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Michelle Rodriguez has forged a 'caliente' career playing tough-gal characters

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Michelle Rodriguez may have rose to popularity as Vin Diesel’s ride-or-die in the Fast and the Furious movie franchise, but don’t get it twisted — she’s an action star in her own right.

Rodriguez, who lived in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic before settling down in New Jersey, got her breakout role when she was 21. That memorable character was a boxer in the 2000 movie Girlfight. “I try to stick to what keeps me active, movement, independence, freedom, all those things; I try to find them in film,” she said in a red carpet interview.

Michelle Rodriguez, star of the film “Girlfight.” (Photo: Jeff Katz/Getty Images)
Michelle Rodriguez, star of the film “Girlfight.” (Photo: Jeff Katz/Getty Images)

In 2001, she joined the now-17-year-old movie franchise Fast and the Furious. She has played Letty in five of the eight Fast films. “To see what’s on paper, and then see what comes out on screen, that’s when you know the work we’ve put in — the sweat and the love that we’ve poured into the franchise really shines through,” Rodriguez said. That role opened the door to other incredible opportunities on both the big and small screen. She’s been in more than 30 movies and has appeared in 26 episodes of the hit TV show Lost. In her latest film, Widows, Rodriguez joins forces with Viola Davis for an all-female heist.

Jordana Brewster, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel at the premiere of “The Fast and the Furious” in 2001. (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Jordana Brewster, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel at the premiere of “The Fast and the Furious” in 2001. (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Rodriguez has also been dubbed the “$5 Billion Woman.” EW gave her the title in 2013 for being the most iconic actress in the action genre, as well as one of the most visible Latinas in Hollywood. The cumulative global gross of her films is more than $5 billion. That includes movies like Avatar and Resident Evil. “I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone’s, with all its flaws, quirks, and imperfections. I love what I do,” she said. And fans love you for always being you.

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