All About Cisely and Mariel

Zoe Saldaña has always been open about how important family is to her, including her bond with sisters Cisely and Mariel Saldaña.

Her relationship with her siblings is so strong that they decided to spend their lives working together. The three sisters started a film and media production company called Cinestar, where they produce reality TV, feature films, television shows and more.

“We really protect our nuclear family. Without that, we’re broken,” Cisely said of her sisters in a Cinestar YouTube video. “It’s always been a blessing that together we’re stronger, apart we’re nothing, and I think that we knew that from get-go and we’re really proud of the work that we’re doing.”

Aside from the film and TV production, Cinestar also boasts a YouTube channel with short-form unscripted content, like the Rosé Roundtable series, on which all three sisters discuss hot topics and life lessons with other inspiring women, including fellow actresses, models and personal trainers.

“I am grateful for my family, specifically my sisters — my partners in crime, my soulmates, we’re rockstars together,” Cisely said in a Thanksgiving-themed episode of Rosé Roundtable.

Here’s everything to know about Zoe Saldaña’s sisters — Cisely and Mariel — and their relationship with the actress.

They grew up in Jackson Heights, New York

Zoe Saldaña with her sisters Cisely and Mariel and parents Asalia Nazario and Dagoberto Galan.

Cisely Saldana Instagram

Zoe, Cisely and Mariel all grew up in the Queens neighborhood of Jackson Heights in New York City.

“We started Cinestar because we’re all about stories. Stories are what got us all the way to Hollywood from Queens,” Zoe said in a video on the company’s roots.

Jackson Heights is known for being one of the most culturally diverse areas in the Big Apple, and Zoe touched on this in a video about holiday traditions, speaking their neighbors being from China, Bangladesh, Poland and Colombia.

“I loved crashing any holiday party because I always felt like an accidental tourist,” Zoe said. “You didn’t have to go to a restaurant on Friday, you could just go to any of your homies’ houses.”

While their early childhood started in Queens, they also spent a lot of their young life in the Dominican Republic, where their mother is from.

“Growing up in New York, our family used to send us back to Dominican Republic for the summers,” Mariel shared in a family recipe video on the Cinestar YouTube channel.

Mariel is the oldest

Cisely Saldaña, Mariel Saldaña, and Zoe Saldaña at the ‘The Honor List’ film screening on May 10, 2018.

Dan Steinberg/Shutterstock

As the oldest sister, Cisely and Zoe admit they lean on Mariel for support.

“Mariel helped raise Zoe and I,” Cisely stated in a video on Cinestar’s YouTube channel, making her emotional. “I know faith because of you. I know my maker because of you and that means a lot.”

Zoe also chimed in on how Mariel is a mother figure in their sibling dynamic, and also praised her ability to be present in the moment.

“She is motherly, she is super-mature … but there’s also this juvenile quality to her that compels you to let go and be absolutely present,” she said of her older sister. “When you’re running about your yesterdays and trying to chase your tomorrows, Mariel is just present.”

Cisely is the youngest

Cisely Saldaña at The Art of Elysium’s 13th Annual Heaven Gala, Los Angeles on January 4, 2020.

John Salangsang/Variety/Penske Media/Getty

In a Rosé Roundtable episode on motherhood and childbirth, Zoe pointed out that Cisely’s reservations about pregnancy and childbirth stemmed from being the youngest in the family and witnessing both herself and Mariel’s pregnancies and births.

“[Cisely] was the one who was there in the hospital every day, wiping butts, cleaning babies, changing diapers,” Zoe said.

In another video titled “Meet the Saldana Sisters,” Mariel and Zoe explain what Cisely means to them and what kind of person she is.

“She embodies loyalty,” Zoe said of her younger sibling. “She doesn’t give up and she’s extremely stubborn but it’s because her intuition is always spot on.”

“She’s the baby and she’s the boss,” Mariel added. “She’s very creative.”

They founded a film production company together

Zoe Saldaña with her sisters Mariel Saldaña, and Cisely Saldaña.

Cisely Saldana Instagram

In January 2013, the Saldaña sisters launched a film production company called Cinestar Pictures. All three women serve as producers on the company’s projects.

“We’re all different, we are all actually into different things. We want the everyday woman to be portrayed … We all come in different shapes, sizes. We’re not all tied into one mold. What we do have in common is we need to love each other,” Mariel explained in a video about why they founded Cinestar.

“We want to create content where you feel celebrated, you feel seen, you feel educated, you are entertained and that you feel compelled enough by the content we’re creating that you wanna reach out to us and keep pointing us in the right direction,” Zoe added.

Cinestar releases “reality rom-coms,” which are unscripted, documentary-style feature films that follow real women on dating adventures in different cities. The idea first came to fruition with their 2023 release, Meet Me In Paris, and followed with the sequel, Meet Me In Rome, which was released on the Roku Channel in February 2024.

Both reality rom-coms were team efforts with Hello Sunshine, Reese Witherspoon’s media company, with both Zoe and Reese at the helm of direction.

Cinestar has also released more traditional films, like 2018’s The Honor List, which starred Karrueche Tran, Sasha Pieterse and Arden Cho.

They’ve additionally produced shows like Netflix’s From Scratch and HBO Max’s Gordita Chronicles.

Mariel is a mom of two

Mariel has two kids: Eli and Kasey.

Eli was born on May 12, 2003. For their 20th birthday, their aunt Zoe posted a sweet message on Instagram about her love for them, sharing photos and videos of Eli visiting the family on set.

“On this very day, 20 years ago, you made us the luckiest family in the world,” she wrote. “Thank you for spreading your stardust on every single person you meet. You are kind, caring, pure, witty, hilarious, sensible, intuitive, forgiving, and an absolute blast to hang out with.”

“Mi primer amor! Te amo,” she added in Spanish, translating to: “My first love! I love you.”

Eli is involved with their mom and aunts work, spending time on set for some films and tagging along on press trips, too.

Despite being much younger, Mariel is dedicated to exposing Kasey to art as well. In July 2018, she posted a photo of a then 5-year old Kasey at an art gallery for an exhibit exploring Latinx identity.

“We are proud, we are latinas, we are raising our children to know who they are,” Mariel wrote.

“Kasey is at the Gallery!” Zoe commented, showing excitement for her niece’s exposure to art.

They love to share family recipes

Zoe Saldaña with her sisters Cisely and Mariel and mom Asalia Nazario.

Cisely Saldana Instagram

One of the featured series on the Cinestar YouTube channel is a cooking series called “My Family Recipe,” where people are encouraged to share the recipes of their favorite family dishes.

Both Mariel and Cisely have demonstrated how to cook some of their favorite family recipes on the channel.

Cisely opted to cook her maternal grandmother’s recipe for Moro-Locrio, a hybrid dish of rice, beans and meat.

“My grandmother used to make this dish for me on birthdays and when I was sick,” she said.

“One of my favorite things about her is that she’s overly confident, so when she’s done cooking your favorite meal, she doesn’t even let you compliment it because she likes to compliment her own food herself,” she added.

Similarly, Mariel recreated a recipe from their great-grandmother for Arroz con Leche, also known as rice pudding.

“My great-grandma was a force to be reckoned with,” Mariel said. “I used to get extremely excited when I saw her soak the rice for a little bit because I knew [she’s] making arroz con leche.”

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