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Zoe Saldana giving a speech at the USHCC National Convention about her journey towards starting her own business, BESE.
Zoe Saldana during her speech at the USHCC National Convention. Photo: Jensen Toussaint / AL DÍA News

Zoe Saldana: Changing the landscape for voices gone unheard

Zoe Saldana received the 2018 Excellence in Leadership Award during the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce National Convention.

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As she accepted her award, Zoe Saldana used her speech to talk about the importance of young Latinx individuals having role models and representation.

“Today’s America is full of voices that go unheard,” she said. “Voices marginalized by business and by media. As a proud American, and artist in Hollywood, I strive to change the landscape for people who look like me.”

This concept means even more to her because of the fact that she has three young sons.

“I realized that I would be raising boys that would be ‘othered’ by society,” Saldana said. “I want them to be proud of who they are. I want them to know that their multicultural identities are dignified, and that they, too, have a shot at the American Dream.”

The Excellence in Leadership Award is an annual honor that recognizes an extraordinary woman who has devoted her professional career and personal life to revolutionizing the world of business, education, philanthropy, or government. Past recipients include Minority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Jessica Alba, actress and founder of The Honest Company.

Saldana received the award at a ceremony on Sept. 18 during the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce National Convention, which was held in Philadelphia.

Last year, Saldana launched BESE, a digital platform for young members of the Latinx community. She expressed that the true meaning of BESE is to “tell the stories of those who yearn for representation.”

This platform is filled with Latinx writers, producers and directors who aim to celebrate their diversity.

“We want to compete with the mainstream media market,” Saldana said. “We want to continue to grow and bring as many Latinx voices into the industry as possible.”

In an effort to show that the experiences for people in the U.S. goes beyond “cliché media portrayals,” BESE has partnered with Microsoft and USHCC to create a new series called “Deep Learning.”

The series will focus on several communities across the country that are transforming technology. The goal is for other technology companies, in addition to Microsoft, to join the initiative in collaboration as they work to broaden and reshape the American narrative.

“By not giving in to those who attempt to alienate us from ourselves and admiring the people who have the courage to say, ‘This is who I am’, BESE represents those who feel excluded from telling their own stories,” Saldana said.

She added that the content produced will work to encourage the youth to engage with the positive narratives that exist across a diverse range of identities.

“When our children look for role models who look like them, and when children around the world seeks accounts of living, breathing and thriving examples of who to be, they will have BESE.”

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