The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon - Season 11©GettyImages

Zoe Saldana sheds light on her grandmother’s immigration journey

Saldana fondly remembers her grandmother as the family’s biggest champion, supporter, and a driving force behind their collective aspirations

Zoe Saldana recently shared a poignant story about her grandmother during an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Saldana’s heartfelt tribute shed light on her grandmother’s profound impact on her family’s journey and why the film “The Absence of Eden” resonated deeply with their experiences.

In her interview with Jimmy Fallon, the renowned actress known for her roles in blockbuster films like Avatar and Guardians of the Galaxy, reminisced about her grandmother, the matriarch of their family, who tragically lost her battle with cancer in 2019, just a month before the commencement of shooting for the movie. Despite the sorrow of her passing, Saldana fondly remembers her grandmother as their biggest champion, staunchest supporter, and a driving force behind their collective aspirations.

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon - Season 11©GettyImages

“My grandmother who was our matriarch,” the star began. “She lost her battle with cancer a month before we started shooting the movie, but she was his biggest champion, my biggest enabler, all of ours and, and this film is dedicated to her because thanks to her when she arrived here in 1961, running away from a dictatorship and from Dominican Republic, New York, America opened its doors to her and she was able to manifest her dreams, and part of that was providing a better life for her children.”

Saldana eloquently described how America opened its doors to her grandmother, allowing her to manifest her dreams and provide a better future for her children, including Saldana herself. “Here I am a fruit of that labor of a product of her sacrifices. And I’m always grateful, but always very well aware that that conversation around immigration is not as simple, as easy, and as glorious for everybody. And all we wanted to do was just remind people that it is about humanity, that these are people whether we agree as to why they’re crossing any border,” she said. “These are women and children and fathers and sons and disabled people, and doctors and scientists. They’re not just, you know, service providers. And we just need to have a way to make more space to understand the human side of this complex object.”

Indeed, Saldana acknowledges that she is a product of her grandmother’s sacrifices and the labor of generations past. Her grandmother’s resilience and determination paved the way for Saldana and her family to thrive in a new country, forging a legacy of strength and perseverance.

“The Absence of Eden,” the film in which Saldana is involved, holds a special significance as it is dedicated to her grandmother’s memory. Through this project, Saldana and her colleagues aim to shed light on the complexities of immigration and the human stories behind it. The film tells the story of an “ICE Agent struggling with the moral dilemmas of border security and an undocumented woman fighting to escape a ruthless cartel cross paths.”

In her impassioned plea, Saldana reminds us that immigration is not merely a political issue but a deeply human one. Behind every statistic and policy debate are real people—mothers, fathers, children, doctors, scientists—each with dreams, fears, and aspirations. By sharing her family’s story and dedicating herself to projects like “The Absence of Eden,” Saldana hopes to foster empathy and compassion towards immigrants, encouraging society to make space for their voices and experiences.

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