After more than a century since he first made his literary debut, the iconic Zorro — the secret persona of Don Diego de la Vega — is set to be portrayed by a woman. Deadline reports that NBC is developing a contemporary spin on the masked vigilante swordsman with filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, writer-director Rebecca Rodriguez, and Sofia Vergara at the helm. The Modern Family actress is one of the executive producers along with Luis Balaguer with her LatinWe production company but there’s no word yet on who will play the lead character.
In this retelling, the story centers on Sola Dominguez, an under the radar artist advocating social justice whose life is threatened by multiple criminal organizations after she busts their guys. Siblings Robert and Rebecca will co-write the series with Rebecca as director and Robert as executive producer. Robert has a history with the character having been set to direct the 1998 film The Mask of Zorro for which he cast Antonio Banderas. He later left the project but continued to work on action films including Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and Machete as director and/or producer. Most recently the award-winning director worked on an episode of The Mandalorian for Disney+.
While rumors will undoubtedly swirl that Vergara will take on the lead role, she’s currently only credited as a producer however if she were to play the lead it would be a major solo project for the Colombian actress. While known for her comedy chops on Modern Family, she’s no stranger to action roles having co-starred in the buddy comedy Hot Pursuit with Reese Witherspoon which she also produced.
The upcoming series marks another Latinx-driven show on TV where representation is already limited especially following the cancellation of the sitcom One Day at a Time and drama Vida on Starz. Zorro is considered a Mexican folk hero fighting criminals but his backstory is reportedly inspired by a real-life Robin Hood of sorts, according to The Independent. Mexican outlaw Joaquin Murrieta and his gang were connected with robberies and murders during the California Gold Rush however in literature he was portrayed as a champion of the people, the publication reports. “Murrieta quickly became a symbol of Mexican resistance to the influx of Anglo-Americans into California, and equally his apprehension became a priority and a point of pride for the leadership of the young state,” Andrew Gumbel wrote in The Independent.
While the series is still in development it would be a truly contemporary tale of the people’s champion if Sola Dominguez advocated for women’s rights and fought gender-based violence and machismo. Either way, this is an opportunity to develop a strong and empowering female lead character on TV and showcase Latinas as more than just a sex symbol.