While “Jane The Virgin” won Gina Rodriguez her first Golden Globe and is unequivocally her breakout moment, the actress has had brushes with fame before.
In 2012, Rodriguez earned raves at the Sundance Film Festival for her lead performance in indie “Filly Brown,” and the actress admits she herself even bought into the hype.
“With ‘Filly Brown,’ I thought — it’s Sundance, and I’m going to be this It Girl, I’m going to be like Jennifer Lawrence. I was ready to play a superhero! I’m ready to do this!” Rodriguez told TheWrap. “And it didn’t look like that. What you realize is you need to enjoy each experience and enjoy each project, and everything comes to an end. It’s not about what that’s supposed to lead to, it’s not about what your career is then supposed to look like.”
How Rodriguez’s career looks like now is brighter than ever. The CW has embraced its risky pickup of a drama based on a Venezuelan telenovela — with all the crazy twists and turns to match — and even used Rodriguez’s own Golden Globe acceptance speech transcript as a cornerstone of the show’s Emmy campaign.
On top of the awards attention, Rodriguez also landed her largest film role to date, as one of the leads in Peter Berg‘s next movie, “Deepwater Horizon,” opposite Mark Wahlberg. She’s filming it now, in between seasons on “Jane.”
In an interview, Rodriguez discussed how far she’s come since “Filly Brown,” the pressures she faces now that she’s becoming a bigger star, and why she’s glad to be trading in Jane’s fake belly for a real baby next season.
We’ve known since “Filly Brown” that you were destined for a breakout at some point. Was there something about “Jane The Virgin” in the beginning that felt to you like this is the one?
I really learned a lot about myself after “Filly Brown.” I learned that everything that’s come across my path and every experience that I’ve had has contributed to my character as a human being and as an artist. Everything’s going to end, everything’s going to have an end chapter, so if you’re enjoying that experience, if you’re enjoying that project, you’re not worried about what the rest of it is going to look like or where you’re supposed to go from there. I learned a lot from that because that’s what I thought was going to happen.
Since “Jane” is based on a telenovela, how much of the story did you know beforehand and were you given any reassurances from Jennie Urman and the producers that it wouldn’t go too far off the rails?
You want to know something crazy? I just believed her. I believed in Jennie. I read that pilot and I knew she was speaking from a very human, very woman experience. The way she handled, in that pilot episode, this preposterous accident and this really wild storyline… the way she handled it with this grounded, authentic, beautiful family, this beautiful girl that wanted more and who was able to look at her experience as being more truthful, not something crazy and preposterous and silly, I knew there was something very special about it. I didn’t ask. I wasn’t afraid.
Has “Jane” opened any doors for you — for example, “Deepwater Horizon,” did that have anything to do with the show?
One hundred percent. “Jane” has opened several doors for me to do so many things I’ve wanted to do. I probably never would have been able to walk into that room and talk to Peter Berg directly if it wasn’t for “Jane.” It put me in a light where it allowed people to see what I could do, and have a reassurance that I was going to work hard for them. It’s contributed to everything that’s happened. It’s also allowed me to create a foundation with my sisters, it’s allowed me to explore writing and motivational speaking and working with non-profit organizations. It’s opened doors because there’s room for trust, and that’s priceless.
So on the flip side of that, you’re shooting “Jane” nine months out of the year. Has there been any worry that it could limit you in terms of pursuing other opportunities?
Oh no, I can never look at it that way. Everything happens for a reason. “Deepwater Horizon” was a blessing because CBS and CW were very gracious in helping us work out with “Jane’s” schedule. I think anything that is supposed to be yours, will be. I find “Jane” to be such a blessing in my life that there’s no way I believe it limits me in any respect. And the beautiful time I’ve had during hiatus, at least this year, since it’s my first experience with it, has enabled me to do wonders.
Jane is going to be a young mother in Season 2 – Are you excited to trade in the fake belly for a real baby?
I’m so happy to get that belly off, girl, that belly was something else! They should put that belly on every junior in high school for the entire year, I think that would be quite the experiment. (laughs)
They would never have sex again.
No, never! They would hold out until they’re 35. I’m 30 now myself and everyone’s been like, “so did the show make you think you want to do this?” and I’m like, if I could look as good as I looked when I was Jane when I was pregnant — which I know is not going to happen, because there’s no way I’m going to have that perfect belly. No way. Are you kidding? Oof. I admire women so much. They’re like superheroes. I’m not sure I’m a superhero quite yet.
I read an interview where you said, “I’m not some super sexy Latina.” Now that you’re this rising star, has there been pressure to package yourself in certain ways or change things about yourself?
I feel very lucky that my journey happened the way that it did. I was able to accept my uniqueness and take it as something that was mine and that was powerful and that was strong in order to navigate through this industry, which can be very scary. So I know what my sexiness is and that looks different than maybe what we’re used to. My sexiness lies in my strength and my power and my ability to see the beauty that I have, not that I’m so close to having or that I would have if I just lost this much weight, not the idea of it, but of me, right now, today.