Why Did Michelle Rodriguez Demand 'F9' Add a Female Writer (and Are They Going to Space)?

Diversity and inclusion matter to everyone, even the actors. 

The Fast and Furious franchise has always been the place you go for men with big muscles, cars with big engines, and talk of "family" over and over again. But it hasn't exactly been the place for fleshed-out female characters. 

All that's about to change. 

While a guest on Wednesday's SiriusXM's The Jess Cagle Show, Michelle Rodriguez, who plays Letty in most of the series' 9 movies, explained why she demanded a female writer be hired for the series.

Basically, she was sick of being relegated to playing someone with one note. 

Rodriguez had had enough of the stories being male-centric, with her male co-stars being given depth and range while she and the women around her never got to arc

"A lot of my necessity to have a female writer was just really more about candor," she began, adding, in her opinion, the male writers prefer "a one dimensionalized" female character.

In a separate interview with Jessica Shaw on SiriusXM’s EW Live, she explained, "Guys get excited about their own stories. So it's almost like a forgetfulness. And so it's just kind of like having to remind them gently from the sidelines for years that you exist, you know? And that you're loud and that you're hardcore and that you won't take shit from anybody."

She continued, "All the (male writers) are focused on the guys, period. It's just an egoist natural thing. People just care about themselves usually, or people who look like them or act like them or have the same genitalia, I don't know. It's just how it works."

After Rodriguez raised these issues with creators, they did add a (so far) uncredited female to come in to flesh out the female characters' storylines. We don't know who it is, but Rodriguez mentioned she is also a writer on HBO's Westworld.

"She's a freaking awesome African American woman who just gets it, she's down to earth, she's urban," Rodriguez explained. "You got to also understand the multicultural aspect of it. It's hard to have a guy from Beverly Hills who maybe sometimes hangs out or listens to hip-hop and thinks that he may know what that kind of, you know, rapport is between street kids."

"I wanted all the females in Fast & Furious to get some love," she said.

I think there is a lot to admire here. The first thing is one of the female characters on a major franchise having the power to stand up for what she believes. The second is the producers listening to her. 

Studio movies are usually written by one person in the initial draft, but the story, concept, polish, and on-set writing is almost always done by a committee. So it's not a problem to have outside perspectives brought in to help make things feel more natural. 

While the release was pushed thanks to COVID, rumors have swirled about the franchise. When asked about the major one, that the movie has a "space" element to it, this is how Rodriquez answered: 

"Oh, no way. How did you guys find that out? See what happens? People start talking behind the scenes, man. When a movie doesn’t come out and forget about it, things get out. Nobody was supposed to know that…Oh, well, no, I’m not, I’m not, I’m not lucky enough to hit space, but we did get a female writer and showed a lot of love, I think, on this one. Thanks to…Justin Lin. We were able to find a little bit more attention and love for the girls in the movie. And so I’m really hopeful that that, that shows through in the final product."

Hopefully, not too much spills before Fast and Furious 9 (F9) finds its way into theaters supposedly next summer. 

What do you think of Rodriguez's comments on the writing and upward direction of the series? 

Let us know in the comments. 

Write your own blockbuster. So much of what we're talking about on No Film School when it comes to screenwriting is summarized in our new eBook. It also helps guide you through a 10-week writing plan that will get your script actually finished.     

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5 Comments

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September 14, 2020 at 11:24PM, Edited September 14, 11:26PM

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I like this

September 15, 2020 at 6:44AM

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Andrew
1

This is historic. The first character in fast and the furious with a character arc will be a woman.

September 15, 2020 at 3:46PM

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cee dee
430

I can’t wait for quotas and the robotification of virtue. Please tell me which box has the best label and I’ll crawl inside it and defend it against all other boxes

September 16, 2020 at 5:38AM

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Aaron Harper
Rental House Manager
398

This is an important moment for male lead genre films like F9 to look at gender perspective. Too often the reaction by producers to the male-female on-screen/story balance is to either create a film enforcing negative stereotypes on men (which just entrenches the problem of gender division further). Or dominate the cast and crew with women as a way of 'proving their worth'. I couldn't agree more that the male crew both above and below the line need to have a better gender balance but again by washing one side clear due to a gender bias only informs both sides that there are in fact 'SIDES'!

Tricky subject but I like how vocal Rodriguez is in not only raising awareness but informing change through her platform...long may this continue!

September 16, 2020 at 9:24AM

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