Why 'Alita: Battle Angel' Star Rosa Salazar Is 'Galvanizing' Latinx Culture in Film (Exclusive)

Director Robert Rodriguez and producer Jon Landau also opened up to ET about why it's so important to put Latinas on screen.

The Alita: Battle Angel cast and crew are all about diversity and representation!

ET’s Deidre Behar spoke with actress Rosa Salazar at the film’s press junket in Los Angeles, where the Peruvian-American star opened up about why it's so important to represent Latinas on the big screen.
“I'll tell you why, my name is Rosa Bianca Salazar. I carry that name with pride and I know what team I’m on and I want to push it home for the team,” Salazar, 33, proudly stated. “[With Alita], I really feel we are galvanizing. It was a great responsibility to take on.”

“When I was going to the theater -- which, by the way, Latinos make up the most number of people who actually put their asses in seat. We go see films. We buy tickets. We may not buy the snacks. We buy them off-site,” she joked. “But we buy the tickets and we see the movie...But I didn’t see myself represented in all this glory, represented on screen.”

The CGI action-adventure film tells the story of a teenage cyborg (Salazar) who finds herself in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic world where she fights a myriad of other battle-ready machines while defending her friends and community.

“What this movie does, it gives young women and young boys a female protagonist to relate to,” she continued. “Because anyone can relate to the journey of Alita, somebody who at first feels insignificant and then goes on a journey of self-discovery and discovers within themselves the power and hero inside of them.”

As for director Robert Rodriguez, who has been at the forefront of putting Latinas like Salma Hayek, Michelle Rodriguez and Eiza Gonzalez — who also stars in Alita — front and center in his projects, he grew up being surrounded by women in his family.

“It was really strange growing up and not seeing more Latin heroes, and also not seeing more women heroes,” Rodriguez explained. “I mean, my sisters are badass! There’s five boys, five girls, very equal in the house, but not in media. So when I started making movies, all my early characters, my first short film, my first comic strip, Spy Kids, [are] all based on my sisters. That little girl that goes through all my movies is based on my five sisters put together. And when I read Alita, I said, ‘There’s my sister again, but also my daughter. It was my worldview and I wasn't seeing the representation that I was used to being around on the screen at all.”

Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

For producer Jon Landau it was his mother. “My mom was a maverick in the business industry, and she’s still fighting that fight every day for women.”

Alita is definitely filled with girl power and as Salazar sums it up, “I know what it's like to be a woman and anybody who is going on this harrowing journey deserves a pat on the back, and at the very least, some representation on screen.”

Alita: Battle Angel is now in theaters. See ET's interview with Rodriguez in the video below.

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