Zoe Saldana 'Grateful' for 'Avatar' Oscar Nomination and Being Part of a Life-Changing Film (Exclusive)

The actress is nominated as part of the ensemble for 'Avatar The Way of Water.'

Zoe Saldana has one word in mind when it comes to  Avatar: The Way of Water being nominated for an Oscar at the 95th annual Academy Awards on Sunday: grateful. 

"Sometimes I wake up and I know what it means," Saldana told ET's Kevin Frazier and Nischelle Turner about the film's Best Picture nomination. "And other times, I just know what it feels like, and it just feels really beautiful to know that I am a part of a story that has touched so many people across the globe. From all walks of life. From indigenous tribes in the Amazon, to the metropolis of cities, everybody is wanting to know more about this story. And everybody is becoming super curious about climate change."

For Saldana, the moment is bigger, it's about representation for little girls who look like her.

"And to think that a little girl a little brown girl from Queens can you know can do all these things," she says. "And I'm grateful for that, because I naturally love science fiction. Not only that, getting to send that message to girls that it is OK to love a genre that is driven in action. That it's OK to be curious about about science and about space. I think those things are really important for girls and we tend to 
overlook that."

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Avatar: The Way of Water helped Saldana become the first actor to star in four films that grossed $2 billion. The 44-year-old achieved the record with Avatar, Avengers: Endgame and Avengers: Infinity War. 

"I wouldn't have done this if I planned it," she says. "I think it's it's goes to show that you follow your heart, you stay true to who you really really are, and what you really like and who you and what you want and and you trust that the universe is connecting you with people of your likeness cause I do believe that I do have a lot in common."

Saldana credits working with some of the biggest names, including James Cameron, who has directed the Avatar films. 

"Look at me showing off, with like all the James' cause I have worked with every James," she quips. "Like James Gunn and James Cameron and Steven Spielberg and these are these individuals that probably know more than what we think. What it's like to be an outsider, to be bullied to feel like you don't fit in to be curious about the infinite, imaginable, unimaginable space of the galaxies and to create stories."

When it comes to the Academy Awards, Saldana says that she is celebrating James Cameron tonight.

"I told you, man, I bet on the right people and we bet on him over and over again," she says. "I'm proud of him. I'm proud of him and his entire team. I feel so lucky to be a part of something that gets to really change lives and change cinemas history. I just love it."

Saldana, who was joined by her husband, Marco Perego Saldana, donned a Fendi dress with a vintage Cartier necklace that almost stole the show. However, the actress and husband got to sneak away for date night, and the actress can count on their three sons to cheer her on from across the globe. 

"Well, right now, we're sort of like the family is a little split we have we have one half of the family that's in Europe because we are working and we are living there until the summer and we were able to bring one child with us," she tells ET.  "And he's having a blast. He's right now with his aunties and his grandparents and uncle and cousins and our dogs, he's in he's in heaven."

The 2023 Academy Awards hosted by Jimmy Kimmel airs live on Sunday, March 12 starting at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on ABC. In the meantime, keep checking back into ETonline.com for complete Oscars coverage including all the night's big winners.