Rosie Perez, a Queer Latina in Gotham City
Puerto Rican actress, Rosie Perez, plays Detective Renee Montoya in "Birds of Prey," the most diverse and feminist movie of the DC Universe.
Watch out world for these women are neither victims nor any super villain's girlfriend, much less American sweethearts. "Birds of Prey" brings to the big screen a group of fierce women, ready to arm themselves and team up to protect each other in Gotham, a city that, like many others, is far from the idea of equality.
The sequel to "Suicide Squad" puts scorned anti-heroin 'punk' Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) in the center of the action, after her break up with the Joker, been chased by a barrage of evil guys. But will that be enough for this loose cannon to become the symbol of the "angry woman," the badass feminist who fights violence with violence?
As Chinese American filmmaker Cathy Yan delivers to the DC Universe a time bomb of intersectional feminism —that subverts gender, racial roles, and even morality, we arrived at a place where good isn't that good, and justice, as you might imagine, isn't about fairness...
That is what attracted Oscar nominee Rosie Perez to play the role of Renee Montoya. A middle-aged Latina, lesbian, detective who is willing to turn a blind eye to send the "bad guys" to jail, but above all, is tired of being undervalued by the Police Department for being a woman.
“She’s been passed over, underestimated, and excluded. Yet, she still shows up every morning and does her job,” the actress told Remezcla.
Many will deem her character as "too angry" or even level her as "a bitch," but Montoya is certain women will feel identified, just as she did after injuring her meniscus, as soon as the production began.
Her determination not to be left out of the film helped her understand the character in a way she never imagined. She continued shooting, despite the unbearable pain, and that became her dramatic fuel, she says.
“I was slowly discovering who Renee Montoya was and I keep telling myself: 'No matter what she still shows up to work. And I was like, ‘I got to still show up. I got to do this.’"
But there was something else that Rosy Perez didn't overlook; the deepness of her character really on the director's and screenwriter's ability to not let Montoya be defined only by her sexual orientation or her race.
“I don’t wake up every day and shout out to the world, ‘Hey I’m Puerto Rican!’ I just am,” she says. “It’s great when our nationality or ethnicity is celebrated in film, but we are human beings first and foremost.”
For Perez, the most relevant thing about superhero movies like "Birds of Prey" is that the characters are not defined by the same racial or gender struggles that affect our reality.
"This is an alternate universe where you just are. Imagine how beautiful that would be in our world today if we didn’t have to wave the flag; if we didn’t have to fight for our rights. If we didn’t have to make it a point and demand our seat at the table. Imagine if that was the case,” she states.
Montoya does endure been teased by her male colleagues and has to live with knowing she will never become the chief because of being a woman. But Rosy Perez has not had it easy either...she has had to learn to always value dignity and responsibility as a woman and a person of color above money.
“It’s not like I’m sitting at home and nobody calls. If I could tell you the offers I get — even to this day! You have to say ‘no. I can’t do them.’ I’d rather say ‘no’ and be able to wake up in the morning and look at myself. Instead of saying, ‘Yeah, I’m going to do that,’” she concludes. Proving that alternative universes are also built upon a reality as tortuous and smelly as the sewerage of Gotham itself, especially for women.
In the face of helplessness, fear, and submission, the only way out is an iron fist, badassery, and a pack of equals that can help us set all differences aside and face a system that threatens with dividing us even farther.
As Harley Quinn would say: "You think I'm just a doll. A doll that's pink and light. I will show you just how dark I can be."