Jane the Virgin, a show about a young woman who is accidentally artificially inseminated, was my first introduction to Gina Rodriguez. After watching the first episode of this witty, thoughtful, and diverse show, I had fallen in love not only with the show, but with Gina who portrays Jane. For the first time I saw a young Latina character I could related to: ambitious, family oriented, and in love with school. The more I learned about Gina the harder it became to resist her grace, humility, and charm. With that said, here are a few ways Gina Rodriguez is straight up SLAYING the game.
1. She is proud of who she is
There are three defining ways in which Gina takes pride in herself: as a woman, as a Latina, and as an artist.
Gina Rodriguez loves herself and wants everyone to know it. Featured on the May cover of Women’s Health, Gina reveals, “It was untrue that I needed to have [a] type of body in order to be as successful as I am today.” Since she lives with Hashimoto disease – an autoimmune condition affecting the thyroid – Gina focuses on her diet and exercise as a way to stay healthy, not as a way to fit into the smallest dress. “It’s a very strange feeling to be okay with a little cellulite or a little extra anything” she tells Women’s Health, “I don’t look at it and feel terrified anymore, and my confidence changed because of that. I carry myself differently.” In an industry that gives so much weight (no pun intended, but always welcome) to a woman’s physical appearance, Gina’s self-love smashes every expectation of what it means to be a successful woman in Hollywood.
I can’t talk about Gina without mentioning how important she is to the Latino community and how dedicated she is to making us visible. In 2015, she won her first Golden Globe for her role in Jane the Virgin and gave a heartfelt speech stating, “This award is so much more than myself. It represents a culture that wants to see themselves as heroes.”
Real talk: I can’t watch that video without crying. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. This was a call to action demanding that the Latino community be better represented in television. This is not the first time Gina has spoken out about the importance of representation. Back in 2014 at a summer press tour, she explained that she became an actor because she wanted to change the way she grew up. As a young girl, she never saw herself on screen. “Right now the perception they have of Latinos in America are very specific to maid, landscape, pregnant teen. One [of my] sister[s] is an investment banker and the other one is a doctor, and I never saw us being played as these roles.” Let’s make it happen, Hollywood.
Like many successful artists, Gina stands on the shoulders of those who have paved to make her dreams a reality and she wants nothing more than to be another link in that chain for future actors. In an interview with Buzzfeed, she said, “Choosing to expose certain communities to these stories is going to create more tolerance, it’s going to create more acceptance, and it’s going to inspire our youth. I hope that the diversity on television is already shaping people’s minds to become more tolerant of that which they do not know about.” This is the mindset led Gina to take on the role of Jane in 2014. She wanted a role that would speak to young girls everywhere and showcase the many opportunities available to them as teachers, writers, doctors, and lawyers.
Shoutout to Jennie Urman, Jane the Virgin’s creator, for not only creating a multifaceted character, but for finding an actress who fulfills the role with such conviction
2. She spotlights others
If there is one thing I’ve learned about Gina it’s that she is constantly using her platform as a way to bring others into the conversation. At the beginning of this year, Gina started #MovementMondays on her Instagram account where she spotlights a Latin@ in the entertainment industry. Her justification is logical and powerful: “If you want to see us represented on film and [television], if you want to see Latinos nominated for Oscars, we NEED to support one another.” Gina’s solution is to use the community’s strength in numbers to combat this lack of representation. “If we want to be considered and want to use our power to the fullest, we need to unite” she says. “They see us as one community, we need to be one community. Because we all share the same struggle.” YAS GIRL. SPEAK ON IT.
3. She shares the love
Put simply, Gina is basically an awesome big sister, willing to go the distance for someone in need. Once, a fan sent Gina a tweet, stating that she wanted to wear her 2016 Golden Globes dress to prom. Like the true MVP that she is, Gina quickly responded to the fan to try and make some magic happen. Since the gown was only a loan, Gina offered up instead her 2015 Golden Globes dress. In the end, Gina did manage to make the arrangement work and the fan had a magical night of her own in the very dress that Gina wore when she won her first Golden Globe award.
Much like her character Jane Villanueva, Gina also values the importance of a good education. In fact, in 2015, Gina joined the Hispanic Scholarship Fund’s Board of Directors. As a Hispanic Scholarship Fund alumni, Gina saw this position as an opportunity to give to an organization that helped make her dreams possible. “Serving on HSF’s board is a great opportunity to say thank you and to help open doors for the Latino students to follow. I wish I could tell every one of them how much my college education means to me,” she stated.
