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January 2008
BLACKOUT
An Interview with Zoe Saldana

BLACKOUT
An Interview with Zoe Saldana

By Wilson Morales

February 4, 2008

Coming from Queens, Zoe Saldana has done numerous films outside of the area such as ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’, ‘Drumline’, ‘Guess Who?’, and most recently the upcoming films ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Avatar’. But when the chance to do a film that struck to the heart, she wanted to be a part of it. In 2003, New York, as well as many other states, experienced a blackout that turned the city into chaos, and Director Jeffrey Wright has put together a film called ‘Blackout’ an indie film set in a forgotten Brooklyn neighborhood highlighting that event. Zoe plays "Claudine" an ambitious writer for "uptown" magazine. In speaking with blackfilm.com, Saldana talks about being in the city when it happened and how the people rallied to support each other.


Let’s talk about the character you play in ‘Blackout’?

Zoe Saldana: I play a girl trying to make end’s meet and trying to be there for her boyfriend and be there for herself and work hard and sometimes it gets overwhelming for her.


What attracted you to the film?

ZS: I was with my family and we lived through that and we were literally caught uptown on the upper East side and we had to walk back to Queens. Certainly not the coolest thing in the world. I felt that there was a sense of unity even though there was little bit of desperation. As a New Yorker I wanted to be a part of it, and tell a New York story.


Within the film, there are a number of stories played out. On your walk home, did you see any drama unfold before your eyes?

ZS: Of course! There were people who were getting dehydrated and tired and people passing out because it was a very hot day as well. People were standing in front of their homes selling stuff, like $10 for a bottle of water, and if you walked the next block, people were giving out water for free. There was this sense of solidarity but at the same time, you also had people who also wanted to take advantage of it. But the cutest thing happened as we crossed the Queensboro bridge, we passed by a street that was full of restaurants and we met the people and owners who were putting out chairs and giving out water and offering turkeys and things like that to all the people that were walking.


How was shooting the film in Brooklyn?

ZS: It was great. It felt like home.


What’s the difference between working on a indie film like this and the bigger studio films you have previously worked on?

ZS: Obviously, the difference is the money, but I don’t think that they are that different in terms of the story. I’ve done independent films where I felt so proud of the project, of the story, and of my character more than some of the bigger films that I have done for financial reasons at the time.


How was working with this cast?

ZS: It was absolutely great. It was so great working with all of them. Everyone was excited to be telling the story from different perspectives. Only a small portion of us were New Yorkers, but all of us knew about the blackout, and Jerry (Lamothe) was a good director. He was so open to whatever contribution we had as actors. I thought it was really interesting


Why should anyone see ‘Blackout’?

ZS: It’s an amazing story. It has a wonderful cast. It’s somewhat based on true events. You can learn a lot from this. I felt in love with the story and I loved being a part of it.


BLACKOUT comes out on DVD on February 5, 2008

 

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