Michelle Rodriguez Talks Growing Up in Jersey City: "If You Didn’t Adapt, You Die"

Michelle Rodriguez Bullied
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Seeing Michelle Rodriguez today, you would never guess she was a victim of bullying.

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The 38-year-old, who's known for her tough exterior and playing some of the most badass roles on screen, recently opened up about being bullied as a teen — an experience that has actually helped her with one of her latest roles.

"I was bullied as a kid, but I dealt with it a lot differently, because I was at a different level growing up in Jersey City," she said, according to The Hollywood Reporter, at the premiere of the film Milton's Secret, which is about a young boy dealing with bullying. "If you didn’t adapt, you die — or parts of your soul would be crushed."

She continued, "People were just really mean in Jersey City. I had to learn to fight really early.” The actress moved from Puerto Rico to Jersey City with her family at the age of 17.

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Rodriguez's first-hand encounter is what's led her to become an advocate for anti bullying. "I'm more sensitive now, because I've always been a very tomboyish," she told Entertainment Tonight. "I just never gave a f**k about words. Now I understand that I have to respect words, and words are powerful, and they are dangerous, and they hurt people."