It should also come as no surprise that Gina has launched a foundation with her sisters known as the “We Will Foundation” modeled after their father’s mantra “I can and I will.” According to Variety, the foundation is designed to focus on arts education and scholarship funding for the less fortunate, with the aim of empowering young women. Listen, Gina is trying to take over the world and I am here for this.
4. She’s got killer dance moves
If you haven’t checked out Gina’s Instagram account (@HereIsGina), you are seriously missing out on some sweet dance moves – she is a literal dancing queen. Gina started salsa dancing as a young girl and when you see her Instagram videos, it is quite evident that those lessons paid off. Sometimes you’ll see her salsa dancing with family and friends, and other times you’ll see her dancing on set with her cast members. In my humble opinion, though, her best videos are the ones where she recreates videos of kids dancing because she hits each move with such sharp precision
A video posted by Gina Rodriguez (@hereisgina) on
6. She’s got an entrepreneurial spirit
Did you think I was done talking about all the incredible things Gina has accomplished? Think again. I was just giving you a little dance break. Let’s continue. By now you should be well aware that Gina is all about female empowerment. That’s why she partnered up with Stanford MBA graduate Catalina Girald to offer lingerie that is changing the game.
According to their website, co-founders Gina and Catalina want to revolutionize the way lingerie is marketed toward women by creating a brand that empowers women instead of objectifying them. You might be wondering, “How could lingerie empower women?” Naja’s garment factory primarily employs single mothers or female heads of households in Colombia where they are paid above market wages with healthcare benefits. The co-founders chose to aid single mothers because often they must choose between working and caring for their children. At Naja, the women operate under flexible work policies that make it easier to balance work and childcare. Not only that, but every child of a Naja garment worker also receives books, school supplies, uniforms and all school meals paid by Naja. IS THAT AMAZING OR WHAT?! Check out all their different stylish undergarments here.
7. She keeps it real
Celebrities! They’re just like us! They also indulge in junk food. While shooting the upcoming film Annihilation, Gina took a moment to snapchat her first love: Hot Cheetos.
Less than two weeks later, we got another glimpse of her admiring a double dose of Flaming Hot Cheetos.
Like Gina said, even though she’s in London, she won’t deny her heart’s true desire: spicy artificially flavored chips that leave your fingers red even hours after you’ve licked all the dust off.
Let’s not forget about the time Gina was too hungry and pressed for time to be bothered with taking off her Jane the Virgin baby belly, so she just rocked it to get ahead of the line at Chipotle. To be fair, it may have not been the most honest thing to do, but it certainly was the most logically thing to do when you already look pregnant, right? It’s all relative.
8. Boxing is more than just her favorite exercise – it’s part of her identity
Okay, so Gina boxes. Gina’s father was a professional boxing referee and it quickly became her favorite sport. After being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, boxing also became a great way to exercise and relieve stress, both of which are crucial when living with this disease. Hashimoto’s disease affects the thyroid, which can be managed by incorporating cardio into one’s exercise. Boxing is all cardio, so Gina didn’t have to look far to find the right workout for her.
Besides giving her amazing arms, boxing has also become a metaphor for her life and career. Gina tells Women’s Health, “Boxing is very much like acting, except you’re just fighting yourself. You’re not allowing yourself to be defeated, you’re getting up after you’ve been knocked down, and you have to believe that you can win.” Amen, sister.
9. She wont put up with your “Keyboard Courage”
Last August People en Español did a cover story on Gina. To promote the issue and connect with some of her bilingual fans, she wrote an Instagram caption in Spanish for cover photo where she was met with criticism about her feet and her grammar.
That’s right. People took time out of their lives to comment on how they thought her toes were weird for curling that way. So, in true Gina fashion, she followed up with a second post to call out those bullies while showing love and compassion – something these punks didn’t even deserve to be honest. She wrote, “We desire to project our own insecurities and hatred on another. When did we decide social media was for hating, for putting others down rather than lifting them up[?] I refuse to participate in that kind of world […] Ask yourself, ‘What am I getting out of being mean to another person I have never met?’ #NoToKeyboardCourage.”
Yet again, Gina saw an opportunity to turn this moment into a movement. She joined forces with a CustomInk campaign called “Kindness is Always in Style” to combat bullying. The idea behind the campaign, as Gina describes it, is to imagine what style you would have if your character were what people saw you wearing. To see someone wearing their character on their sleeve would be much more telling about the person than anything else.
Gina, are you currently accepting applications for personal assistants or best friends? I have references. Call me.