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While diversity and representation in film have always been understood to be important, at least by some, in recent years we've seen that these ideas aren't simply welcome, but can be quite successful. Audiences will pay money to see themselves represented on screen and Michelle Rodriguez says that for the Latina community, she will do whatever she needs to do to be sure that she represents that community well. Even if it means she has built a reputation in Hollywood to be difficult to work with.
In a recent appearance on EW Live on Sirium XM, Michelle Rodriguez explained that her "hard to work with" reputation on film sets has largely been a result of her willingness to, when necessary, go over people's heads to make sure that her characters, and specifically her character of Letty in the Fast and Furious franchise, is properly represented. According to Rodriguez...
I’ve become riddled with the title hard to work with by people who have had to experience that, because sometimes I’ve had to go over people’s heads to get things done that I know have to do with the integrity of a character that I represent. My character will represent many Latina women who face machismo all the time. I have to be careful, what I do because it’s one of the only moments in a feature film where the woman isn’t on a stripper pole, where the woman isn’t a maid, or she’s not running around begging for her boyfriend to take care of her. And so that image is very important when it’s spread out around the world at the scale that Fast and Furious is.
The Fast and Furious franchise started small, but it has become an absolute phenomenon, with recent entries in the series grossing $1 billion at the global box office. Michelle Rodriguez isn't simply representing Latina women to others in America, she's doing it for the whole world, and she clearly understands that responsibility. She embraces it, but that means doing the work on her end to make sure Letty is handled properly, and if she gets called difficult because of it, so be it.
Most recently that took the form of Michelle Rodriguez fighting to get a female writer hired for the most recent Fast and Furious film, F9. She was very publicly critical of the way women had been handled in the franchise previously and wanted to see a change. Luckily, Rodriguez says that star Vin Diesel, who is also a producer of the Fast and Furious movies, understands what she's trying to do and has been supportive. It seems that when she needs to go over somebody's head, Vin Diesel is who she ends up talking to...
I have to protect her. I do it at all costs. I’ve quit once before and literally Vin comes to save my day. 'Cause he understands. He knows what I’m standing up for.
F9 made the decision early to postpone its release a full year following theater closures, a decision that seemed extreme at the time but now seems like the right move. We have several more months to wait before we see how Michelle Rodriguez's hard work has paid off for her character.