Michelle Rodriguez was born in San Antonio, Texas and grew up there, in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Jersey City, New Jersey.
Given her Hispanic heritage and roots in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, it might be tempting to assume Rodriguez is Catholic. But this isn't the case. Her grandparents were devout Jehovah's Witnesses and during her childhood, Rodriguez was also an adherent of that faith. However, she cites the church's advocacy of a sheltered life and her father's influence for ultimately leaving the Jehovah's Witnesses. She said:
[Jehovah's Witness] is a very morally intense religion… they keep you from experiencing a lot of the bad things that can really hurt you out there in the world, they are also depriving you from experiencing life. And a lot of things you learn from after being in life… whenever I would visit my dad, it was like Freud and Darwin, and 'learn for yourself,' and 'play chess,' and experience things for yourself. So I grew up torn.
The only other encounter with religion Rodriguez has had (that I can find) is in regards to her former fiance, a Muslim, who wanted her to adopt various Islamic traditions having to do with female propriety after the marriage. She said:
We got on fine and he respected me, until it came round to a marriage proposal. He then listed all the things he wanted me to do, like cover up my body and show nothing but my eyes… I told him, 'I thought you knew by now that nobody rules me.'
Films and Race Politics
Rodriguez is politically vague–perhaps contradictory. But I'll let you be the judge of that. She seems to have initially been romanced by Obama's "Hope & Change" 2008 campaign motto. When she was considering a role for the film Machete, she said:
After I read the script, I realized this is about a symbol of hope. It was kind of the way we felt about Obama when he was first elected.
But that quote sort of implies a bit of disappointment, doesn't it?
Rodriguez played a woman protesting the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the film Battle In Seattle, but when asked about her feelings on activism, she seemed to side with the capitalists. According to Rodriguez, the only way to get things done in our society is to be all moneyed-up. She said:
I'm down with joining the herd of capitalistic corporations, but just being conscientious about it. I think you can do more good by being productive in society, with monetary means, because then you're respected by both parties.
I could see that being a bit demoralizing to the throngs of poor people who want to make a difference.
But if you really want to see Rodriguez fired up, get her talking about race labels. She's tired of being billed as a Latino actress and would rather just be recognized for her dramatic skills. She once lamented:
No matter what, people are so narrow minded that it won't ever be Michelle Rodriguez the actress, it will always be Michelle Rodriguez the Latin actress… people need labels to understand things. I can't even get into this ignorance that I'm dealing with. So I just ignore it, you know? Ignore the ignorance.