Mayte Michelle Rodriguez (born July 12, 1978), better known as Michelle Rodriguez, is an American actress, mostly known for playing tough-girl roles and starring in Hollywood blockbusters such as Fast & Furious, Resident Evil, and S.W.A.T. as well as her role as Ana Lucia Cortez in the television series Lost.
Rodriguez was born in Bexar County, Texas, the daughter of Carmen Milady (née Pared), a native of the Dominican Republic, and Rafael Rodriguez, a Puerto Rican who served in the U.S. Army. She has a total of ten half-siblings or siblings. She was partly raised by her devoutly religious maternal grandmother and was brought up as one of Jehovah's Witnesses (her mother's religion), though she has since abandoned that specific faith. Rodriguez moved to the Dominican Republic with her mother when she was eight and lived in Puerto Rico until the age of 11, later settling in Jersey City, New Jersey. She dropped out of high school but later earned her GED. Rodriguez briefly attended business school before quitting to pursue a career in acting with the ultimate goal of becoming a writer and director.
Having run across an ad for an open casting call and attending her first audition, Rodriguez beat 350 other applicants to win her first role in the low-budget 2000 independent film, Girlfight. Rodriguez's performance as Diana Guzman, a troubled teen who decides to channel her aggression by training to become a boxer, was recognized by both critics and audiences, but despite major industry buzz of a possible Academy Award nomination, she did not receive the Oscar nod. Rodriguez did however accumulate several other significant awards and nominations for the role in independent circles, including major acting accolades from the National Board of Review, Deauville Film Festival, Independent Spirit Awards, Gotham Awards, Las Vegas Film Critics Sierra Awards, and many others. The film itself took home top prizes at both the Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals.
Subsequently, she has had notable roles in other successful movies, including The Fast and the Furious, Resident Evil, Blue Crush, and S.W.A.T. In 2004, Rodriguez lent her voice to the video game Halo 2, playing a Marine. She also provided the voice of Liz Ricarro in the Cartoon Network series IGPX. From 2005 to 2006, she played tough cop Ana Lucia Cortez on the television series Lost during the show's second season (the character's first appearance was a flashback on season 1's finale, Exodus: Part 1), and returned for a cameo in the second episode of the show's fifth season in 2009. In 2006, Rodriguez was featured in her own episode of G4's show Icons.
In 2008, she appeared in Battle in Seattle alongside Charlize Theron. Rodriguez next appeared in the latest installment of the The Fast and the Furious franchise, which was titled simply Fast & Furious and released to theaters on April 3, 2009. Rodriguez can also be seen in James Cameron's $200 million sci-fi adventure Avatar, due out December 18, 2009.
She recently wrapped filming on Trópico de Sangre, an independent film she is co-producing with her production company Cheshire Kat Productions, based on the Dominican Republic's historic Mirabal sisters who were assassinated in 1960 by the Dominican dictator Trujillo for opposing his rule.
Rodriguez is currently slated to begin filming on Robert Rodriguez's Machete, after which she will appear alongside Aaron Eckhart in the sci-fi film Battle: Los Angeles.