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Zoe Saldaña Says Former Manager ‘Discouraged’ Her From Using Real Name on First Film

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 24: Actress Zoe Saldana arrives for the NALIP 2017 Latino Media Awards at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center on June 24, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Greg Doherty/WireImage)

Zoe Saldaña revealed in a new interview with Entertainment Weekly that her former management team “discouraged” her from using her real name once she landed her first major acting role in the 2000 teen drama “Center Stage.” The actor stressed that her team was not trying to be malicious at the time. Saldaña starred in the Nicholas Hytner-directed drama as Eva Rodriguez, a smart aleck dancer from Boston. The “Center Stage” ensemble cast also included Amanda Schull, Susan May Pratt, Peter Gallagher, Donna Murphy and Ethan Stiefel.

“When I did [2000 film] ‘Center Stage,’ I remember being discouraged by my management at that time to use my name,” Saldaña said, “but their intention was never for me to stop being who I was. They celebrated who I was. But my manager at the time was a former singer and a ballroom performer, and she did change her name as well, when she was a teenager back in the 1960s, I believe. And she said it’s what everybody does.”

Saldaña noted that giving that advice in today’s Hollywood landscape would be in poor taste, adding, “That was her doing the best that she wanted for me, but I still knew that I liked my name.”

While “Center Stage” marked her debut movie role, it wasn’t until the consecutive releases of “Crossroads,” “Drumline” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” that Saldaña started to become a more familiar face in Hollywood. The actor landed her first major studio franchises in 2009 with “Star Trek,” in which J.J. Abrams cast her as Uhura, and James Cameron’s “Avatar,” which became one of the highest-grossing films in history. Saldaña’s signature role is Gamora in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She’s set to reprise the character in James Gunn’s upcoming “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.”

Saldaña currently stars opposite Ryan Reynolds and Mark Ruffalo in “The Adam Project,” now streaming on Netflix.

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