The actress previously threatened to leave the franchise becauseĀ of the lack of female representation on and off the screen
FAST & FURIOUS 6, Michelle Rodriguez, 2013. ph: Giles Keyte/©Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Michelle Rodriguez has always prioritized female empowerment in her work, and pushed The Fast and The Furious movies to do the same early on.

To celebrate the Fast franchise's 20th anniversary, some of the cast sat down with Entertainment Weekly to reflect on their time making the hit movies. There, it was revealed that Rodriguez, 42, asked for rewrites in the first film, 2001's The Fast and the Furious, because her character lacked the depth she felt she deserved.

Fellow cast member Jordana Brewster recalled the incident in the oral history, saying Rodriguez, who plays Letty Ortiz, refused to play the character at first.

"When Michelle read her role, she was like, 'No, I'm not playing that.' And then she changed it completely. It went from a trophy girlfriend to this really layered character," Brewster said.

Rodriguez wanted the writers to edit the original script in order to empower her character, who she believed didn't sound realistic.

"It was a reality check for them to realize that the streets don't work like that. You don't just get with a guy because he's hot. There's a hierarchy there. Can that hot guy get beat up by who you're dating? If he can, then you don't date him, because why would you want to lose the hierarchy?" Rodriguez explained.

She continued, "In order to keep it real, I had to school them: 'I know you guys like Hollywood and all that, but if you want it to be realistic, this is how it really works, and I'm not going to be a slut in front of millions of people, so you're going to lose me if you don't change this.' And they figured it out."

In the oral history, producer Neal H. Moritz acknowledged The Fast and the Furious was written by male screenwriters and said it was "nice to have that female perspective and really try and dive deep." 

The actress has been vocal about the lack of female representation in the past. In June 2017, when announcing the release of F8 on digital platforms, the actress criticized the franchise and threatened to quit. 

"I hope they decide to show some love to the women of the franchise on the next one," she wrote on an Instagram post. "Or I just might have to say goodbye to a loved franchise."

In May 2019, Rodriguez revealed she would be reprising her role in the upcoming 9th Fast and Furious movie because Universal Pictures hired a female writer to co-pen the screenplay.

"Donna [Langley, Chairman of Universal Pictures] came on board, the woman came on board at the studio, and agreed to have that female voice on board so the guys aren't basically interpreting that female voice on paper. 'Cause it's annoying, I rewrite all my stuff! I'm tired of being a writer and an actress, you know? It's kind go cool that I had that freedom, but it's frivolous," Rodriguez said.

F9 is set to release June 25, 2021.