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    7 Times Gina Rodriguez Made Us Want To Take On The World

    "So go out there and kick some ass."

    Gina Rodriguez has become a household name recently thanks to her award-winning performance on The CW's newest hit Jane the Virgin, and the incredible and inspirational way she speaks about women and people of color.

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    1. Last July, at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, Rodriguez spoke openly about why she wanted to be an actor, being Latina, and how she hoped Jane, which had yet to premiere, would change the way minorities are represented on television.

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    "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. I have two older sisters. One's an investment banker. The other one is an doctor, and I never saw us being played as investment bankers. And 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. And it’s like as soon as you follow your dreams, you give other people the allowance to follow theirs.

    And for me, to look on younger girls and to say, ‘Well, Gina’s like me, maybe not necessarily the same skin color, maybe not necessarily the same background, but like that’s me. I’m not alone. I can do it too.’ 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.

    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 0. 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."

    2. In December, the morning she was nominated for a Golden Globe, Rodriguez told BuzzFeed News that people of color should think, Why not me?

    Nino Munoz / The CW

    "The fact we got recognized and that I'm the first person to get recognized from The CW and I'm a Latina, I would be empowered by that … I am empowered by that. Because if I can do it, that means there are so many other people who are going to be able to do it. It’s that idea that when you make your dreams come true you allow other people to dream and try to make their dreams come true. That's all I did, I opened the floodgates. Now everybody can see that if I can do it, what makes you any different? This little lady from Chicago in the little-engine-that-could show on the smaller network? It’s not where you're from, it’s where you're going, and we’re trying to go where everybody else is at and it feels like we just arrived there ...

    For so long so much of my life has been trying to make my parents proud, and I realized in my search for acceptance from my parents that I was really creating a movement that I needed as a kid. I needed to know I could do it. I needed to see somebody do it before me. There are so many women who paved the way for me, so to think I can open the door for the next, that’s everything. That's what this is about. That's what I do Jane for ... If the show can touch one more person, maybe now one more person can get out of the 'hood because they said, 'Hey, she did it, why can't I? Why am I any different? Why not me?' If you start to see yourself in the worlds of television and film and on billboards and in magazines — everything we're driven by as a culture and a society — you start to think, Why not me?"

    3. In January, Rodriguez won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy Series and her acceptance speech included a powerful message to the Latino community.

    Mike Blake / Reuters

    "This award is so much more than myself. It represents a culture that wants to see themselves as heroes. My father used to tell me to say every morning, 'Today's going to be a great day. I can and I will.' Well, Dad, today's going to be a great day. I can and I did."

    4. And at the PaleyFest Jane the Virgin panel in Los Angeles in March, Rodriguez was full of inspiring thoughts. First, she spoke about why Jane is such a great character.

    Jason Kempin / Getty Images

    "Jane was a woman I wish I was more like ... You seldom get the opportunity to even audition for a woman that is so strong and empowering and fearless and driven and a virgin! To me, it also had the aspect of... my parents are from Puerto Rico, I grew up in Chicago. Being a girl that has that dual identity, that has grandparents that speak Spanish, and my parents spoke Spanish and English, I found an opportunity to really speak about a subject matter and talk about a culture that doesn't get recognized. And definitely doesn't get recognized as the hero, as the one that gets to lead an awesome pack ... It was an opportunity to talk about being a woman, being strong, talk about women's choices. It was an opportunity to talk about dual identity that's so prevalent in this country — 54 million-plus. And I got to be a strong woman and I just knew from that pilot, there was something very special."

    5. She also spoke about how the show is educating people and, thusly, diminishing intolerance.

    Jason Kempin / Getty Images

    "I got a really great tweet during [the immigration reform episode] from someone that said, 'My daughter is 7 years old ... We watch Jane together and she's asking about immigration. I don't know what to say.' And I was like ... 'What's beautiful is that now you can learn together.' It's not about telling her something she should hear, it's about learning together. And I think that education is a means to wipe out ignorance, to wipe out intolerance. Jennie [Snyder Urman, Jane's showrunner] does a really great job, not just talking about immigration, but same-sex marriage and sexual equality. I think she talks about women's rights, reproductive rights without saying it's black or white, it's yes or no, but more so, 'Now talk about it. What's your opinion?' It doesn't have to be ours... We do it with our beautiful vehicle of art and we do it in a way to actually create peace and tolerance through art and that is awesome."

    6. And about how her Golden Globes win defied societal norms.

    Paul Drinkwater / Reuters

    "I wasn't up there by myself ... I felt every girl that's ever dreamt of being something ... It was that much more of an opportunity to stand there and to let people know there is no one way, there is no right way, there is no perfect, there is no beautiful, you are all of those things. Society loves to decide what is beautiful. Society loves to decide this is what's in and this is what's out and we judge ourselves based on that. And I did not fit that and I was so afraid that because I didn't, my dreams wouldn't come true. So the fact that I was able to live this journey, I can now turn to someone and say, 'Don't give up! Don't stop trying! Don't sleep on yourself.' Because trust me, if I can do it, you can do it 10 times better. So go out there and kick some ass."

    7. And she talked about the importance of community.

    Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

    "As an actress and as a woman of color, I've been talking about the subject so much because it seems like it's such an algorithm. People are just like, how do we do it? How do we get into the Latino mind? Like it's different! And I was like, oh, is it different? Because I don't think my mind is different ... It does seem like this big subject to conquer, but I think there's two parts to it. There's one: You need to write for human beings. And that goes for any underrepresented ethnicity because we're all human, we all want the same things, we all want love and success and we're afraid of failure and we want people to like us. ... You write for a human being. That's cracking the code. ... Cast the best actor ... and I bet you they will explode. That is what happens. The cream rises to the top. Do not be afraid to do that and to branch out if we're talking about networks.

    Secondly, the Latino community here in this country is comprised of multiple cultures. And so, the industry says, 'Lets hire a Latino,' and then the Latinos say, 'Well, you want a Mexican and I'm Puerto Rican. You want a Guatemalan and I'm from El Salvador. You want a Cuban and I'm Dominican.' So we need to have the conversation if they're going to put us under one umbrella. Now I'm speaking to the Latino community in this country, that means your ancestors spoke Spanish. ... If we want to be considered and want to show and use our power to the fullest, we need to unite. They see us as one community, we need to be one community. Because we all share the same struggle. That's what we do as human beings. We celebrate each other. We celebrate each other's culture. We celebrate each other's religion. But we also unite as human beings. So let's do that. Let's use our power as women, as Latinos, as whatever subculture that you identify with, and then at the same time, celebrate being a human. ... Now Latinos, we can unite and get our viewership just like Empire. 'Cause where you at, 54 million-plus?!"



    Watch Gina Rodriguez on Jane the Virgin, every Monday at 9 p.m. on The CW.

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