Born and raised in Chicago, Gina Rodriguez began performing as a child and later studied acting at New York University. Rodriguez has appeared in such films as Our Family Wedding (2010) and Go For It (2011) and has worked on television with roles on Law & Order and Army Wives. After starring in the 2012 drama Filly Brown, Rodriguez landed her most prominent role to date: the title character on the popular dramatic comedy Jane the Virgin, with the actress winning a Golden Globe for the role.
Early Life and Career
Born on July 30, 1984, in Chicago, Illinois, actress Gina Rodriguez is the youngest of three daughters. Both of her parents are originally from Puerto Rico. When she was seven years old, she started out as a dancer, performing with a local salsa group called Fantasia Juvenil. A teenage Rodriguez won acceptance to a special theater program at Columbia University and she then devoted all of her energy to acting, eventually enrolling at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.
While in New York, Rodriguez also honed her craft with the Atlantic Theatre Company and Experimental Theatre Wing. She soon landed some of her first professional acting gigs, including a guest spot on the popular crime drama Law & Order. Over the next few years, Rodriguez juggled a variety of film, stage and television roles. She starred as a dancer torn between ambition and family expectations in 2011's Go For It and worked on such shows as Eleventh Hour, 10 Things I Hate About You and Army Wives.
'Jane the Virgin'
Rodriguez's career really took off after starring in the 2012 film Filly Brown, which also featured Jenni Rivera, Lou Diamond Phillips and Edward James Olmos. The movie explores the rise and fall of a young rap artist played by Rodriguez. As she explained to Complex.com, she picked this project because it defied common Hollywood stereotypes of Latinos. "This movie shows our stories are all the same. At the end of the day we are all one race, which is the human race. Filly Brown could have been a black girl, a white girl, an Asian girl."
After Filly Brown was screened at the Sundance Film Festival, Rodriguez fielded numerous job offers. She turned down a chance to appear on Marc Cherry's Devious Maids series because she objected to the way it portrayed Latinos. "That's something I didn't want to contribute to, the incorrect perception of a culture,'' she told The New York Times. But Rodriguez soon found her dream project when she landed the lead in Jane the Virgin, which debuted in fall of 2014.
The show, based on the Venezuelan telenovela Juana le Virgen, follows the misadventures of a young virgin who is accidentally artificially inseminated following a mix-up by her gynecologist. As she told Vanity Fair, Rodriguez fell in love with the character. "She is positive and uplifting and funny and brave, and she gets to be a Latina." It appears that audiences and critics share Rodriguez's enthusiasm for the series. For her portrayal of Jane, she won a 2015 Golden Globe and was nominated for another Golden Globe in 2016.
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