Zoe Saldana Is Over Racism and Sexism in Hollywood

Like many women in Hollywood, Zoe Saldana is no stranger to the industry's gender gap that extends beyond unequal pay.

"I feel lonely on set. And it's not just that you're the only woman in the cast," Saldana told TIME. "There are very few women on the crew. You hardly ever get to work with a female director. Some female producers try to blend in with their male colleagues and won't stand up to them. You're completely outnumbered. And you take a hit in your paycheck as a woman too."

Growing up, Saldana viewed other women as competition because of the film industry's culture.

"Like all other young actresses, I saw other women as competition. If there were 50,000 of us going out for the role, and if I get it, I must be the best," she said.

She has since changed her tune after being immersed in the sci-fi marketplace for her roles in "Avatar," "Guardians of the Galaxy," and "Star Trek." Now, Saldana, 38, hopes to be a role model and inspiration to women everywhere.

"I feel I have a greater chance of setting an example for young women when I do movies [that take place] in the future because I’m less likely to be boxed in," she said. "I'm not playing someone's girlfriend. I can be tougher. The future represents hope."

Founding Cinestar Pictures, a production company with her two sisters, Mariel and Cisely, she hopes to create content for female and Latino audiences.

"Behind the scenes, the actors are the ones with the least power. You're told what to do, what to wear, where to stand. Your creative inputs for ignored," Saldana said. Hoping to change the male dominated industry, she urges others to join her.

"We keep our heads down because we’re afraid of losing our jobs," she said. "But we can't just complain anymore. We have to band together with love and respect and do something about it."

The mixed Puerto Rican and Dominican actress is not just focused on women's issues.

"Racism is often used as a plot device. Sometimes it's glamorized," she said.

She's hoping to battle the many Latino stereotypes with statistics showing that Hispanics will make up 30 percent of the population by 2060.

"We have to show the next generation that they can be the face of America as much as anyone else."

NEXT: Zoe Saldana Is Co-Producing a Film On Canada's Missing Indigenous Women »

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