Gina Ro­driguez

Isn’t sorry for what she says on

Cosmopolitan Middle East - - FRONT PAGE - BY LISA BUT­TER­WORTH PHO­TOGRAPHED BY JA­SON KIM STYLED BY AYA KANAI

You know that rush you get when you're inch­ing to­ward the top of a roller coaster?

When you’re sec­onds away from the first big plunge and feel­ing that per­fect mix of ex­cite­ment, an­tic­i­pa­tion, and fear? Gina Ro­driguez feels like that pretty much all the time th­ese days. Or as she puts it, grin­ning from ear to ear dur­ing lunch at a Cul­ver City res­tau­rant, “ter­ri­fied as f*$$.” The 34-year-old ac­tress has filmed 10 movies dur­ing her time off from the in­stant hit Jane the Vir­gin, but it’s the up­com­ing Miss Bala where she lays her rep­u­ta­tion, fu­ture ca­reer, and big-screen vi­a­bil­ity on the line. She stars as Glo­ria, a Mex­i­canAmer­i­can who finds her­self swept up – and com­plicit – in the deadly crimes of a car­tel. Tak­ing this pro­fes­sional leap, she says em­phat­i­cally, makes her re­ally scared. But she’s not pre­oc­cu­pied with achiev­ing box-of­fice suc­cess or crit­i­cal ac­claim. “I felt very alone grow­ing up. I didn’t feel rep­re­sented. I didn’t feel a part of the con­ver­sa­tion,” she ex­plains. “And if you see your­self pro­jected, you be­lieve you are wor­thy, valu­able.” Miss Bala as a whole is ground­break­ing. The ma­jor­ity of the cast is Lat­inx, and so were many of its crew. “When Hol­ly­wood reimag­ines films, they have his­tor­i­cally white­washed them. In this case, the Amer­i­can girl is me, a Latina born in this coun­try. I find that rev­o­lu­tion­ary.” Of course, Gina would like the movie to fol­low in the bar­rier-break­ing foot­steps of Black Pan­ther and Crazy Rich Asians. But if it bombs? “Hope­fully, it’s the same thing that hap­pens ev­ery time a white movie bombs,” she says. “They just make an­other one!” Gina ar­rived for our lunch wear­ing cropped Levi’s and a cozy cream sweater, her hair pulled into a messy bun. But the ca­sual look and warm en­ergy mask this worka­holic’s am­bi­tion. “I was a broke, starv­ing artist for years be­fore I got Jane,” she says of her drive and jam­packed sched­ule. Her in­ten­sity is ob­vi­ous in our free­wheel­ing convo, which skips from fem­i­nism (“It’s not ‘women are bet­ter.’ It’s equal­ity”) to whether she wants to freeze her eggs (she doesn’t). In fact, Gina can trace her am­bi­tion back to when she set a goal for her­self, at 14, to star on a TV show. She or­ders a drink as she re­counts what it was like back then, when she lived in Chicago, one of three first-gen­er­a­tion daugh­ters born to Puerto Ri­can par­ents. Her mom made killer ar­roz con pollo, and Nuy­or­i­can salsa mu­sic was al­ways play­ing. “For years and years, I tried,” she says. “When I was 29, I hit it.”

TThat’s when she landed the role of Jane Vil­lanueva, a vir­gin whose life takes on te­len­ov­ela-level drama that scored Gina a Golden Globe and made her a house­hold name. “It’s in­ter­est­ing. As a per­former, you have to quite lit­er­ally bury your life,” she says. “At the same time, ev­ery day on-set I’m like, How did I get this lucky? To live out your dreams is a re­ally sur­real ex­pe­ri­ence.” But not ev­ery day is peachy. While film­ing the fifth and fi­nal sea­son of Jane, Gina’s beloved res­cue pup Casper started walk­ing funny and had to be rushed to the vet. She found out he needed emer­gency spinal surgery be­tween takes. “And I couldn’t cry be­cause I was do­ing a scene where Jane’s happy and things are great,” she says. The next day, she got an up­date. “As I’m walk­ing into my Cosmo cover shoot, think­ing, Wow, I’m fi­nally gonna be a Cosmo girl!, the doc­tor says, ‘Casper has no mo­tor

