Zoë Saldana Finds Creative Shelter in Making Haven
by Brad Balfour
Originally posted on September 12, 2006.
For actress Zoë Saldana making the indie film Haven had a lot to do with confronting her roots as being of Caribbean descent. While she’s been through the drill of characters of her age and ethnicity such as Center Stage and Drumline which put the spotlight on her career, Haven gave her a chance to really grapple with the nitty gritty of a character and a culture.
Working with first time feature director Frank E. Flowers, she got to work in a great place, Grand Cayman Island, and with an ensemble of fine actors from Anthony Mackie to Orlando Bloom. In Haven, Saldana plays Andrea, the gorgeous teenage daughter of a prominent local businessman who falls in love with Shy (Bloom) a poor fisherman who hangs out with other street kids in town and not someone her dad or older brother (Mackie) approve of.
Saldana has been working with lots of young indie directors and getting the chance to make films that mean something to her–and hopefully the audiences as well. She’s definitely a face to keep an eye on.
What attracted you to this project? Was it shooting in the Caribbean, in the Grand Caymans?
I had already shot that same year another film in Caribbean I knew how wonderful it is to shoot there. I am of Caribbean descent and it was how touching the story was to me and how real the characters were that made me highly interested in being a part of this project.
Your character Andrea comes from a rich family where her father is very protective of her. Did the sheltered family situation have a degree of authenticity?
Definitely. I got interested in Andrea because she was so hurt by the people she trusted the most in her life. The three men in her life – her father, brother and the man she loved. She trusted them and they failed her. That’s very popular in a very conservative, traditional culture where the daughter is seen as a prize and her virginity is more like the golden token that the family has either to marry her to good family or to save face that she makes a good appearance of purity. You never stop to realize you are using and exploiting a person.
I come from culture where you would see that–the boys are off to do what they are free to do because we live in a free world for men. In the Caribbean culture and I can only speak for that culture–girls are taken more care of, kept sheltered; reputation is holy to the family the appearance. It was the biggest flag for me when I read script. I always wanted to do something related to that, to fight for that and against it what it represents. She was so flawed but half of her flaws were not her responsibility; they were through consequence of her being handled badly by people she trusted. Her rebellion, that rebellious character, it felt completely justified and there was no other path she could take.
The perception most people who visit the Caribbean have no idea about the people who live there. This film offered an authentic look at that.
At some point you have to become aware that you are visiting this country as a foreigner. Besides the resorts and everything you have to become aware that this country has families that go back seven or eight generations. They’re a part of Caymanian folklore. Also it’s a target; it’s a country where there’s no income tax. It became center of a lot of scandal seven or eight years ago along with the Bahamas; how people laundered money. The laws are now more strict to protect the people that live there. If you go to an island in the Caribbean it’s not just beaches and fried fish. You have to respect the culture that’s been there been there for years. Haven portrays that well.