For Gina Rodriguez, a Golden Globe Is Just the Beginning

Jane the Virgin hit a cultural nerve, but its star has her sights set beyond TV

Even before her headline-making Golden Globe win in January, there were already signs Gina Rodriguez was going to be a big star.

At its annual screenings for the global TV market in Los Angeles last year, executives with CBS Studios International noted the personal touch Rodriguez had with some 1,500 programmers from around the world. More importantly, the buyers were entertained by Rodriguez's CW series, Jane the Virgin—for which she won the Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy Series, beating out the likes of Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Lena Dunham.

Networks in some 170 markets have bought the series so far, and it is expected to pick up more heat at the MIPTV event in Cannes, France, next month.

In the opinion of Armando Nuñez, president and CEO of CBS Global Distribution Group, the series (which originated in Venezuela) has proved to be so successful across geographic borders because of its "strong writing and great acting, making its outrageous but heartwarming premise believable. It gives a nod to the telenovela format, which also makes it an attractive show for buyers in many countries."

For Rodriguez, who has appeared in films, on television and on the stage, her career slowly gained traction, first in New York and then Los Angeles, before it really caught fire with Jane. Here, the actress talks about joining her father on picket lines in Chicago, what she learned from Rita Moreno and the annoying part of social media.

(Warning: Some spoilers below if you haven't watched Season 1 of Jane the Virgin yet.)

Adweek: When you first were given the script for Jane the Virgin, was it love at first read?

Rodriguez: One hundred percent, and that probably happens one out of every 200 scripts that you read. In the first five pages, I was like, "Who is this woman that wrote this?" [U.S. series creator, producer and writer Jennie Snyder Urman] is just brilliant. She's my muse. I am absolutely in love with this woman because she's writing about a girl who's a Type-A personality, who's super planned-out and who is able, in my opinion, to transcend the cultural boundaries that Latinos tend to have in the industry. Jenny continues to surprise me with each script. We read them about a day before the shoot. We don't get to know anything about the future of our characters until then. She's gained all of our trust beyond belief.

Jane has been on quite the roller coaster—becoming pregnant while still a virgin was just for starters. For you, what's the most shocking twist she's gone through?

There's been a few shockers. Her leaving [her fiancé] Michael in the sixth episode was a huge shocker. And she very quickly enters a relationship with Rafael [her hot boss, whose semen she was accidentally inseminated with]. That was a huge twist. I was like, "What?!" Another shocker was when we dealt with really heavy baby issues, dealing with a spot on the baby's heart. That actually happened to Jennie. It's a very serious fear of women when they're pregnant. So I was like, "Wow, this is awesome. We're really going in." Another one was when they brought up immigration reform, and the fact that Jane's grandmother was undocumented. It really put awareness on the issue without any judgments. 

Rodriguez immediately fell in love with the script for Jane the Virgin. | Photo: Jeremy Goldberg

How close is Jane's personality to your own?

The more I live with her, the more I want to be like her. She's patient and understanding and forgiving. And she always gives people the benefit of the doubt. I can definitely understand Jane when she makes fearless decisions because of her convictions. I'm very similar in that respect. She turns the other cheek a lot, and I'm a little bit feistier. Her approach is just so diplomatic, and I've been trying to let those characteristics rub off on me.