Gina Rodriguez Urges Latino Actors to Use Their Power for More Roles

Illustration for article titled Gina Rodriguez Urges Latino Actors to Use Their Power for More Roles

Everyone wants a piece of that Empire success, so expect the show to be name-dropped in every TV-related interview. Jane the Virgin actress Gina Rodriguez referenced the popular series while calling for more Latino representation at a PaleyFest panel on Sunday.

The session featured Jane the Virgin executive producers Ben Silverman and Jennie Urman (who's also showrunner), as well as Rodriguez and her primary co-stars.

During the Q&A, Rodriguez encouraged Latino actors to represent different cultures within the community. Deadline reports:

When it comes to taking roles, Rodriguez exhorted Latino actors not to stop and ask whether the casting director is looking for a Cuban or a Dominican or a Mexican. People from each of those countries can define significant differences with Latinos from other countries, but outsiders are much less likely to do so.

"We need to unite. They see us as one community — we need to be one community. Let's do that, use our power as Latinos, whatever culture you identify with and celebrate."


Rodriguez then invoked the power of Empire, saying, "Let's get our viewership, just like Empire."

Bringing in the political implications of the show, her castmate Ivonne Coll, who plays Jane's grandma, used the opportunity to speak on immigration policy:

"I am so happy that I represent so many immigrants who come to this country and work so hard — we are part of the fabric of America. It's not just about 'these Latinos.' I am representing a demographic that exists. I put a human face on the hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens who are here who are not criminals, (who) are hard-working people."

Yes, yes, diversity.

Image via Getty

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I absolutely agree with the call for more diversity in media, particularly Hispanic/Latino diversity as it's near and dear to my heart.

As a first generation Cuban/Colombian, though the thing that gives me pause when "Uniting as a latino community" is that Americans already can't really tell us apart. Is it really in our best interests to blend ourselves into one culturally homogenous group? I love both my Cuban and my Colombian sides, but they're very different things. Language, music, food, obviously, but also less visual but no less important differences in cultural attitudes and values.

Sofia Vergara said that one of her challenges playing Gloria was that when the show started, the writers wrote her as essentially Mexican, and Vergara herself had to say "No, Colombians wouldn't say/eat/dress like that." How do we campaign for recognition of our various cultures without losing what makes them special?