It was a family affair at Step Up’s 11th annual Inspiration Awards, where actress Zoe Saldana was honored for her professional and philanthropic achievements that inspire women and girls. Held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, the luncheon welcomed more than 850 guests including Saldana, her husband Marco Perego, and sister Cisely Saldana, and raised nearly $400,000 for the national mentorship non-profit Step Up’s after-school programs that mentor teen girls from under-resourced communities.
“I’m excited to be here,” Saldana (in Chloe) tells InStyle. “It feels really good to know that you’re being considered by an organization such as this as someone who’s a good role model for women to sort of guide themselves or take as an inspiration. It makes you feel very present and responsible.”
Other stars on hand to fete the good cause included longtime Step Up supporter and past honoree Julie Bowen (in Philosophy and Oscar Tiye), Kaley Cuoco Sweeting (in Ann Taylor), Bellamy Young, Haylie Duff, Constance Zimmer, Abigail Spencer, Beverley Mitchell, and Lacey Chabert. “We need to recognize that girls in our own communities aren’t getting enough support and encouragement when it comes to their education. We have a real responsibility to encourage them,” Bowen says. “This organization is unique and different because its about mentoring. It’s about us as professional women lending a helping hand to quite literally support these girls to step up despite their challenging circumstances and make the most of their education.”
During the ceremony, Saldana discussed her obstacle-filled upbringing and praised the women who helped her through tough times. “I don’t ever want to run out of people to thank in my life because whoever says that they made it on their own is lying,” the actress says. “I’m here because a village helped my mom, and it still continues to do so.” She noted her mother, Asalia Nazario; sisters, Mariel and Cisely; agent, Lorrie Bartlett; and her childhood ballet teacher as among those who have been role models in her own life. “A lot of women in my life inspire me!” Saldana tells InStyle.
—With reporting by Brianna Deutsch