You may know our next influential woman from the successful soap opera Jane the Virgin or any other of her works. You guessed right: Gina Rodriguez.
The American actress and producer is a very important voice in the fight against discrimination within the filmindustry in and outside of Hollywood. Her focus here is connected to her Puerto-Rican roots: the rights for Latinx folks in this industry. Rodriguez uses her voice for many different issues concerning herself and other people in the whole industry.
Check out the article below if Gina Rodriguez has sparked your interest!
Gina Rodriguez-LoCicero | *30-07-1984 | USA | Actress, Producer
Hollywood has been a white and male dominated environment since forever. Although more and more people are standing up to the discrimination within the industry, there is still a long way to go. A very important voice within this fight is the voice of Gina Rodriguez. This American actress with Puerto-Rican roots fights for the rights of Latinx folks, inside and outside of Hollywood.
Rodriguez started acting as a kid and became known to a wider audience when she performed Jane Gloriana Villanueva in CW’s show Jane the Virgin (2014-2019). Based on the telenovela Juana la Virgen (2002), it deals with a lot of societal problems. The series are praised for the way they handle themes such as immigration and abortion and portraying the lgbtq+-community, but the most important feature of Jane the Virgin is perhaps the representation of Latinx people. Although the series are sometimes criticized for the lack of diversity within the Latinx community itself, Jane the Virgin represents Latinx in a very multidimensional and nuanced way – something that is not often seen on mainstream American television.
The actress is very passionate when it comes to representation and giving people from all kinds of backgrounds the opportunities they deserve. She finds it her duty to take this way further than just Jane the Virgin. With her production company I Can And I Will Productions, she makes sure the crew on set and on screen is very diverse and that everyone is treated equally. It is very important for Rodriguez to have her own projects, because then she can decide who gets jobs and how people are treated.
Another project of hers is the lingerie company Naja, which she founded with Catalina Girald. Naja strives to empower women instead of objectifying them with a male-gaze. The company supports single mothers, employs women in the slums of Colombia and cares about the environment as well.
Rodriguez often uses her celebrity status to talk about issues like sexism and racism, but doing this in public has gotten her into trouble as well. Back in 2018, the actress participated in a debate about problems females face within the fashion industry. In a discussion with actresses Gabrielle Union, Ellen Pompeo and Emma Roberts, she claimed that “white women get paid more than black women, black women get paid more than Asian women and Asian women get paid more than Latina women.” A lot of people perceived this as anti-black and believed Rodriguez pitted black and Latinx actresses against each other. Although Rodriguez claims she never meant to hurt anyone and that she just wanted to point out the intersectionality within the pay gap, the accusations continued. For example, she again got a lot of backlash when singing along to a rap song containing the n-word in an Instagram story. She deleted the video and apologized, but according to some, these apologies were not honest enough.
Despite the negative comments surrounding Rodriguez, she is still rocking a lot of amazing projects. A very notable movie is the romcom Someone Great (2019) that she co-produced and acted in. The movie never directly addresses diversity, but still manages to tackle the topic by just making sure people of all skin colours get represented in a very respectful way. It was just confirmed that Rodriguez will feature in another romcom, which will hopefully be just as good.
Author: Maaike van Leendert
Image: Miami Film Festival