Gina Rodriguez

Gina Rodriguez Biography

(1984–)
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Gina Rodriguez is an American actress who is best known for her titular role on the hit TV show 'Jane the Virgin,' for which she won a Golden Globe in 2015.

Who Is Gina Rodriguez?

Gina Rodriguez is an American actress who got her start appearing on television shows like Law & Order and The Mentalist. She made a big impression in 2012 with the indie musical Filly Brown and enjoyed her star turn when she won the leading role of Jane in Jane the Virgin in 2014. With the success of the show and a Golden Globe for Best Actress under her belt (which she won in 2015), Rodriguez has been taking on big-budget film projects such as Deepwater Horizon (2016) and Annihilation (2018). 

Early Life

Gina Alexis Rodriguez was born on July 30, 1984 in Chicago, Illinois. Rodriguez has two older sisters: Ivelisse, an investment banker, and Rebecca, a doctor. Her Puerto Rican parents raised her on the Northwest Side of the city, and from a very young age, she began taking salsa dancing lessons and went pro.

“From womb to 17 I was in Chicago. I danced in Humboldt Park, and danced in every Puerto Rican parade. I was a professional salsa dancer,” she told the Chicago Tribune.

After high school, she matriculated to Tisch School of the Arts at NYU and graduated in 2005. It was during her early acting career that she was stricken with Hashimoto's disease (a thyroid condition) that caused her weight to balloon at 19. However, she was able to control it, first through medication, and eventually through lifestyle changes.

Movies and TV Shows

'The Mentalist,' 'The Bold and the Beautiful,' 'Filly Brown'

Starting in 2004, Rodriguez made her first onscreen appearance on Law & Order. She followed up with parts in Army Wives, The Mentalist and a recurring role on The Bold and the Beautiful in 2011. But it was her embodiment of hip-hop character Majo Tenorio in the indie musical Filly Brown (2012) that drew kudos from critics and elevated her status as an actress on the verge.

'Jane the Virgin'

After appearing in Sleeping With the Fishes (2013), Rodriguez had an opportunity to be cast in Lifetime's Devious Maids. As alluring as the opportunity was to advance her career, she felt in her gut that something wasn't right and decided not to be part of the cast; she later explained that she didn't want to fall into the Latino stereotype of being cheap labor. “I found it limiting for the stories that Latinos have,” she admitted in 2014 during a Television Critics Association conference.

Around the same time, The CW was searching for a leading lady for their telenovela series Jane the Virgin. As she began reading the pilot script for the series, Rodriguez knew this was the project she was waiting for. She recalled how she was five pages into the story when she realized, "I have to be Jane."

Rodriguez found she shared similar qualities to that of her character, Jane Villanueva, as both are smart, independent and courageous. Additionally, she loved the way the show was unafraid to take on controversial issues like abortion, immigration and racial stereotypes.

The success of Jane the Virgin was matched with Rodriguez's Golden Globe win for Best Actress in a Television Series Musical or Comedy in 2015 and her acceptance speech about the importance of representation went viral.

Rodriguez's run as Jane Villanueva came to an end after five seasons with the Jane the Virgin finale on July 31, 2019.

'Deepwater Horizon'

Opportunities to hit the big screen in a big way came to Rodriguez in 2016 when she got the part of oil rig navigation officer Andrea Fleytas in the disaster film Deepwater Horizon, opposite Mark Wahlberg

'Annihilation'

In 2018, Rodriguez got in touch with her Chicago roots in the sci-fi thriller Annihilation, which also stars Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh. In it she plays a former veteran-turned-Chicago paramedic who joins an all-female team to investigate an area called "The Shimmer," a place filled with mutating creatures and terrain. 

'Miss Bala' and 'Someone Great'

Rodriguez opened 2019 with a starring role in Miss Bala, a remake of a 2011 Spanish-language film in which her character gets caught between the DEA and a murderous drug cartel after her best friend is kidnapped.

With her own production company — I Can & I Will Productions — in tow, Rodriguez produced and acted in the Netflix rom-com Someone Great

Upcoming Projects and Other Interests

Adding to her Netflix resume, the actress will also star on the platform's live-action film Carmen Sandiego. 

As she continues to challenge herself in acting, Rodriguez has also found passion for working behind the scenes. In February 2018 she made her directorial debut on the 74th episode of Jane the Virgin and told Variety that the experience was "liberating." 

And make no mistake, her moment in the director's seat isn't a whim; she's determined to do more in the future.

“I’ve been jackhammering acting, trying to solidify myself as an actress people want to work with," she told the Chicago Tribune. "Now it’s time to follow my heart and my passion in a new direction. I’ve been studying every director I admired on the ‘Jane’ set, for years. It’s time.” 

Diversity Advocate

A strong proponent of diverse and equal representation, Rodriguez uses her celebrity to make a difference and lead a new generation of actors in Hollywood. 

"A strong leader is one who creates other leaders. So if I am encouraging young girls to take control of their lives, to spread kindness, then I am doing the job God put me here to do," she told Latina magazine in 2016. "With every attempt we make within the industry, with every project I take, it will be to advance women. Not only women of color but all women and men. One doesn’t exist without the other. I’m just going to continue to keep my head down and keep trying to do the best work I possibly can, never really saying I’ve arrived."

Personal Life

Rodriguez got engaged to her longtime boyfriend, Joe LoCicero, in July 2018. The pair married in May 2019. 

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