If you’ve had it with those stereotypical portrayals of Latinas on U.S. television, you’re not alone. Chicago-born, college-educated Gina Rodriguez grew up without seeing anyone like herself—she is of Puerto Rican descent—on U.S. television. For someone whose ambition was to become a serious actress, that omission was more than just disappointing.
Buzzfeed quotes Gina as saying, “‘I realized how limiting that was for me. I would look at the screen and think, ‘Well, there’s no way I can do it, because I’m not there.’”
She is hard-working, talented, and determined to change that.
Her inspirational response to the dilemma of not seeing professional Latinas in the entertainment media? “‘[I]t’s like as soon as you follow your dreams, you give other people the allowance to follow theirs.’”
This Fall, you’ll be able to see Gina as the lead in Jane the Virgin, a television show inspired by a Venezuelan telenovela. Describing just why she chose this role, as Hitfix reports, Gina managed to charm a group of sleep-deprived critics on a recent press tour.
The charmed press corps is now playing their own role: helping Gina achieve her key goal of inspiring young Latinas by promoting her upcoming show. But Gina clearly is in charge of the message this time.
Hitfix and Buzzfeed’s articles, for example, both quote Gina’s heart-felt, straight-talking speech: “‘Our stories have been told, and they’re not unmoralistic, you know, being a maid is fantastic….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.’”
Wisdom from someone who is just 28 years old.
As the speech went on, she became increasingly inspirational, saying that “‘I wasn’t going to let my introduction to the world be one of a story that I think has been told many times.’”
The good news keeps coming: Hitfix adds that that Gina’s new role accomplishes more than just seeing a Latina on TV in a new way: the role also will help debunk cultural myths about Latina women in loving relationships that media have helped promote in the past.
Determined to succeed
Instead of becoming discouraged, this determined Latina followed her childhood dream. As her biography outlines, at age 16 she was one of thirteen accepted into Columbia University NY-Theatrical Collaboration. Then came the payoff: acceptance into the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, and she was on her way.
She worked hard to learn her craft, studying with the likes of David Mamet and William H. Macy. Not long after graduating, Gina landed the role of Frida Kahlo in the world premiere of Casa Blue: The Last Moments in the Life of Frida Kahlo at the American Stage Theatre.
A number of theater, film, and television opportunities—and several awards—followed, which finally led to her new breakthrough role.
Latina rising—and helping other Latinas to reach for the stars
Indeed, this new show is more than simply an acting job for Gina. She views this key new role as providing inspiration for young, educated, U.S.-born Latinas that she never had while growing up by seeing someone like themselves on television.
Gina hopes that her role—and her rising star—will inspire Latina girls to become the professionals they want to be—regardless of the profession—and to feel comfortable in their own skin. She views Jane the Virgin as an opportunity to help light that path for young Latinas, and for that reason she says, “‘this is a dream come true to me.’” The show will air on the CW network this Fall.