Zoe Saldana's response to anti-immigration hate is a must-read.

Zoe Saldana doesn't pull any punches in her latest interview with Latina magazine.

Can we talk about how much of a badass Zoe Saldana is?

The 37-year-old star of the upcoming Nina Simone biopic "Nina" recently talked about body positivity, being a mother, her marriage to Marco Perego-Saldana, and work-life balance with Latina magazine. And everything she had to say was ... yep, you guessed it: pretty badass.


But it was in response to questions about culture and immigration where Saldana really dug in.

She was born in New Jersey. At age 10, her family moved to the Dominican Republic. At 17, she returned to the U.S. to pursue her dreams of working in the entertainment industry. Growing up her whole life as the daughter of immigrants gives her a unique insight into the complexity of the immigrant experience in America. And she's not interested in beating around the bush.


Her response to people who are afraid of the "Latinization of America"? "Shut up and just deal with it," she says.

It's estimated that by 2044, the white population in the U.S. will — for the first time in the country's history — be in the minority. That is, there'll still be more white people than any other individual group, but collectively whites will make up less than 50% of the country.

This has some white people a little freaked out and feeling as though "our" country is being taken over by "others." But that's a load of nonsense.

Or as Saldana put it, "The only true American here is the Native American. Everyone else is a transplant. We're going through the exact same thing the Italians went through, the Irish, the Jews, and the Asians. In different ways, but it's been very similar."

The days of immigrant assimilation for the sake of the status quo have come to an end.

Culture has shifted away from shame of one's heritage. It's 2015, folks. You can be American while still embracing the culture of your country of origin.

"Latinos are overall very respectful," she said when asked about the evolution of Latino culture. "Once we started being discriminated against, we chose the high road: Keep quiet. Keep working. Don't teach our kids Spanish because we don't want them to get picked on." But after generations of keeping their heads down and trying to blend in with white American culture for so many years, Latinos are tired of feeling ashamed of their heritage.

"Now we're entering that phase where the first and the second generations are so in love with our ancestry and want to keep it alive in the best possible way."

On immigration, Saldana says, we need less rhetoric and more action; less vitriol and more compassion.

Those most affected by political gridlock are those who've become unwitting pawns in a game they never signed up for. Nowhere is this truer than on the topic of immigration, where rhetoric runs especially hot — from presidential candidates accusing people trying to immigrate to the U.S. of being criminals to legislators vowing not to take action reforming the system, things are rough.

The daughter of two immigrants, Saldana seems exhausted by the whole debate, saying, "I'm kind of embarrassed when you see all of these people talking [about immigration] on national television."

Hopefully, a day will come when politicians understand that we can't ignore 11 million undocumented immigrants.

And that starts by accepting the fact that what's happening today is no different than when so many of our relatives first came to the U.S. People are just trying to find a better life, and it's time we let them.

But if you choose not to acknowledge that, then maybe you need to follow Saldana's advice: "just shut up and deal with it."

Her full interview is available over at Latina magazine's website and is worth the read.

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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