Back in 2012, a small indie film called Filly Brown premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Instantly it was a breakout hit. In Park City, on the internet, in trade publications, and on blogs people could not stop talking about the talented newcomer Gina Rodriguez. Her dazzling performance in Filly Brown as a tough, young rapper from East Los Angeles put her and the film, directed by Youssef Delara and Michael D. Olmos, on the map.
Rodriguez, who is Puerto Rican, was immediately courted by film studios and TV networks and soon after the fest signed a holding deal with ABC. She was presented various roles but turned them down. While promoting her new show Jane the Virgin during the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills this past weekend she was asked about her choice of roles. Her responses, in addition to being incisive and incredibly intelligent, made us want to be her BFF. Keep an eye on this talented Latina, very big things are to come.
On why she turned down Devious Maids
When I was presented with Devious Maids after Sundance, after I did a film at Sundance and I had an ABC holding deal, I found it limiting that that was the one that was available to me. I found it limiting for the stories that Latinos have. For the stories that Americans have, I feel like there’s a perception that people have about Latinos in America specifically — somebody growing up in Chicago, English being my first language, Spanish being my second — that we are perceived a very certain way.
On the perception of Latinos in America
Our stories have been told, and they’re not unmoralistic [sic], you know, being a maid is fantastic. You know, I have many family members that have fed many of their families on doing that job, but there are other stories that need to be told. And I think that the media is a venue and an avenue to educate and teach our next generation. And, sadly, right now the perception they have of Latinos in America are very specific to maid, landscape, pregnant teen.
On why she became an actor
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.
On how she chooses her roles
So every role that I’ve chosen has been ones that I think are going to push forward the idea of my culture, of women, of beauty, my idea of liberating young girls, of feeling that they have to look at a specific beauty type. And I wasn’t going to let my introduction to the world be one of a story that I think has been told many times
On why she said yes to Jane the Virgin
I wanted it to be 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. So Jane, I waited for her patiently. And now she’s here. And thank you for being here with us. Because this is a dream come true to me.
Jane the Virgin premieres this fall on the CW. Check out the trailer here.