"I didn't think anybody would ever write a role for me. I didn't fit the bill. I was too multicultural. There was no place for me," was how Vin Diesel explained his early Hollywood reality on an Atlanta set for the Fast Five in October 2010.
Hollywood's "whites only" attitude, especially for leading man roles, is what prompted Diesel to write, produce, direct and star in his 1994 life-as-art frustration short, Multi-Facial about not being black enough or white enough to make the cinematic cut. The short, which landed in the Cannes Film Festival, got Steven Spielberg's attention and the legendary director cast Diesel in a small role in the Oscar-winning Saving Private Ryan. Then, in 2001, Diesel's career got a major jolt with the blockbuster The Fast and the Furious.
A novel approach to the salt-and-pepper buddy flick concept that had successfully paired the likes of Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte, The Fast and the Furious, coincidentally built around an article from VIBE magazine about street racing, proved to be no laughing matter. Diesel, who was coming off successful runs in Pitch Black and Boiler Room, was the star power that jump-started the film, with the blue-eyed, blonde Hollywood poster boy Paul Walker following his lead. Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez rounded out the main cast but Asian actor Rick Yune and then hip-hop star Ja Rule did have significant input, not to mention the cars themselves. Actually, The Fast and the Furious was a major wake-up call that Detroit no longer dominated the world auto industry.