Zoe Saldaña is looking back at a difficult time in her life.
The Guardians of the Galaxy star opened up about how the 1987 passing of her dad, Aridio Saldaña, affected her as a child. In an exclusive sneak peek of her cover story for emmy magazine, out on newsstands Aug. 16, the 44-year-old recalled how her grandmother broke the devastating news that the patriarch had been killed in a car accident.
"I remember her drinking coffee and saying, 'We're going to get through this,'" she said. "'Papa wants us to get through this. But please understand this part of life: death came knocking and took one of us.'"
After Aridio's passing, Zoe and her family moved from New York to the Dominican Republic, where everything was "always new and changing, changing, changing."
"There's no winter, no Santa Claus, no grapes or apples—it's mango and guavas," she explained. "These sound like small things, but they add up in a day. It was hard."
She added, "I've always felt like an alien in my own skin. It's like I'm on the outside looking in, and I really started to feel it after we lost our dad."
For Zoe, she tapped into that grief and sadness when it came time to prepare for her role in From Scratch, the upcoming Netflix series adapted from Tembi Locke's memoir of the same name. "It was all of those things that Tembi wrote about, but [viewed] through a childlike lens," she said. "Losing our hero, the strongest person in the room, who walked on water, and then seeing how our gorgeous, strong mom just fell apart and couldn't get out of bed to take us to school."
The book, centered around Tembe's personal experience in dealing with her husband's untimely death, also captured the attention of Reese Witherspoon, who serves as an executive producer alongside Zoe for its onscreen adaptation. Describing the project as "a journey of a woman who dared to dream bigger than what her destiny predicted," Zoe said in a behind-the-scenes video of her emmy cover shoot that the Oscar winner was the first to tip her off to this "important" piece of work.
"I read it and I couldn't put it down," Zoe said, calling herself an "avid reader" who loves "devouring books."
And as mom to three boys—twins Bowie and Cy, 7, and Zen, 5—who "can wipe their butts, go to bed and sleep a full night and eat their veggies," the actress added that she now has time to actually dive into a good book. She quipped with a laugh, "I like it!"
Zoe's issue of emmy magazine is out on Aug. 16.
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