Zoe Saldana on Her New AOL Series and Celebrating the People Behind the Stars

Fans are used to hearing entertainers thank those important to them in acceptance speech or perhaps even show a photo or short video of them on their social media channels, but what about actually rewarding those who helped them become the people they are today? In the new AOL Series, “My Hero” executive producer Zoe Saldana and others like Julianne Hough, Maria Menounos, Nick Cannon and Tyler Posey offer surprise rewards to those closest to them or who mentored them.

The first episode, which features Saldana and her sisters honoring their mother, launched today and subsequent episodes hit the web at midnight Fridays. We talked to Saldana about the project and why she thinks these acts of generosity is worth documenting.

So this is a fun, good-spirited project.

Yes, yes it is. My sister, along with her friends, created this and brought it to my other sister and I about five years ago. We loved the concept and we thought this is such a great thing to do. The one thing we realize is that, being in this business all the years and meeting all the great people we’ve met, people do not hesitate to thank those who helped them and supported them and encouraged them enough. The level of gratitude with entertainers is really humbling and I thought that would be a nice thing to make a show out of — to show the audience that, besides this misconception that we live like fabulous lives, that if it wasn’t for the help of somebody we would not be here.

You see things that a celebrity will post on social media or will say something during an awards speech, but this is different.

You shed light on this person. You kind of go this is me, but it’s not about me. It’s about my mom or my sister or my school teacher. You kind of give their five minutes of spotlight because you want to tell the world what they did for you.

How did you decide to do it online?

We pitched it to a lot of networks. We went to almost all the television network and then we thought, why don’t we go to the Internet? We’re working more and more and we don’t have as much time to watch TV as we used to and you kind of have your TV on the go, so I’m like let’s just put it out there and we’ll see who bites. And AOL did — they were like we love it!

Obviously the first episode, which you did with your mom, has a personal connection. But were there others that particularly moved you?

Oh my god, yes. I don’t know if I should spoil the surprise, but to know who Nick Cannon’s hero is — you would not guess that it would be the person he chose. And for Julianne Hough, you would not have thought that she’s one of this many siblings. It gets very emotional for the entertainer to sit down and walk through memory lane and tell us why this person’s very special.

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