As the Alpha female of one of the closest familias in movie history, the Fast & the Furious franchise, when Michelle Rodriguez speaks her mind, we can't help but listen.
Known for her bad bitch personality and tough girl attitude, she certainly knows how to pack a punch as one of the most outspoken actresses in the entertainment business. And in a recent interview, the Furious 7 actress did not disappoint by revealing her thoughts on the industry's treatment of women and the lack of female empowerment in the business.
Before you see what she has to say, take a moment to relive her putting the pedal to the metal in the trailer for Furious 7 below:
Criticism of female-stereotypical roles in Hollywood
In an interview with NJ.com, the 36-year-old spoke out against the cliches women come up against when being cast in a role. In particular, she expressed her frustration at the selection process and the parts available to her gender, saying:
“I have such a strong sense of self, there are certain lines I just won’t cross [...] I’m really picky about the parts I choose. I can’t be the slut. I cannot be just the girlfriend. I can’t be the girl who gets empowered because she’s been raped. I can’t be the girl who gets empowered and then dies.”
As a result, at the start of her career, she made a promise to herself to not sell-out, claiming that she endeavored to create her own archetype, regardless of whether it would shut her down:
"I almost did go broke, twice! But people finally got it: okay, Michelle is not malleable, you’re not going to influence her by shining fame and money at her, and they stopped offering me that sort of stuff. But you know, it’s a Catch-22. It’s helped me and it’s screwed me."
Rodriguez nearly left the Fast franchise
This Catch-22 she admits to having experienced during an earlier version of the street racing extravaganza back in 2001. The actress was written in to play out a love triangle between Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, to which she was strongly opposed.
For Rodriguez, this was not the kind of development she wanted for her character, Letty Ortiz, and as a result, she has shockingly revealed that she threatened to quit over it.
Speaking to The Daily Beast, she recalled the situation:
“Is it realistic for a Latin girl who’s with the alpha-est of the alpha males to cheat on him with the cute boy? I had to put my foot down [...] I basically cried and said I’m going to quit and, ‘Don’t sue me, please — I’m sorry, but I can’t do this in front of millions of people.’”
“My whole point in being an actress is that I thought I got to live a dream [...] And I don’t dream about being a slut! Do you?!”
Thanks to her tough-girl attitude, the idea was discarded and she managed to get what she wanted out of the blockbuster franchise.
"I haven't carried a move since Girlfight"
It is instances like this that have made Rodriguez question why women struggle to penetrate the market on their own terms, claiming that the lack of female voices in Hollywood is the main issue.
Why do they always need to play the girlfriend or the vulnerable victim?
Taking herself as an example, she admits that she hasn't been a lead character in a movie since Girlfight, over 15 years ago. Check out her compelling performance as a female boxer below:
As a tough, trail-blazing young woman from Brooklyn, Rodriguez wonderfully executed the essence of female-empowerment. It is roles like this that she yearns to reprise, but such an opportunity has not fully come around since then. She admits that:
"I’ve kind of closed myself off to the world out of fear of being taken down, or stereotyped. And in the process, I’ve stereotyped myself.”
Interestingly, she adds that this vicious cycle of female misrepresentation is a fault of both sexes. She understands that "80% of the writers out there are men, and of course you're going to write what you know," but she considers herself also to blame for this. She continues:
"It’s our fault as women for not penetrating that market, you know? I can’t complain about the scripts that are out there until I start writing some myself.”
I totally agree, Michelle. I really hope you rise up to the challenge!