9:00am PT by Danielle Turchiano
'Jane the Virgin's' Gina Rodriguez on Jane's Risky Future, Tackling Immigration
There is no question that television's it girl right now is Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez, who represented The CW — and all of network television — when she took home the Golden Globe for best actress in a comedy. But calling her that may be a somewhat limiting a term. The rising star is not just a fresh face but also a young woman with a very powerful voice and important, inspirational message — and she is on a show with an equally strong voice and message. The similarities don't end there.
"The same way Jane is transforming in her life about finding out what's real and what's important and what makes her grounded — what's a priority [and] what's necessary in her life and who she wants to be — so am I," Rodriguez told The Hollywood Reporter during a recent set visit. "There was a transformation that happened where Jane was like, 'I do want this child; why am I talking like I don't? I don't want to be the woman that goes into this pregnancy with resentment or any kind of ill will toward my child.' It's the same way I am understanding the woman I want to be in all of this. … I want to soak up every moment; I want to soak up every day; I don't want to worry about tomorrow. And I want to make sure that I focus on the work because that's what got me here. You know, they make jokes when I come on set, like, 'Oh, Miss Golden Globe winner!' But I still have to prove I'm worth that. If anything more so now, I have to show them they made the right decision."
Here, Rodriguez previews what to expect in the second half of Jane's freshman season and what she feels the show is doing best.
Jane has been going through such a big transformation, physically with the pregnancy, but also with her relationships — romantic and familial. Where is her main focus when we pick up with "Chapter Ten"?
On her family. When we left Jane, she made a very big decision about dropping the lawsuit, which had felt uncomfortable to her. Her backing down from the lawsuit was about remembering what matters to her, which is really family. She has been such a militant disciplinarian [at times], and she really had to think, "Why am I doing this? To teach somebody a lesson? Over my family being safe — my grandmother being safe? Why am I the one who has to be that teacher?" That wasn't right. We all do — we realize that we may have made a mistake, may need to re-evaluate what we're doing. So when we come back, after Abuela [Ivonne Coll] fell down the stairs, you're going to see just how much family means to [Jane], and just how much Michael [Brett Dier] is in love with Jane and the things that Michael will do to protect Jane.
But Jane made her choice, and her choice was not Michael.
And it definitely will weigh on the audience [in] who's better for Jane and who has Jane's best interest. She's not very aware of what Michael's doing, which to me strengthens Michael's love for her — or at least validates how much he loves her [because] he's not doing it for her love in return. You're going to see that representation, between Michael and Rafael [Justin Baldoni], [of] dreams and reality. I really like that dichotomy of where her safety zone is, because you'll be able to understand why she makes certain decisions when it comes to men — because of her fear. Jane has legitimate, real fears and doesn't want to mess up. She's got this thing about her where she's so afraid of messing up, of missing out, of losing, of hurting someone that she holds tight. She's going to go through a point where she's introducing Rafael to her life — to her family — and has to make risky choices. That's very new for Jane.
Do you want to see her take more risks at this point?
Yes! In all regards: in work, love and relationships. I want to see her take more risks because — and I don't know this because I've never been a mom before [but] I see my older sisters [and] that kind of transformation of having a baby, you almost realize your timeline. It's like, "OK, I'm bringing somebody into this world; that means I'm a mom now; that means it's a new chapter in my life, and I want to make sure that they're going to be able to get everything — get all this wisdom from me — but what do I know? What have I explored?" There's no way she can go through this transformation where her whole life is going to flip upside down, where she's going to say, "OK, what have I missed out on?" or "What should I not do anymore?"
Does that mean some questionable decision making will be in Jane's future?
Possibly. You're going to see her go through that pool of, "Yes, I feel like I have a clock on me, so what have I not done, or what have I not fought for?" You're going to see that a lot in her relationship with Rafael.
The show is exploring a romantic relationship between Jane and Rafael at this point. Just how close are they getting, and does it look like they're in it for the long haul?
Rafael shows Jane his love, loyalty and dedication to her by allowing her to be involved in his life. That's how he shows love, and it is interesting, because how Michael shows love is he protects Jane. [Whereas] with Rafael, he says, "What's mine is yours; I'm not hiding anything from you." But when you open yourself so much in that way, there's always a question of "Why are you letting me know so much? We just started." She definitely starts to doubt things [in the next few episodes]. … Jane is not an idiot; she's not naive; she's just hopeful. She sees the positive. She's not looking the other way; she's just making sure she's looking the right away. And Jane is very loyal; Jane is not the "let me keep this guy on the side just in case" type. [So Jane and Rafael] are trying it, but you may see her say, "I've got to take a pause. Let me figure this out."
Abuela's "accident" certainly has to put things in perspective for Jane. How concerned should we be for the matriarch of the Villanueva family?
It's not just about her having to recuperate in the hospital but also her status in this country. I love the fact that we bring up immigration because it is an ever-present problem in our country. Why anyone isn't allowed to be anywhere in our country, obviously it has to do with tax reasons [too], but that's crazy, or that's disappointing. Having an actress on our show, Diane Guerrero, who has spoken very openly about her situation with immigration and losing her family, I think it's important to have these social commentary episodes that you're not beating people over the head with it. Nobody likes to be beat over the head with anything. And I really like the fact that they integrated something so valuable and so important in our daily lives.
We've seen Jane make decisions based on her family and her grandmother's immigration status — to protect her family. Will we see fallout from her making so many decisions for others and not for herself?
That happens to Jane a lot. Her longing to be a problem solver — you see the repercussions of [that]: You just can't fix everything! I have that problem too. You will see how Jane's meddling will get on people's not-so-good side. She's not perfect. It comes a little later, dealing with Rafael and Michael, and trying to fix [Xiomara's] life.
The Sin Rostro mystery seems to be unraveling a bit more, but with everything else going on in Jane's world, at what point does she get involved in it?
When it starts to affect Rafael to the extent that it's going, you're going to see Jane step in, and we actually have a very funny episode coming up in a few episodes where, when Jane starts getting involved, you're going to see how much that reflects on Jane's upbringing with the telenovela world. So she's going to start seeing Rafael as such.
Does that give you almost a new version of Jane to play because of how much bigger everything is in a telenovela?
Well, at that point, she's playing it straight. She's seeing everything around her as a telenovela, and she's a spectator. But in episodes 14, 15, 16, I do get to play; I get to go into fantasyland. You will see Jane fall into her fantasies, and that's going to be really fun [because] I do get to go somewhere else as an actor, and obviously at times as an actor I would really like to go to those crazy places. [But for the most part on Jane the Virgin] I like getting to keep everything in a real place or else it could be campy.
Jane the Virgin airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on The CW. Are you Team Michael, Team Rafael or just Team Jane? Sound off in the comments below.