THE SUNNY SIDE OF LIFE

Amer­i­can ac­tor Gina Ro­driguez knows what it means to have to strug­gle – in life as well as in her ca­reer – but she‘s the first to ad­mit that it makes the good times she’s now en­joy­ing all the sweeter

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TV -

ina Ro­driguez’s face is plas­tered on bill­boards and on buses across Los An­ge­les. The Hol­ly­wood Re­porter has dubbed her “The Next Big Thing”. But just a year ago, the 29-year-old was fac­ing a ca­reer and life cri­sis. On Christ­mas Eve, she got the call her big lead break star­ring in Fox’s navy drama Wild Blue had been can­celled. Ro­driguez was dev­as­tated. While she’d notched up plenty of guest roles over the years – Happy End­ings, The Men­tal­ist, The Bold and the Beau­ti­ful – money was tight. She was liv­ing “cheque to cheque”, work­ing “17 odd jobs” and squeez­ing in au­di­tions be­tween tele­mar­ket­ing, wait­ress­ing and help­ing babysit her sis­ter’s kids.

“There were some things hap­pen­ing in my life where I was like, ‘Wow, it’s rain­ing!’ “she says. “I can­not wait to see the rainbow be­cause this is a heavy pour.”

But in one of those rags-toriches tales Hol­ly­wood loves, the sun came out again just a few weeks later, when a pro­ducer who’d seen her play­ing a rap­per in Sundance flick Filly Brown of­fered her an au­di­tion for Jane The Vir­gin.

To be hon­est, the project sounded a lit­tle strange. A frothy Amer­i­can take on a Venezue­lan te­len­ov­ela (an over-the-top­style South Amer­i­can soapie) about a mix-up at a hos­pi­tal that sees a 23-year-old vir­gin ar­ti­fi­cially in­sem­i­nated?

“I was like, ‘ Jane The Vir­gin? That is quite the ti­tle!’ ” the friendly ac­tor says of read­ing Jen­nie Sny­der’s script.

For her part, showrun­ner Sny­der was almost more de­lighted than Ro­driguez. “It was like meet­ing ‘The One’!” she says.

The out­landish premise is just the launch­ing pad for nu­mer­ous fun sto­ry­lines: biological donor Rafael is a mar­ried man and play­boy who not only owns the ho­tel where Jane works but was her for­mer teenage crush. Jane’s fa­ther’s iden­tity, long kept se­cret by her mother, is re­vealed to be famed te­len­ov­ela star Ro­ge­lio de la Vega – per­formed with rel­ish by real-life te­len­ov­ela star Jaime Camil. The se­ries has be­come one of the year’s crit­i­cal hits, named as one of the 10 best shows of 2014 by the Amer­i­can Film In­sti­tute.

Grow­ing up in Chicago in a house­hold strug­gling for money, she says she watched her two sis­ters work “their tails off” to be­come an in­vest­ment banker and a doc­tor. So when Ro­driguez be­came an ac­tor she was de­ter­mined not to take stereo­typ­i­cal Latino roles as maids, gang mem­bers or drug ad­dicts. Sadly, that was just about all that was on of­fer.

Ro­driguez has bat­tled other ob­sta­cles too, in­clud­ing a se­ri­ous thy­roid con­di­tion she de­vel­oped at 19.

But Ro­driguez be­lieves ev­ery­thing hap­pens for a rea­son. She even ap­pre­ci­ates Wild Blue’s can­cel­la­tion last Christ­mas. “It helped me re­alise the kind of woman I wanted to be. Jane, I love her, and I want to be with her for life, but she will end. And I think the best way to pre­pare for the fu­ture is to love and embrace the present.”

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