'Avengers' Star Zoe Saldana Not Only Battles Bad Guys Onscreen -- She's Also Fighting the Lack of Diversity in Media

The blockbuster actress champions untold stories through BESE, a digital media platform that she founded.
'Avengers' Star Zoe Saldana Not Only Battles Bad Guys Onscreen -- She's Also Fighting the Lack of Diversity in Media
Image credit: Courtesy of Zoe Saldana

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Zoe Saldana is frequently seen on the big screen saving the fate of the universe in major franchises like Star Trek, Avatar and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

But last year she stepped into an entirely new role as the founder, CEO and editor-in-chief of BESE, a digital media platform dedicated to fighting the lack of diversity in mainstream media and creating a space for untold stories, particularly for Latinx youth.

This month, Saldana is joining forces with Chivas Venture as a judge for the Chivas Venture Global Final competition at the TNW Conference in Amsterdam. Saldana and her fellow judges will hear pitches from 20 social entrepreneurs and ultimately award $1 million divided among 5 winners.

Saldana shared her takeaways from her first year in business, stressing the importance of using your voice to help others find theirs.

Related: (Podcast) Simpsons' Star Yeardley Smith Shares Why You Should Never Let the Pursuit of Perfection Get in the Way of Enjoying the Ride

On the biggest challenge in starting her business

“Raising money. It’s challenging because there is a lot of work that goes into it -- to have to go sit down with a lot of people, talk about your idea, and compel them to want to invest in the mission and not primarily in the business. It’s challenging, but I wouldn’t have become an entrepreneur to not build a blended business with a strong mission.”

On her advice for social entrepreneurs looking to make an impact

“My most practical advice is, figure out your mission, define it and make it scalable, because you can’t expect a VC to only back your mission; they have to respond to their investors [and the numbers]. But if it is a successful company, the frosting on the cake is the betterment of the world. You want to make sure that your mission is scalable. If not, keep building it out.”

Related: Kristen Bell and Her Cofounders Built a Company to Save Lives. But Growing It Wasn't So Simple.

On shining a light on underrepresented stories

“A year ago I launched my own business. It doesn't exist without a mission, and that mission is to tell underrepresented stories…Because it is my duty, as an American. Mainstream media doesn’t represent what America looks like. [Not only media], but all industries -- art and leisure, business, science, tech... It’s on the American public to tell stories that represent and reflect what America is.”

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