The actress told Nylon magazine that discrimination still exists in casting offices, but the agents are just more subtle about it.
“When they say, ‘We want to go white,’ they have a very smooth way of saying it, and the recent one is the word ‘traditional’,” she explained. “[I’ve heard], ‘Oh, you know, you’re just not what we were looking for, your skin is a little darker’. Compared to what? My skin is just my skin. It’s dark if you compare it to someone who’s lighter.”
However, Saldana added that director James Cameron was surprised when she auditioned for “Avatar” because she matched his vision of the character.
“I’m thinking he probably imagined some Amazonian girl [for Neytiri] – I had really long hair at the time – wearing really little s**t with, like, a bow and arrow,” she said. “I had no idea she was blue and nine feet tall. But for some reason, he was like, ‘You look so much like her!'”