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If you consider yourself a fan of Alita: Battle Angel, the movie might have also made you a fan of Rosa Salazar, who starred as the titular cybernetic hero. However, the person you saw in the 2019 manga adaptation from director Robert Rodriguez and producer James Cameron was not exactly the “real” Rosa Salazar, at least in comparison to the non-motion capture performances she gave in Bird Box or the Maze Runner movies, for instance. If you would like to become better acquainted with the talented Latinx actress (or, at least, with her work outside of smashing robots), the following are some essential Rosa Salazar movies and TV shows we recommend, starting with her most recent strange, vengeful adventure out of time.
Brand New Cherry Flavor (Netflix)
A young aspiring filmmaker (Rosa Salazar) goes to otherworldly extremes in order to give the the slimy movie producer (Eric Lange) who wronged her a taste of his own medicine in 1990s Los Angeles.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Rosa Salazar: While she has previously dipped her toe into the horror genre a few times before, the mind bending, supernatural, eight-part Netflix original miniseries Brand New Cherry Flavor, which premiered in 2021 and also stars Get Out cast member Catherine Keener, marks the first time Rosa Salazar plays the lead of such a tale, putting her just that much closer to reaching the coveted status of the horror Scream Queens.
Bird Box (Netflix)
A woman (producer Sandra Bullock) struggles to singlehandedly navigate her two children to a potential safe haven in a world overrun with a mysterious entity that causes deadly consequences for most if seen by human eye.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Rosa Salazar: For her first Netflix original supernatural thriller, 2018’s Bird Box, Rosa Salazar plays a young woman named Lucy, who forms an unlikely romance with Machine Gun Kelly’s character while trapped in a stranger’s house together during the terrifying apocalyptic event at the center of this intense and absorbing adaptation of Josh Malerman’s novel from director Susanne Bier.
The Kindergarten Teacher (Netflix)
After discovering that one of her students is especially talented for his age, an elementary school instructor (Academy Award nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal) indulges in an obsessive need to preserve his gift from an unappreciative world.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Rosa Salazar: In the same year that she appeared in Bird Box, Rosa Salazar plays a babysitter to the child whom Maggie Gyllenhaal becomes dangerously obsessed with in The Kindergarten Teacher - a more grounded but, perhaps, even more shocking Netflix original thriller.
Big Mouth (Netflix)
A diverse group of teenagers each encounter different greatly exaggerated, yet undeniably relatable, struggles of the common youth involving getting bad grades at school, first crushes, and more.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Rosa Salazar: Rosa Salazar has also gotten to play the role of a teacher in a Netflix original when she voice science instructor Ms. Benitez on five episodes (so far) of Big Mouth - a hilarious and brutally honest animated comedy that sometimes does feel like a horror movie.
American Horror Story (Netflix, Hulu)
Prisoners of a mental institution fighting for their sanity (and their lives) against its sadistic staff, a detective investigating a Los Angeles hotel in which guests are dying to get a room, and victims of a haunting and the actors who portrayed them returning to the original site of the incident are just some of the harrowing, unique, and psychosexual stories in this acclaimed, seasonal horror anthology series.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Rosa Salazar: Speaking of horror movies (well, more accurately, horror TV shows) one of Rosa Salazar’s first roles in a major television series was on the stunning premiere season of American Horror Story as a nurse who falls victim to a brutal stabbing in the Murder House, which is where her spirit must reside afterward.
Parenthood (Hulu, Peacock)
Various members of the same family tree endure different struggles that come with the territory of being a child, a parent, or even a grandparent.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Rosa Salazar: Rosa Salazsar’s next prominent TV role was on NBC’s Parenthood cast as the recurring character Zoe DeHeven - a young woman whose unborn child Julia (Erika Christensen) and Joel Graham (Sam Jaeger) hope to adopt.
Undone (Amazon Prime, IMDb TV)
A 28-year-old woman from San Antonio, Texas, (Rosa Salazar) suffers a car accident that she ends up surviving, only to wake up with a newfound ability that has a profound effect on time itself.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Rosa Salazar: Rosa Salazar landed her first lead role on a TV show, alongside Bob Odenkirk as her father, when she was cast in Undone - an inventive Amazon Prime original fantasy brought to life with beautiful rotoscope animation.
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, Maze Runner: The Death Cure (Amazon Rental)
After escaping a deadly labyrinth guarded by killer robots, a young man (Dylan O’Brien) and his friends discover the secrets behind the government organization that held them captive and form a rebellion against their oppressive ways.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Rosa Salazar: In 2015, Rosa Salazar joined the cast of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, the second installment of the movie franchise inspired by James Dashner’s popular YA novel series, as the resilient Brenda (one of the film’s strongest and most likable characters), whom she would also reprise three years later in Maze Runner: The Death Cure - the third and final chapter of the thrilling dystopian adventure.
The Divergent Series: Insurgent (Amazon Rental)
After escaping persecution for her unusual condition, a young woman (Shailene Woodley) and her friends discover the secrets behind the faction that is hunting them and form a rebellion against the oppressive forces leading their dystopian society.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Rosa Salazar: Before she first appeared in the Maze Runner movies, Rosa Salazar made her YA novel movie debut when she joined the Divergent movies cast in the second installment, The Divergent Series: Insurgent, as a member of the Dauntless faction named Brenda, amounting to one of the strongest performances in the franchise.
CHIPS (HBO Max)
A reckless rookie of the California Highway Patrol (Dax Shepard) discovers that his new partner (Michael Peña) is an undercover FBI agent and helps him attempt to scope out any suspicious personalities from within the department.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Rosa Salazar: Rosa Salazar looks like she is having a lot of fun in her scene-stealing role as a patrol officer in CHIPS - star, writer, and director Dax Shepard’s comedic, big screen twist on the hit 1970s TV series of the same name that made Erik Estrada a star.
Epic (HBO Max)
A young woman (Amanda Seyfried) discovers that her eccentric scientist father’s seemingly childish theories were true when she finds herself accidentally shrunk down to a size that allows her to interact with a tiny civilization of people whose livelihood is being threatened by an evil, insect-like race of creatures.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Rosa Salazar: In her first voice acting role in a feature-length animated film, Rosa Salazar makes a brief, but winning appearance opposite Josh Hutcherson as a character credited as “Roller Derby Girl” in 2013’s Epic - a star-studded fantasy adventure lives up to its name from Blue Sky (the creators of the Ice Age movies and the Rio series) that is inspired by William Joyce's The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs.
Rosa Salazar’s next film is another sci-fi drama called The Chariot, whose plot is being kept under wraps at the moment, and she also has the teen dramedy The Bang Bang Girls, in which she plays a chemistry teacher recruited by two students for a secret after school sexual education class, currently in development. Of course, what fans of the 36-year-old actress really hope to see is her reprise as the titular cybernetic warrior from Alita: Battle Angel in a follow-up. Salazar has already expressed interest in returning to the role, so hopefully that is good enough incentive to make the sequel happen one day.
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Jason Wiese writes feature stories for CinemaBlend. His occupation results from years dreaming of a filmmaking career, settling on a "professional film fan" career, studying journalism at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO (where he served as Culture Editor for its student-run print and online publications), and a brief stint of reviewing movies for fun. He would later continue that side-hustle of film criticism on TikTok (@wiesewisdom), where he posts videos on a semi-weekly basis. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.