Fans of the Fast & Furious film franchise know Michelle Rodriguez very well from her superb performance as Letty Ortiz, a driven yet loyal character who never shies away from speaking her mind. This past week, an old video of the actress has been making the rounds through social media, and while the people have some mixed reactions, it’s clear that Rodriguez channeled her inner Letty and didn’t refrain from giving us her opinion.
Posted on TikTok by Movie Maniacs, the video clip, which was originally taken in 2015, captured Rodriguez giving her opinion on minorities playing superheroes roles. “Because of this whole, like, ‘minorities in Hollywood’ thing… stop stealing all the white people superheroes,” she said in the paparazzi-captured video. “Make up your own, you know what I’m saying, like what’s up with that.”
Since the circulation of this clip, many people are having mixed feelings about Rodriguez’s opinion. Considering that there are 12 movies total in the Fast & Furious franchise, some are finding a large sense of irony in her words. Those agreeing with her, however, say that her words are being taken out of context, and that Rodriguez is advocating for not only more originality in the superhero world, but also better representation of minorities.
When the video was originally released, Rodriguez set the record straight as to what her words truly meant in a Facebook video post, “I stuck my foot in my mouth once again. I said people should stop trying to steal white people superheroes. And I guess it got taken out of context, because a lot of people got offended,” she began, apologizing for her habit of “speaking without a filter”.
She went on to state that instead of forming new ideas, Hollywood enforces having minorities fit into already existing stories rather than creating new roles and franchises that can better represent their culture. “I’m just saying that the different cultures from around the world that aren’t Hollywood – Latin, black, asian, and so on and so forth, are considered ‘minorities’ because there aren’t a lot of writers representing them,” Rodriguez said, stating that this should become a priority.
The three-minute video response cleared up a lot of questions as to what Rodriguez truly meant, and she ended her statement by stating: “It’s time to stop. Stop trying to take what’s already there and fit a culture into it. I think it’s time for us to write our own mythology and our own story – every culture. So that’s what I meant. And I’m sorry if it came off rude or stupid, that’s not what I meant. Cheers.”
Having the full picture of Rodriguez’s words, and also taking into consideration that her opinion was provided to us in 2015 – her words are ahead of her time. It wasn’t until three years later that one of Marvel Studios gems, Black Panther, was released representing the black community and African culture. More recently, Marvel represented the Asian community in 2021 with the release of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings; moreover, Rodriguez had a point.
The Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves actress has been a large advocate for more representation of minorities and women in the movie world. In a 2016 interview with CBS News, she discussed how Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign would be opening a door for the feminist movement to enter Hollywood. “The symbolism behind a woman leading the country is so powerful,” said Rodriguez, “I promise you if Hillary Clinton becomes president, Hollywood is going to be all over the feminist movement,” and she proceeded to explain how despite how sad it is that women have to wait for an opportunity like this, it is still an opportunity at the end of the day.
While this video circulates around once again, it’s not only important to remember the importance of ensuring that celebrities’ words aren’t being taken out of context, but also that Michelle Rodriguez is a supporter of minorities in Hollywood. Her words have truth behind them, and hopefully it can be another wake-up call for Hollywood to bring more originality that better represents minority cultures.
Top image: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons