Mayte Michelle Rodriguez
July 12, 1978
With a Dominican mother and Puerto Rican father, Michelle had quite the diverse upbringing. Around the age of nine, she moved with her family to the Dominican Republic where she says she learned Spanish and consequently "forgot every word of English" she knew.
Her family also spent time in Puerto Rico until finally moving to New Jersey where Michelle would spend the majority of her young adulthood. During her adolescence, Michelle was raised as a Jehovah's Witness, a religious background which she eventually grew apart from.
While her mother enforced a strict and proper upbringing, her father challenged Michelle to learn from the "school of life", a dichotomy which she says "created what you see in front of you".
Michelle first developed her "tough girl" persona due to the often rough environments in which she grew up. Michelle refers to herself as "the joker" in school, something which likely contributed to the five schools she was kicked out of growing up. Feeling that she "wasn't really being educated", she dropped out of high school and later obtained her G.E.D. before briefly attending business school. Realizing that she could not spend her life being "sun deprived and stuck in an office," she quit school and set her sights on becoming a writer and director, and decided acting could be the outlet to get her there.
After doing extra work for two years with little success and even less money, Michelle finally spotted an ad in Backstage Magazine for a 'young latina' boxing role. Young and inexperienced, she showed up to the audition on her own terms: on roller-blades, late, and unprepared. The Girlfight casting directors saw something unique in Michelle and her attitude (even perceiving her as a 'young female Marlon Brando'-type), resulting in Michelle beating out more than 350 others for the part. The 2000 role garnered Michelle numerous awards and nominations and much critical acclaim. This success launched Michelle as a young star quickly on the rise in Hollywood.
Still going strong off the success of her independent film debut, Michelle appeared opposite Danny Glover in Showtime's made-for-TV drama 3 A.M., followed in 2001 with the adrenaline-charged mega-hit The Fast and the Furious opposite Vin Diesel. An avid gamer who has since lent her voice to various popular games including True Crime: Streets of LA, Driver3, and Halo 2, Michelle then jumped at the opportunity to play a role in her next film, Resident Evil, an adaptation of the hit video game series.
With these films under her belt, Michelle began to seal her position as the go-to "tough girl" in Hollywood, combining her physically strong believability with a natural beauty and unforced sex-appeal. She then took to Hawaii for the first time to play in the summer surfing flick Blue Crush in 2002. In 2003, Michelle played a police officer opposite Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Farrell in the blockbuster S.W.A.T. In 2005, a new chapter of her career began when she took a starring role in ABC's hit television series Lost, playing haunted and hardened ex-cop "Ana Lucia". Having since ended her run on the series, she is currently hard at work on many new projects.
Michelle starred in the dramatic indie Battle in Seattle with Charlize Theron and appeared in Fast & Furious alongside Vin Diesel. She appears in the historical biopic Tropico de Sangre which she co-produced with her production company, Cheshire Kat Productions, and in James Cameron's Avatar as Trudy Chacon.
- Was raised in Texas, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and in Jersey City.
- Is of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent.
- She beat out 350 other girls for the role of Diana Guzman in Girlfight (2000).
- Girlfight (2000) was her first acting audition, and she got the role. The Fast and the Furious (2001) was her second audition, and she also got that role.
- Is an avid in-line skater.
- Didn't have a driver's license before filming The Fast and the Furious (2001) and had to obtain one during her training for the car chase sequences.
- Plays the piano.
- Has two half-sisters on her father's side.
- Has two older twin brothers named Raul and Omar.
- Dropped out of high school at 17, but she went back and graduated via an equivalency diploma.
- Ranked #77 in Stuff magazine's "102 Sexiest Women In The World" (2002).
- Ranked #34 in Maxim's "100 Sexiest Women" (2002).
- It was announced in 2005 that she would be joining the second season cast of the hit ABC drama Lost (2004).
- She was the original choice for the title role in Æon Flux (2005).
- When interviewed to join the cast of Lost (2004) as a tough LAPD cop, she insisted that she would only sign on for one year because she is a "nomadic spirit". The producers came up with a storyline and sold the idea of the short contract to the network.
- Is often seen singing karaoke alongside Lindsay Lohan, Bo Barrett, Emile Hirsch, and Nicole Richie at Beverly Hills hot spot "Guys" .
- Has Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).
- Girlfight (2000)
- The Fast and the Furious (2001)
- 3 AM (2001)
- Blue Crush (2002)
- Resident Evil (2002)
- SWAT (2003)
- Control (2004)
- BloodRayne (2005)
- The Breed (2006)
- Battle in Seattle (2007)
- A Cat's Tale (2008)
- Gardens of the Night (2008)
- Fast & Furious (2009)
- Trópico de Sangre (2009)
- Avatar (2009)
- Machete (2010)
- Battle: Los Angeles (2011) (post-production)