func­tion in his legs.’” In the mo­ment, all Gina could think about was how he was do­ing. But you’d never know it, look­ing at th­ese pho­tos. Be­cause part of her job is to put a big smile on her face, even when it’s the last thing she wants to do. The strug­gles of be­ing in the pub­lic eye have hit Gina hard. “The anx­i­ety started com­ing, like, two years into Jane. I had my first panic at­tack at a sushi res­tau­rant. All of a sud­den, I thought I was go­ing to die, and peo­ple are tak­ing pic­tures. It was hor­ren­dous,” she says, shak­ing her head. “There are a lot of things in the man­ual of liv­ing out your dreams that you don’t know about. Like you don’t have any more friends. You never go out to eat. You never see your fam­ily, your boyfriend .... ” What Gina has is her fi­ancé, Joe LoCicero. They got en­gaged last sum­mer and stans lap up their PDA on so­cial me­dia. (The cou­ple met when Joe played a strip­per dur­ing sea­son two of Jane.) “Dat­ing Joe was a new ex­pe­ri­ence for me be­cause I put my­self first,” she says. “For so long, I put ev­ery man in front of me. As a suc­cess­ful woman, it is so hard be­cause of our cul­tural norms that, like, the man has to be the bread­win­ner! And the man has to be the more pow­er­ful one. It was so dif­fi­cult for me to find a man who didn’t want me to dim my light for his ego.” Their love lies in the lit­tle things too. Keep­ing the house clut­ter-free is one of the ways Gina curbs her anx­i­ety. Even after a 14-plus-hour day on­set, she com­pul­sively ti­dies up. Re­cently, she men­tioned to Joe how re­lax­ing her nights had felt, and he con­fessed that he’d been do­ing all the dirty work be­fore she got home, to save her the stress. “He was like, ‘I just want you for 15 more min­utes,’” she says, tear­ing up. “It made me cry. I was like, ‘Yeah. Get rid of the clut­ter! Thank you, baby.’” She grabs a nap­kin and dabs her eyes. “And he puts the seat down,” she says, “and some­times I leave the seat up for him.” When I ask how she knew Joe was her per­son, she com­pares him, sur­pris­ingly, to an au­toim­mune dis­or­der she’s had since she was 19. “I said this to Joe the other

"As a suc­cess­ful woman, it was so dif­fi­cult to find a man who didn't want me to dim my light for his ego."

day, and he was like, ‘That sounds ter­ri­ble.’ But it’s true,” she says. “My Hashimoto’s, it’s just a part of me. That’s how I feel with Joe. There was this mo­ment of, Oh, I’m go­ing to be with you for­ever.” Gina’s con­di­tion can cause fa­tigue, de­pres­sion, and weight gain, some­thing she finds frus­trat­ing. “I re­mem­ber my first cover shoot. I heard them whis­per­ing, ‘When she stands like that, it doesn’t look good.’ Those com­ments feel like knives from across the room,” she says. “I can hear you! And who cares if it doesn’t look at­trac­tive? This is the way I look when I sit. My stuff folds!” But her life – her star­dom, ro­mance, and self-worth – has changed. “I fi­nally love my body,” she says. “I let go of the anx­i­ety and the fear of not look­ing beau­ti­ful. “Be­cause it’s not about the pic­ture. It’s about the fact that I stand on this cover with ev­ery Latina who wished she saw her­self re­flected. Be­cause it’s not my face – it’s the 55-mil­lion­plus girls who are like, “We be­long.”

Dres, Pra­bal Gu­rungJacket, Coach 1941 Ear­rings, Cos­moStyle by Cos­mopoli­tan Jew­elryHeels, Char­lotte OlympiaHai­r: Suave Pro­fes­sion­als celebrity stylist Mar­cus Fran­cis at Star­works Artists. Makeup: Carissa Fer­reri at The Wall Group us­ing Cov­er­Girl. Man­i­cure: Jenna Hipp for Pro­vi­sion Scents.

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