Zoe Saldana’s new celebrity-driven webseries My Hero has its heart in the right place—celebrating those people who helped and inspired the stars before they were famous—but it wouldn’t hurt to give these heroes a little more of the limelight.
Saldana’s rise to fame seems tougher than most. Although the Guardians of the Galaxy actress recalls an initially idyllic upbringing, filled with music and stories told in rocking chairs on the family’s porch in the Dominican Republic, a car accident at age 9 would rob her of her father. By this stage the family, which included Saldana’s sisters Mariel and Cisely, had little money, and they would find thieves, on that very porch, trying to steal the rocking chairs in broad daylight.
But it says a lot about Saldana’s hero, her mother Asalia, that, despite the stress of many sleepless nights alone, “keep[ing] watch for burglars who were trying to enter the house,” she maintained a loving and structured environment that allowed her daughters to thrive.
It’s lovely seeing Saldana honoring her mother in this way. And, by making us think about those who have sacrificed for us, it feels like this series will indirectly be a big thank-you to all those moms and dads whose kids may not have starred in Avatar but still went above and beyond.
But, in this the first episode, it is Saldana, not her mom who is front and center. We sadly hear very little, comparatively, from Asalia, and a whole lot from her daughter. It is as if—and I hate to say this—Zoe doesn’t want anyone forgetting who the real star is. Indeed she features so prominently that her no doubt heartfelt recognition of her mother as being “the ultimate rockstar… because you showed us your humanity” lacks the intended verisimilitude and instead comes across as somewhat glib and performative.
It’s a misstep in what could otherwise be an interesting series. Let’s hope that future episodes—which, if my eyesight and the brief glimpses in the first episode’s opening can be trusted, will feature Nick Cannon, Julianne Hough, and Maria Menounos—can readdress this imbalance and aim the spotlight in the right direction.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)