If this is the first you’re hearing of Gina Rodriguez, 1) know it won’t be the last, and 2) you are welcome. The 28-year-old actress has landed a starring role on the new (fall) CW series, Jane The Virgin. Adapted from a popular Venezuelan telenovela, Jane is an hour-long series that follows a young woman who is artificially inseminated—by accident. (umm, can anyone else say YIKES?) It’s described by its creators as “Ugly Betty meets Gilmore Girls,” but it seems highly likely that this new dramedy—and its heroine!— will fill certain awesome-lady-sized holes recently left in the fabric of TV land (looking at you, 30 Rock and, soon to be, Parks&Rec)
Besides the show’s original (and, let’s face it, VERY TERRIFYING) premise, Jane the Virgin also hopes to break ground by portraying a mainstream Latino family on network television—which, with very few exceptions, remains something of a unicorn scenario for Hollywood. Rodriguez is already an eloquent advocate for more diversity on screen, and, in interviews, she’s made a point to underline Jane‘s potential significance. Simply put? Gina is a norm-challenging, hyper-articulate bad-ass actor and we just want her to Be. Our. FRIEND.
Rodriguez chose Jane the Virgin over another project—a Lifetime series called Devious Maids. When asked about her choice, she snapped into hero mode: “I found [Maids] limiting for the stories Latinos have, for the story Americans have. . .Being a maid is fantastic; I have many family members who have fed their children in that role. But there are other stories. . .I have two older sisters, an investment banker and a doctor, and I didn’t see that story on screen.” PREACH, lady!
Rodriguez thinks Jane‘s cast of characters could very well become role models for young women who don’t often see themselves in starring roles. “I think that the media is a venue and an avenue to educate and teach our next generation,” she said in a recent interview. “And, sadly, right now the perception they have of Latinos in America are very specific to maid, landscape, pregnant teen. . .Mind you, I am playing pregnant but not a teen.”
The lady’s interested in expressing a whole big gamut of characters—including ones with a body-positive outlook. “I wanted a story that was going to liberate young girls and say, ‘Wow, there we are too, and we’re the doctors, and we’re the teachers, and we’re the writers, and we’re the lawyers, and I can do that too. And I don’t have to be a perfect size zero. I can be a perfect size me.’ And that’s what I live.”
Rodriguez has a fantastic explanation for why she chose to go into show-biz.: “I didn’t become an artist to be a millionaire. I didn’t become an actor to wear Louis Vuitton. I have to give this dress back when we’re done. I became an actor to change the way I grew up. The way I grew up, I never saw myself on screen.”
Rodriguez always has one eye on her fans. She told Latina magazine, “as soon as you follow your dreams, you give other people the allowance to follow theirs.”
Featured image via Fandango.