Haitian descent respectively.
On her mixed racial identity, Saldana stated, “There’s no one way to be black. I’m black the way I know how to be.” She spent the majority of her early childhood growing up in Jackson Heights, New York. She was raised bilingual, speaking English and Spanish.
Saldana discovered her love of dance in the Dominican Republic, after moving there with her mother at the age of nine following her father’s sudden death. She enrolled in the ECOS Espacio de Danza Academy and studied various forms of dance, but she describes ballet as her first passion.
She told Vanity Fair that she quit ballet because she did not “have the feet” and had too much pride and ambition to just be in the corps de ballet.
The family returned to New York after her sophomore year in high school. In 1995, she began performing with the Faces theater group in Brooklyn, which plays geared toward providing positive messages for teens via themes dealing with issues such as substance abuse and adolescent sexuality.
Concurrently, she performed with the New York Youth Theater; her appearance in their production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat led a talent agency to recruit her, and again, the rest is history.
After considerable roles alongside big Hollywood actors in big pictures such as Crossroads (2002), Drumline (2002), Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), and Star Trek (2009), Saldana was able to cement herself as one of the biggest names in Hollywood, as well as one of its highest-paid actresses.
Saldana’s second high-profile film in 2009 was James Cameron’s Avatar. It grossed $2.7 billion worldwide to become the highest-grossing film of all time. In 2013, Saldana reprised her role as Uhura in Star Trek Into Darkness, the sequel to the Star Trek reboot.
Like the previous film, it was a box office success, ending its North American theatrical run with a box office total of $228,778,661.- which placed it as the 11th highest-grossing film for 2013. It also earned $467,365,246 worldwide, ranking in 14th place for 2013, and becoming the highest-grossing film of the franchise.
In 2014, Saldana played Gamora in the hit film Guardians of the Galaxy. The film became the third highest-grossing film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, behind The Avengers and Iron Man3. It was the third highest-grossing 2014 film (behind Transformers: Age of Extinction and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies), and the highest-grossing superhero film of 2014.
The film was met with positive reviews and Saldana was nominated for numerous awards, including Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Actress in an Action Movie, Favorite Action Movie Actress at the People’s Choice Awards, and Best On-Screen Transformation at the MTV Movie Awards.
Saldana returned as Gamora in the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), and went on to again reprise the role in the sequel Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and in Avengers: Endgame, which was released in April 2019.
In 2018, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, honoring her legacy in the motion picture industry. She is expected to reprise her role as Neytiri in the sequels Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 which will release in 2021 and 2023 respectively.