Gina Rodriguez ("Jane the Virgin"), Issue 21

Congratulations to actress Gina Rodriguez for winning her first Golden Globe on Sunday, January 11, 2015! 

Photo c/o Isaac Sterling

Photo c/o Isaac Sterling

You were so fun to work with on our shoot! Were you always this outgoing and humble growing up?

So you know when you fall in love and all you can think about is whether that person feels the same way as you do? And then, one glorious day, they turn to you and tell you that they do? That's the feeling I just got by hearing this first question! What a way to start off an interview. The feeling was mutual. I fell madly in love with every single artist in that awesome loft space that I worked with. They protected me, made sure I felt beautiful and safe. Is it contradictory to the definition of humility to talk about being humble? Probably. Truthfully, it was my parents and the perspective they gave me on the world. You don't live in this world alone, you are what you are around, help others achieve and you too shall achieve. Be good to everyone and remember to give away your blessings to make room for more. And the Zooey shoot was just that, a big ol, fun and delicious blessing!

You are too kind! So, you went to Columbia University at a very young age. It’s hard enough to get accepted into one of the most prestigious schools in the world, so how on earth did you achieve that? Are you a total genius? What did you like about school… college… and Tisch? What’s the most important thing you learned from higher education?

Not a total brainiac, but I'm definitely an over achiever. I have 2 older sisters; one is an investment banker and the other is a doctor! So you can imagine where I get the hustle from! I love school; education is the one of the greatest and most powerful things to own that no one can take away from you. Yes, student loans and bill collectors can take your dough, but they can't take all the amazing knowledge you have obtained. Tisch gave me a tool belt as an actor.  It didn't just give me a fishing pole... it taught me how to fish in this crazy industry. I feel prepared and confident when it comes to stepping foot on set and that's due to Tisch and the 4 grueling years of acting conservatory, shit was real! 

You’re in a very innovative new show on CW's "Jane the Virgin." What drew you to this script? It’s so interesting… very different.

It was just that; how extremely different the premise was and how incredible the writing complimented the very bizarre nature of this story. Jennie Urman, our creator, is not only an amazing human being with the biggest heart, but so incredibly brilliant that you can't wait to hear the stories that come out of that big brain of hers. Brad, our director brought naturalism and foundation to heightened situations and the cast is stupendous. I believe I am the first American Latina lead on the CW and that is a huge milestone for the 50 million plus Latinos that live in this country. They say CW is taking a risk, but honestly they are just doing something that should have been done a long time ago, which is have new faces tell the same stories. My personal story is like anyone else's: born in Chicago, crazy rebellious teen, goes off to college in NY to pursue her dream. Anyone can relate. Jane, even in her bizarre circumstances, is relatable. She wants love, she wants to fulfill her dreams, do better than her parents had done and live a happy life and I get to play that girl. A relatable girl on TV who just happens to have caramel skin. I thank God I get to tell a wholesome story and so many girls will finally see there face on that screen in a positive light. That is the greatest blessing I have ever been given.

If what happened to "Jane," happened to you in real life… How would you react? Is that a lawsuit waiting to just happen?

Most definitely and very quickly I would consider suing the Gyne that did this to me... or would I? Jane's circumstances are that her insemination is the last chance Rafael (played by Justin Baldoni who is terrific and a darling) will ever have at having a child.  That's a very serious thing to take into consideration.  Who knows what I would do all I know is, is that I don't care to find out anytime soon! Lol. Let's keep that conversation to "Jane" and the awesome writers we have on the show!

So besides your own show, what show are you looking forward to watching? Anything on your radar? Any other actor on your radar?

There are so many shows I am excited to watch! Obviously our brother show, "The Flash," looks freaking stellar and Grant is such a sweetheart and hard worker I'm sure he will kill that role!  I'm excited to see "Cristela" on ABC, with Cristela Alonzo. She has been on my radar for awhile, I love my fellow Latina actresses. We have the same obstacle, which is trying to live in a country and industry that sees us differently because of our skin color and our ancestors native tongue (Spanish) yet we see ourselves just like any of our American friends. Just plain normal! Lol. I'm excited about "Empire," because well I love music and Terrence Howard. I want to see "Fresh off the Boat;" that show looks hysterical and for anyone who has parents who speak a different language or moved to the States from somewhere else can totally get it! This fall is going to be filled with innovative, breaking the mold type shows and I pray ours is one of them!

Who are you dying to work with? Any childhood crushes you’d love to meet?

I am dying to work with Robert Rodriguez, Guillermo del toro and Christopher Nolan. Some of my top directors. I'd love to act across from Meryl Strep, Demian Bichir, Alfred. Molina, Rita Moreno, Tom Hardy, Ryan Gosling, Taraji P Henson, um... Kate Blanchett... the list goes on. Childhood crushes definitely include Tom Hardy and Ryan Gosling. Yikes, I'm already perspiring.  

Aside from acting, what are you wanting to pursue?

Outside of acting I want to produce good films that expose new talent. It would be a dream of mine to help others achieve goals they are working toward. I want to start a clothing line that innovates the idea of size and instead celebrates the bodies we have been given. I want to change the social constructs of beauty and the images we enslave others with and instead liberate. I want to work in education and inner city youth (this I have done for awhile now but pray Jane can give me a bigger platform to do so). I want to create positive role models. Ok, if I don't stop I'll go dizzy! Let's start with that.

What do you love doing in your downtime? What can someone find you doing? 

During my downtime I love to travel. Meet new people, see new things, try new foods, listen to new music and dance to it, learn new cultures and religions. I'm a very curious lion. Someone can find me doing something adventurous, something playful, and definitely something that scares me.  

Now that you’re in LA, do you miss Chicago? How much does it differ from home? Are your family still in Chicago?

I left Chicago when I was 17 to go to college in NY and have never gone back to live, only visit. I love the city that formed this tough kid, but to be honest my home is where ever my feet land. I miss no place, no possession, no home, because I make sure to make the most of what I have right now. One sister lives here in Santa Monica with me so that's really nice and she has three kids so I have family with me. My other sister is in Chicago so the visits are for her and my parents moved back to Puerto Rico, so I have a pretty awesome place to visit for Christmas!

Well, the world is always facing so many issues… What do you think women like yourself need in times like these?

Support; someone unafraid to speak up and do something about these injustices.  I single handedly wish I could change lots of things in our world, but I can not. Without the strength of God and my fellow man, I am unable to do most. Unity is needed and hopefully I can create an army to help those in need. If only I could be the vigilante I am in my dreams... one day though.

Lastly, where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 15 years? You’re still so young… So maybe it’s not in your mind yet. But we just have to ask!

In 5 years, I would be blessed to be wrapping up a 5th season on "Jane" and the life it gave me. I see films, blockbusters, labor of loves and films I produced done in between each season.  In 10 years, I see a charity/organization I have started for underprivileged youth, a free clinic I have started for my sister to run, a successful clothing line, shoe line, and beauty products. In 15 years, I see a family of my own (adopted or both) if God deems me worthy and to look back and thank Him for the past 15 years of making this life such a special one to live.

*This story is an extended version from its original publication in Issue 21.