Being a feminist is “like taking the red pill,” says Eréndira Ibarra, the Mexican/American actress who rounds out the cast of The Matrix Resurrections. She plays Lexi, one of the freed humans who exist outside of the computer-generated reality and serves on the crew, helping Keanu Reeves’ Neo. “You can’t see anything ever the same ever.”
The original 1999 film made about as big a cultural impact as a movie can make. But as the decades wore on, it became the patron saint for the conspiracy-theory-loving dude bros. As is their way, they quickly became the loudest voices on the subject, making being a superfan of The Matrix a red flag akin to loving Dave Matthews Band or following Elon Musk on Twitter.
That The Matrix was directed by two trans women escaped many of these straight, white, cis fellas and they are in for a rude awakening with the series’ fourth installment, out in theaters and HBO Max December 22. Hyper self-aware and out to undercut any misogynistic readings of the original trilogy, this new version is the antidote to any and all problematic male fantasies. Instead, it’s upfront about its feminism, making Trinity Neo’s equal and his helpers, like Ibarra’s Lexy, fierce female fighters.
Being a feminist is like taking the red pill.
Ibarra’s no stranger to barrier-breaking productions. She played Mariana in Mexico’s Las Aparicio. It was a career highlight for her, telling LatinaMedia.Co, “[it was] the first [openly] lesbian character television in Mexico to get married and to have a dignified life and not just be a stereotype that is hurtful for our community.” Ibarra is public about her bisexuality and also played Daniela Velázquez in Sense8. That role brought her together with Lana Wachowski, who created both that Netflix cult-favorite series and, of course, the Matrix franchise.
Ibarra comes by this activism honestly, citing her dad who “was a war correspondent for over 20 years” and “a human rights activist in Latin America.” She calls her mom “a beautiful soul who’s in love with film and theater and everything in the performing arts.” Born in Mexico City, Ibarra split her childhood between Mexico with her dad and San Jose, California with her mom. Of her cross-border upbringing, she says “I never felt quite at home anywhere,” noting how she was always the “exotic” one wherever she went.
But let’s save our tears. Ibarra is quick to note her privilege, calling herself a white Mexican and saying she doesn’t “identify whatsoever” with the term “Latina,” because of the big differences in Latin American society: “It’s very easy to put us all in the same box, but we’re definitely not in the same box. And we definitely fight and struggle through different levels of oppression… [in a] racist and classist society.”
My wildest ambition is that every single movie set looks like the set of ‘Matrix.’
So while coming up in Hollywood she heard things like “Oh, you’re ethnically ambiguous,” and “You don’t look Mexican,” Ibarra doesn’t consider that discrimination. Instead, she notes the real difference between herself and Indigenous and other communities who “fight discrimination every single day,” whether in the U.S. or Mexico.
With that self-awareness, social justice is her compass, on screen and off. She remembers someone instructing her to take down her anti-racist and feminist posts from social media so as not to “turn people off.” She refused, declaring “This is who I am. And if you want to be a part of the world that I want to change, and you want to work with me to rebuild and deprogram all this BS that has been fed to us, then, come follow me, and let’s see what we can do. But if not, then, you have been warned what this profile is about.”
Ibarra declares, “my wildest ambition is that every single movie set looks like the set of Matrix and we can continue to create projects and art that transforms our reality and heals all the pain and the trauma that we’ve had” across societies. She’s calling for “structural change,” in the industry, meaning “opening space behind cameras… I want to walk on a set where I see women and diverse people represented in every single corner [and occupying that space] with dignity.” We agree.
Catch Ibarra in The Matrix Resurrections in theaters now.