Zoë Saldaña, protagonist of Avatar, decorated by Dominican President

Dominican-American actress Zoë Saldaña, protagonist of the mega hit Avatar, was decorated today by Dominican President Leonel Fernández in recognition of her achievements in culture and the arts. In a ceremony at the National Palace, and in the presence of her family, government functionaries, and Dominican artists and filmmakers, she was awarded the Order of Duarte, Sánchez y Mella at the rank of Chevalier.

Wearing a printed dress and heels that the Spanish agency EFE described as “vertiginous,” Saldaña received the award with “humility,” hoping “never to disappoint her Dominican compatriots.” She expressed her pride in the help the Dominican Republic has offered Haiti since the January 12 quake. “We have left behind so many differences and years of discord, and have come together to help Haiti, and it makes me immensely proud to be Dominican,” she said.

Fernández, in turn, manifested his pride in Saldaña’s participation in Avatar, winner of three Oscars, which he describes as “one of the highest-quality films he has ever seen. To know that a Dominican was playing a central role made me feel that the Dominica Republic had transcended in a particular way.” He also pointed out the participation in the film of Michelle Rodríguez, another actress of Dominican heritage. Saldaña, whose father is Dominican and whose mother is Puerto Rican, is in the Dominican Republic for the awarding of the Casandra Prizes, organized by the Dominican Association of Chroniclers of the Arts, which this year is honoring Cuban singer Jon Secada and Haitian performer Wyclef Jean.

For more from EFE, in Spanish, go to http://www.google.com/hostednews/epa/article/ALeqM5h3bFsxhezSaABLGwL7eUjfNifVQA

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