Rita Moreno Teases Her 'Jane the Virgin' Debut as Rogelio's "Diva" Mom

The Oscar winner says her character will stir the pot with Xo on Monday's episode.
Danny Feld

Jane the Virgins fans can be easily divided into two separate but equally important groups: Team Rafael and Team Michael. But Rita Moreno refuses to adhere to those limited options. "Everybody asks that," says Moreno. "I keep saying I'm Team Rogelio."

That's because the Oscar, Emmy, Golden Globe and Grammy winner guest-stars on Monday's episode as none other than the mother of the telenovela star. "I caught up on the show because I felt I had to know what I was saying yes to, and I was enchanted," says Moreno.

It's hard to say whether fans will be quite as enamored with Moreno's character. "She's a diva," says Moreno. "She's very imperious and she has loose lips. She just lets things slip that are mean sometimes and unkind."

It's well-documented just how narcissistic and temperamental Rogelio (Jaime Camil) can be, but viewers will see a new side to him when his mother, Sofia, comes to town. "He's such a mama's boy, and I don’t think anyone has ever seen that part of him on the show.

Although Rogelio will welcome the arrival of his mother – or as she prefers to be called "glam-ma" – with open arms, the same can't be said for his girlfriend, and now roommate, Xo (Andrea Navedo). "Xo is definitely not happy with her presence," says Moreno. "[Sofia's] problem is that she wants to take over and she feels that only she knows what is the right way to do anything."

Indeed, it's Sofia's determination to "help" her son that gets her into rough waters with his better half. "She obviously does not like her. I think she's jealous of her and I think that she can't quite understand how her son would go for someone so – what can I say? – common," says Moreno. "She thinks that Xo is a rather common person and that her son deserves way, way better than that; like her for instance."

Thankfully, Jane (Gina Rodriguez) makes a better impression on her "glam-ma." "Xo is a thorn in her side, but she loves Jane," says Moreno. "Jane has to play go-between in this episode because Xo is really ready to kill her. "

Rodriguez was just as influential behind the scenes. "What I didn't know, and she told me this in an e-mail, is that… she was the one who got me on the show. It was her request," says Moreno. "She just said she's admired how I've somehow managed to overcome a lot of serious racial bias in this business. She's taken inspiration from my actions, and she told me as much. I was very, very touched."

After all, it was Moreno who inspired Rodriquez to only take roles she was proud to portray. "She had refused to play certain roles because of they way they made her feel and the way they made younger girls feel about her," she told THR in August. "I found that interesting because my parents never thought that change was possible through art."

Rodriguez famously turned down a role on Devious Maids before Jane came along. Although TV has seen an increase in diversity this past year thanks to shows like Empire and Jane, Moreno says the fight is far from over. "Bias is so engrained and it's going to take a long, long time – if it ever happens at all – to be erased," says Moreno. "It's certainly not going to happen in my lifetime. It's very distressing but it's a reality."

However, she believes Jane the Virgin has had a positive impact on the conversation. "[The characters] have quirks just like everybody else and I think the show shows that in a wonderful and charming way," says Moreno.

Suffice it to say, this might not be the last time Jane's "glam-ma" comes to town. "I know that the actors were hounding the producers about doing one more with the mother," says Moreno. "I would love to come back and turn everything upside down."

Jane the Virgin airs Monday at 9 p.m. on The CW.

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