It’s no secret that Gina Rodriguez is an advocate for authentic portrayals of minorities in Hollywood. And for the 30-year-old “Jane The Virgin” star, the power to change the industry largely lies in the hands of actors.
As part of The Hollywood Reporter’s recent comedy actress roundtable, Rodriguez joined Lena Dunham (“Girls”), Amy Schumer (“Inside Amy Schumer”), Ellie Kemper (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”) and Kate Mckinnon (“Saturday Night Live”). Both Rodriguez and Ross were vocal about the lack of roles in the industry for actresses of color.
When Ross asked the “Jane The Virgin” actress about her experience auditioning in Hollywood, Rodriguez said she makes it a point to avoid parts that rely on stereotypes.
“I remove myself instantly if something’s perpetuating a stereotype,” Rodriguez told THR. “But the only way to stop stereotypes is to say, ‘I’m going to wait for a journey that suits me.’”
“When you compromise, you don’t do your best work,” she added. “You’re only left with your integrity. You can’t take those Jimmy Choos with you!”
The Golden Globe-winning actress said Hollywood’s issue is one of being out of touch with other cultures rather than “hard-core racism.”
She added that it’s useful to show industry executives the financial benefits of diversity -- pointing to the success of recent TV shows -- rather than vilifying people.
It’s not the first time the Chicago native has spoken about the importance of choosing roles that align with her morals. After her critically acclaimed performance in the indie film “Filly Brown,” Rodriguez, who is of Puerto Rican descent, passed on an opportunity to star in Lifetime’s “Devious Maids” because she was waiting for a role that would shake up the portrayal of Latinos in Hollywood.
The actress opened up to The Huffington Post before the “Jane The Virgin” premiere last fall about turning down such a big opportunity.
“I didn’t choose ‘Jane’ over ‘Devious Maids,’ I just decided to pass on ‘Devious Maids,’ and that was two years ago,” Rodriguez said. “That was way before I knew ‘Jane’ even existed, but I knew that you practice what you preach and sometimes that comes with sacrifices you wish you didn’t have to make. There were times when I was like, 'Why am I pulled so strongly to be a voice, to not keep my mouth shut? Why can’t I just keep my mouth shut, take the job, take the money and walk like everyone else?' Because it’s scary. You’re afraid people are not going to want to work with you. You’re afraid people are going to think things about you for speaking up.”
“But if I don’t do it, then what? I’m going to just keep wanting somebody else to? If I don’t speak up, I’m just going to what? Sit around and complain and hope that somebody else will? No. I wasn’t raised like that," she continued.
"If I want change, then I've got to do it. And if I want to do it, I've got to be that change. And that takes sacrifices that sometimes don’t pay the bills, you know?" she said. "And I’m OK with that.”
Watch more comments from Rodriguez in the THR video, and read the comedy actresses’ entire conversation at The Hollywood Reporter's website.