Co-star: Jenni Rivera Never Forgot Where She Came From

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Jenni Rivera

Gina Rodriguez, the star of 2012 Sundance entry "Filly Brown" on the departed singer's fierce independence: "She was so hood. Hollywood couldn't change her."

This story first appeared in the Dec. 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

It’s been tough for me to tweet, Instagram or Facebook anything. Hard for me to think I should be entitled to do so when her family must be mourning beyond belief. Although I do believe the world should know how fantastic of a woman Jenni was, and always will be in our hearts. 

Prior to shooting [Filly Brown], I knew of her music and her women's rights voice. She was always campaigning for women and showing them through her strength how it’s possible for anyone to prevail. She empowered everyone who came in her path, and I was so blessed to be a part of that.

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While working with her in rehearsals before we began shooting, Jenni and I had a chance to get to know each other and our individual stories. These moments I will never forget. She is pure light, generosity and compassion.

Jenni Rivera was the everywoman. She was so hood, Hollywood couldn't change her. It's true: Her modesty, her vulnerability and her candidness was infectious. She was so straightforward and honest that you couldn't help but want to either be her or be her friend. Someone wanted a pic taken, someone wanted to speak to her, she would stop everything she was doing to listen. The woman is a true inspiration to the statement, ‘Don't forget the little people.’ She never forgot where she came from and taught me that no matter what, we can always be a better sister, friend, mom, wife, woman and human being to all. And for that, I thank you, Jenni.

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I pray for her family, her children who lost such an incredible mom and her fans who were just starting to get a glimpse of an outstanding and well-rounded artist. Jenni will forever be remembered not just by her family but by the world. Her imprint on the Latino community and the advancement of Latinos is one that is nothing short of historic. She was the change she wanted to see in the world and she will never be forgotten. 

We love you, Jenni. La diva will live in my heart forever.

May God bless all who were on that plane and their families for their loss.