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Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Actress On What She's Learned From Playing Yo-Yo - Exclusive

Unlike some of the other super-powered cast members of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Natalia Cordova-Buckley didn't have to wait around for her character to get special abilities. The very first time that we met Elena "Yo-Yo" Rodriquez, an Inhuman with super-speed who always snaps back to her point of origin, she was already taking the fight to the streets of her native Colombia, and using her unique powers to battle government corruption.

For a show like S.H.I.E.L.D., which tends to give its characters long and involved origin stories, having Yo-Yo show up fully-formed wasn't only a nice change of pace. It also taught Cordova-Buckley an important lesson.

"She doesn't get her super powers and go, like in most superhero stories, 'Woe is me. Why did I inherit these powers? Why did I get them? I'm such a victim of them,'" Cordova-Buckley explains during an exclusive interview with Looper. "She immediately finds out she has them and, even though she's scared ... she realizes that they're only worthy of her to have them if they're in the service of others."

That attitude made Cordova-Buckley reflect on the gifts she's been given, and how she might be able to use them to help the less fortunate. "I correlated that exactly with being a public persona, or anyone with any sort of power created by the public," the actress says. "If I am given power through the platform for change, I become a megaphone. That is given to me. I do not own that power, and I can only be worthy of having if I use it in the betterment of our world, in the service of others and those that have been oppressed, silenced, disenfranchised."

Yo-Yo's willingness to stand up for what she believes is the right thing — even if it's not a popular stance to take — was also a revelation for Cordova-Buckley. "What we say, what we do on a daily basis, has a very profound impact, and we can't just think of how it impacts us and our own individual world, but how it impacts others," she explains.

For example, near the end of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s fifth season, the characters learn that Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) has a fatal illness. "She's basically telling people, 'We have to let Coulson die,' and no one — no one, not one person on the team — gets it," Cordova-Buckley says. Even Cordova-Buckley had trouble following Yo-Yo's reasoning, but after playing the scene, she came to understand what her character was going through.

"It's a reciprocal, beautiful arrangement that Yo-Yo and I had," Cordova-Buckley says. "We'd put it in her, and it would grow into or evolve into something I could then, as an individual, learn from. So Yo-Yo became an enormous teacher for me in that way."

Why Yo-Yo Rodriquez was such a personal role for Natalia Cordova-Buckley

Natalia Cordova-Buckley may be the first member of her family to play a comic book character, but she comes by her love of Marvel honestly. As it turns out, Cordova-Buckley's grandfather was a huge Marvel fan, and she had no idea until she joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Like Cordova-Buckley, Pancho Córdova was an actor, and appeared in over 150 movies. While the bulk of his work was on Mexican productions, American viewers might know him from bit parts in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye. Córdova was a prolific screenwriter, too — he has close to 40 screenplays to his name — and directed a feature film called Los Destrampados, which debuted in 1971.

Unfortunately, Córdova passed away in 1990, over two decades before his granddaughter was cast as a bonafide superhero. Still, as Cordova-Buckley tells the story, landing a part on a Marvel show meant a lot to her and her family.

"When I got this role, my father called me in tears and said, 'Did you know that your grandfather would get in trouble with me, his son, with your aunt, his daughter, and your grandmother, his wife, all the time for spending the very little money that we had on comic books?'" she remembers. "I said to him, 'No, I didn't know that.'"

Getting a role on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was already a big deal for Cordova-Buckley, but now, the actress had a personal stake in the show as well. "Yo-Yo became even more profoundly significant because of the relationship the comics had to my grandfather," she says.

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is now in its last season. You can catch the final episodes on Wednesdays at 10 PM on ABC.