EXCLUSIVE: Tight Jeans, Red Lips & Zoe Saldana’s Unstoppable Swagger
Do you remember a time in your youth where you felt different than every other human? No matter who you are it’s a part of life that comes with the territory of growing up. Zoe Saldana addresses this outsider “alien” feeling in her a directorial role with Glamour Reel Moments. Her emotionally moving short film “KAyLien” touches on autism and the notion that ‘patience is love’ while trailing a young girl’s social struggles. Glamour Reel Moments aims to empower women by giving female actresses the opportunity to go behind the camera to bring a reader’s story to life. MyFDB recently talked with Zoe about this empowering project and what it was like to be in the director’s chair.
MyFDB: Given Glamour Reel Moments are derived from reader submissions, what inspired you about this particular life story to create the “KAyLien” character and script?
ZS: What inspired me was my niece, who is 8 years old and this past school year she was getting bullied in school. Then there was a letter that one of the readers submitted and we chose it because it related to a topic that’s very close to my family and my heart, and that’s autism. My ballet teacher, who’s like my second mom, [has a] son with autism and we’ve gotten to witness what it’s like to care for a child with that condition, but also see the child living in a world that’s completely different…So that inspired all of that.
MyFDB: Were there any pivotal moments or scenes on set where you were emotionally moved? And given the emotion with the story line, what are you hoping viewers will take way from this short?
ZS: There were moments. My friend Frankie Flowers, who is my best friend and my colleague, he’s the one that wrote the short. Frankie and I wanted to truly have the characters of the parents involved in this child’s life. So when we got the actors, Bradley Cooper, Malin Ackerman along with Kelli Barksdale (the actress that played KAyLien), they were in the kitchen as a family and even though they were tending to a child that’s different, she’s not affectionate to them and she’s quiet, they still loved their child and they’re still just as excited for her first day of school as they would be with any other child. That to me was very emotional. That’s what I feel when I see parents that have children with autism or any other disability, they still love their child and they enjoy their child so much.
MyFDB: How did you prepare to step behind the camera? Did you find yourself referencing the techniques of other directors you’ve worked with in the past?
ZS: Oh Absolutely! I was referencing a bunch of things I’ve worked with and other directors on their projects, like motion capture, prosthetics, stunts, and all these things that I wanted to incorporate. And even though I love films that are very dramatic and have sort of an emotional tone, I like it when it involves action and fiction. And that’s what I did; I stayed true to what I love about film making. It was a lot of work. It was creating the alien look, the color of the alien skin, would she have teeth or not because we planned on adding some special effects to the piece, and rehearsing a stunt. Helping the actor while she climbed the tree. It was three hectic days, but it was so awesome.
MyFDB: The Glamour project is known for launching directorial debuts (17 to date) and since this your first, do you plan on pursuing other opportunities behind the camera?
ZS: Actually this was my second, I co-directed three episodes of an internet series called “The Ropes” with my sister Cisely. So I got my feet wet for the very first time earlier this year and then when the Glamour opportunity came along I jumped on it and she jumped on as the producer, which I was really elated about.
MyFDB: Oh, that’s cool. It’s nice there’s a family dynamic.
ZS: Well yeah, I feel as a half when I create. Obviously I have a great support system of friends and family, but when it comes to the end of the day collaboration and synchronicity, I have it with my sister Cisely. And that’s what we want to be, we want to be the first sister team of directors. There aren’t any, you have [brothers like] the Cohens, but you don’t have any sisters that direct. We are looking to get that done.
MyFDB: Given male directors are more prevalent in the film industry, what message do you think Glamour Reel Moments is sending to those females aspiring to be apart of it?
ZS: It’s such a strong and inspiring message of shedding light on topics that you need to be addressed and also giving women the opportunity to express their artistic voice. In reality, the shorts are inspired by readers that submit their own personal experiences. It’s also giving the readers of Glamour magazine the opportunity to basically free themselves by sharing with the world their experiences, and for us to showcase that in a film is really rewarding.
MyFDB: Lastly, since we are a fashion company, so we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t ask you what your attire was like on set?
ZS: It was very androgynous (pictured left). There were a lot of button-down shirts, boots and jeans. I wanted to be really comfortable. We were shooting in very hot weather, so it was about covering up. My sister and I were covering up with long sleeves, linen and cotton, hats, sunblock, but we had our bright red lipstick on.
MyFDB: Nice, that’s the perfect touch!
ZS: That’s one thing I would like to incorporate more of and I would like to see more female directors, producers, and filmmakers not hide their femininity, not hide their beauty just because they are working in a world that’s primarily known to be a man’s world. Don’t feel like you have to look like a man and purposely make yourself unattractive just so you can be respected and acknowledged. I say, “Show your tits! Showcase your ass, have your swagger and look drop-dead gorgeous if that’s what you want!” And still be actively commanding and have power. So yes, my jeans were tight and my lipstick was red! So was Cisely’s and we had such a blast!
Amazing and we couldn’t agree more; you can still be who you are confidently while also having power and commanding a room. Zoe’s “KAyLien” short for Glamour Reel Moments is set to premiere this October and will be available for free online (MyFDB will keep you updated on the release). Until then congratulations to Zoe on a job well done!
[UPDATE] — You can watch Zoe’s short, “KAyLien” here.
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Zoe Yadira Saldana was born June 19, 1978 in Passaic NJ. Her family relocated to the Dominican Republic when she was ten years old. There, she practiced ballet at one of the most pretigious dance schools in the country. Saldana returned to New York at age 17, where she im... Read more >>