After conquering the big and little screens, Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez is putting on her producer hat. The 33-year-old actress has two separate television development deals in the works, according to Deadline.
Under her company, I Can & I Will Productions, the Chicago boricua star sold Have Mercy to CBS. Based on German format Dr. Illegal, the hourlong series Have Mercy will follow a Latina doctor who is unable to practice once she moves to Miami. Demoted to nurse, she begins an illegal medical clinic out of her home. Dr. Illegal focused on Iranian refugee Dr. Omid Afarid. After an error with his paperwork, he cannot become licensed as a doctor in Germany. With his family still living in an asylum seekers hostel, he begins to treat some of the refugees there, stealing drugs from a hospital and putting the Afarids future at risk.
Other than the shift to a Latina lead, it’s not yet clear how much Have Mercy will deviate from the original. But just like Dr. Illegal, the show will highlight the struggles many immigrants – regardless of status – face when starting over and trying to find jobs that line with their experiences.
Rodriguez’s second show will highlight another aspect of the immigrant experience. Working alongside Rafael Agustin, an actor and current writer on Jane the Virgin, Rodriguez will develop Illegal for the CW. This series tells the story of a high schooler who learns he’s undocumented. Rodriguez will serve as the producer for Illegal, but the show is really the brainchild of Agustin, who based it on his life as an undocumented immigrant born in Ecuador. Earlier this year, Agustin sat down with Remezcla to discuss Illegal, an “edgy Latino” take on The Wonder Years that he initially developed as an Episodic Story Lab Fellow at the Sundance Institute.
The series couldn’t be more timely. On September 5, President Donald Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program – which for five years has allowed young undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows and given them the chance to work and go to school, all without the fear of deportation that plagues this community. As Trump uses the highest office in the country to deliver xenophobic, anti-immigrant messages, we need more examples that challenge this narrative. We need more stories that delve into why people immigrate to the United States, that places the blame on the country for lacking paths to citizenship and not people for failing to do “the right way.” The stories of undocumented immigrants have been told in film and TV for decades, but in recent years, we’ve seen a wave of shows place more importance in these storylines.
There’s currently no production start date or indication when either series will air. But it’s clear that Rodriguez will be incredibly busy. Her production company is also developing a series adaptation of the Steve Martin fantasy drama L.A. Story for CBS. The actress – and Agustin – are gearing up for the fourth season of Jane the Virgin, airing on the CW on October 10th. And later this year, Rodriguez can also be heard in animated films The Star and Ferdinand.