Michelle Rodriguez Says She Developed Her Tomboy Style as a Kid for Protection (Exclusive)

"Underneath that armor, I’m a very feminine creature," says the Fast X star

Janell Shirtcliff
Janell Shirtcliff

Michelle Rodriguez says her outside appearance doesn't always reflect what's inside.

"I grew up in the ghetto," says the Texas native, 44. "You grow up quick when you're in poverty and see kids having kids — teen moms are a big thing. I was such a tomboy because I was scared of getting pregnant," says the Fast X star. "But if you dig deep, underneath all of that armor, I'm a very feminine creature."

Janell Shirtcliff
Janell Shirtcliff

Rodriguez, who is featured in PEOPLE's Most Beautiful issue on stands Friday, says these days she feels most beautiful when she's outdoors and moving.

"When I'm working out, when I'm being healthy, when I'm by the beach and in nature — that's when I feel the most beautiful," she says.

The actress, who most recently starred in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, adds that over the years, she's learned the importance of taking time for yourself and those you love.

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"The older I get, the more I realize that everything needs to be nurtured. Your relationships, your animals, your body, your physical spirituality, your psychology, all of it needs to be fed, watered and loved," she says. "It's an ongoing thing. And it starts with you loving yourself."

Janell Shirtcliff
Janell Shirtcliff

Related:Michelle Rodriguez Told James Cameron He 'Can't' Resurrect Her 'Avatar' Character: 'Overkill'

For the 10th installment of the Fast and the Furious franchise, Fast X, in theaters May 19, Rodriguez says it was a pinch me moment having so many Oscar-winning women in the cast.

"We've got Rita Moreno, Charlize Theron, Brie Larson. It's insane. I'm just astounded," she says. "Helen Mirren! I mean, come on. It's like drop the mic."

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