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Zoe Saldaña Was Advised to Change Her Name Before ‘Center Stage’: ‘It’s What Everybody Does’

"Their intention was never for me to stop being who I was. They celebrated who I was."

Zoe Saldana attends the world premiere of "The Adam Project" at Alice Tully Hall on Monday, Feb. 28, 2022, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Zoe Saldaña

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Zoe Saldaña revealed that her stage name could have been very different, thanks to being “discouraged” by her former manager to use her real moniker.

The “Guardians of the Galaxy” star told Entertainment Weekly’s Bold School that early in her career, she was told to change her name.

“When I did [2000 film] ‘Center Stage,’ I remember being discouraged by my management at that time to use my name,” Saldaña said, before adding, “but their intention was never for me to stop being who I was. They celebrated who I was.”

Saldaña continued, “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 ’60s, I believe. And she said it’s what everybody does. That was her doing the best that she wanted for me, but I still knew that I liked my name.”

A former ballerina, Saldaña made her film debut with “Center Stage,” also starring Amanda Schull, Peter Gallagher, Donna Murphy, Eion Bailey, and Susan May Pratt. Saldaña later went on to appear in “Crossroads,” “Drumline,” and “The Terminal,” before breaking out in “Star Trek,” “Avatar,” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Saldaña isn’t the only star who has spoken out about being advised to change their names. Thandiwe Newton told British Vogue in April 2021 that she was credited in films as Thandie Newton for over three decades before she reclaimed her actual spelling in Hollywood.

“That’s my name. It’s always been my name. I’m taking back what’s mine,” Newton said.

Meanwhile, Saldaña has 12 films in the works, including “Avatar” two, three, four, and five, plus “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.”

The “Adam Project” star told Comic Book Resources that she hopes her “Guardians” character Gamora will also land a stand-alone origin story. “I feel like [‘Avengers: Infinity War’] made me incredibly curious to know what that planet was like, what her species was like because they were completely wiped out of existence,” Saldaña said of a possible prequel film. “She carries such a big weight on herself, and to get to know why and where that comes from was really great.”

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