If things had gone a little differently, Génesis Rodriguez, might not be providing the voice for a robot expert in the new Disney animated film, “Big Hero 6.” She could have been in a laboratory advancing the science.
When the Cuban/Venezuelan actress was growing up in Miami, she went to an all-girls school that put a heavy emphasis on preparing students to go to college. As part of her studies, she was a member of the school’s robotics team, an activity she loved. It had such an impact on her that she hopes “Big Hero 6” will inspire young people to study science.
“We’re living in a world where a lot of people are putting their personal life on social media and some kids just wanna be famous,” Rodriguez says. “I hope that with this movie, we can inspire kids to wanna be real superheroes with their brains, that they can achieve incredible things just by education and just doing really well in school. Hopefully, we can get some really good scientists after this movie.”
What pushed her into acting instead of science was her father, José Luis Rodriguez, a well-known Venezuelan actor and singer. It wasn’t until she started to step into acting roles that people began to look at her for her own accomplishments and not because of her father.
Still, she enjoyed her high school studies so much that Rodriguez wishes she had the time to work on robotics. The actress is staying busy with her film career.
In the new movie, she voices a member of a nerd team who use their brains to create super powers. Her character, Honey Lemon, carries a bag that dishes out chemical mixtures to face any problem.
She found the voice for the character by raising the pitch of her own voice a couple of octaves and trying to find a “very happy place.” At the same time, she wanted to make sure the character came across as sincere, caring, sweet, shy and a little mad scientist.
The role comes just weeks after her starring turn in the twisted sci-fi/fantasy “Tusk.” The former Telemundo star also has worked in the films “Man on a Ledge,” “The Last Stand” and “Identity Thief.”
Rodriguez is happy that many of the roles aren’t based on her ethnicity.
“There are always going to be people who see you as your color,” Rodriguez says. “Then there are creators who are color blind and hire the best person for the job. I think we are slowly moving toward that color blind state.
“For me, the part I can control are the projects that I do. Every project I do is different from the next one. That’s why they can’t put me in a box. If I start only playing the Latina suffering wife, that’s all they are going to cast me in. I’m going for the Latina Dustin Hoffman playing all kinds of roles.”
Her ethnicity did help with dubbing her own voice for the Spanish-language version of “Big Hero 6.”
Honey Lemon was a perfect match, not just for the interest in robotics the actress has but because she tends to get cast as strong female characters. She’s happy that this character is on an even playing field with all of the male characters.
There’s another reason Rodriguez is so excited about the role. She grew up with a huge Disney obsession. Every birthday party had a Disney theme; “The Little Mermaid” was her favorite. She tried to do everything Aerial did.
“I tried to comb my hair with the fork in restaurants,” Rodriguez says. “My mom would tell me, ‘Put the fork down and don’t brush your hair with a fork.’ ”