Ed Note: Julia Ahumada Grob is an actor, writer, and co-creator of the hit comedy webseries East WillyB. She got a sneak preview of Jane the Virgin and wants the Latino community to support this new show. Here’s why.
This fall television season, we are witnessing history with not one but two series, starring a Latina actress: Cristela and Jane The Virgin featuring Cristela Alonzo and Gina Rodriguez, respectively. I could not be more proud of these tremendously talented women for ushering in the new wave of TV heroine. After screening the pilot episode of Jane the Virgin, I want to make sure everyone supports this creative and magical series, because we have the power to make it a success.
Here are my five reasons why you should be tuning in to watch Jane The Virgin.
Gina Rodriguez is a shining star.
I have been following the work of this rising star since Filly Brown premiered at Sundance and Gina was crowned the festival’s “It Girl.” I’ve been lucky to call Gina a colleague and she regularly inspires me with her humility, her honest and human portrayal of characters, her comedic timing, her effortlessly cool style, and smart, sassy stage presence. She’s the type of woman every female wants as a best friend, and every guy wants as their future wifey. As an celebrity, she’s not afraid to speak her mind and give back to the community. She is perfect as Jane Villanueva, the virgin who is mistakenly artificially inseminated by her doctor, and will surely steal America’s hearts for many seasons to come.
The show features a strong Latina matriarchy.
The Villanueva family features Alba (Yvonne Coll), the religiously devout grandmother who nurtures Jane’s spiritual devotion to her virginity; Xiomara (Andrea Navedo), a single mother and former teen mom who holds the truth about Jane’s father; and Jane, an aspiring writer by day and cocktail waitress by night, who is smart, spunky and trying to make her way in the world. The three women live under one roof, watching telenovelas together, even sharing the same bed, and helping each other make sense of Jane’s pregnancy fiasco.
It's a new take on an old story.
While the series is based on the Venezuelan series Juana la Virgen, it satirizes the telenovela form and feels fresh and new. The three women religiously watch the same telenovela star Rogelio (telenovela superstar, Jaime Camil), who in a fantastical and very soap-appropriate plot twist, becomes both Jane’s imaginary guru (she hears his voice in her head and it keeps her calm) and her absentee father who now wants to play a role in Jane’s life. The series is American in it’s comedic sensibility while also paying homage to the tradition of magical realism, biblical stories, soap operas and fairytales.
The multiracial and Latino cast.
The cast reflects the diversity of Miami, with Latinos (Jane’s family and friends), whites (Jane’s boyfriend and baby daddy) and blacks (Jane’s manager) populating each scene. The characters are both working and upper class, both straight and gay. The universe that Jane inhabits reflects the diversity that so many of us live as Latinos, albeit hers is a bit more melodramatic and fantastical.
It's bilingual and proud.
The series moves effortlessly between English and Spanish, in a way that feels natural and authentic to multigenerational Latino families. Jane’s grandmother Alba (Ivonne Coll) speaks to Jane in Spanish, but Jane responds in English, just like I often do with my father. It’s both real and refreshing.
Every television development season networks clamor to find a series that can cater to the rising Latino demographic. Until now, they’ve failed because the offerings have been bad, stereotypical and therefore under watched (remember CBS’s offensive series Rob?). By watching both Jane the Virgin and Cristela we have the opportunity to prove to networks that we want authentic, creative, and fresh programming featuring Latinos in front of and behind the camera, so that there are more opportunities for Latino actors, writers, and directors to tell our stories on the big screen.
Please tune in to watch the premiere, share your thoughts on social media, and continue to tune in weekly to prove a character as bold Jane, is just the type of heroine we’ve been waiting for.
Jane the Virgin premieres on Monday, October 13 at 9pm on the CW.