Beverly Hills, Calif. — Gina Rodriguez, the star of The CW’s Jane the Virgin, said she didn’t want to take on just any role.
“I wasn’t going to let my introduction to the world be one of a story that I think has been told many times,” she said during the TCA summer press tour panel for the show on Friday. “I want it to be a story that is going to liberate young girls.”
Rodriguez — who was joined on stage by series costars Andrea Navedo, Justin Baldoni, Yael Grobglas, Brett Dier, Ivonne Coll and Jaime Camil as well as executive producers Jennie Snyder Urman and Ben Silverman — explained that as she grew up she didn’t see many actors like her on television, and she wanted to change that.
“For me, to look on younger girls and to say ‘Well, Gina’s like me,’” she said. “Maybe not necessarily the same skin color. Maybe not necessarily the same background. But like, ‘that’s me! I’m not alone. I can do it too.’”
Jane the Virgin follows Jane Villanueva, a Latina living in Miami who was accidentally artificially inseminated by her doctor. Snyder, who wrote the script, attempted to portray the culture authentically.
“We’re talking to 50 million people in this country when you say that. It is outrageous how on point Jennie [is],” said Rodriguez.
Jane the Virgin premieres on The CW on Oct. 13 at 9 p.m. ET.
Other highlights from the panel included:
—Urman said that she wanted the series to have a “fairytale, whimsical quality,” describing the show as “Ugly Betty meets Gilmore Girls.”
—Coll, who plays Jane’s grandmother Alba in the series, opened up about whether she thought her character, a conservative Latina, was a stereotype. “I think it’s a fact of life. And I think we’re being subtle.” She added that in reality she thinks grandmothers are more stern because the Latin American culture is rooted in Catholic and evangelical beliefs.
—Earlier in the panel, Coll commented on her character speaking Spanish to her granddaughter in the pilot. “Grandmothers that are immigrants, like my character is, she would speak Spanish to her granddaughter even if they answer in English,” said Coll. “And that’s the reality in America right now. That’s exactly how grandparents communicate with their American born grandchildren and children.”
—Jane the Virgin is based on a Venezuelan telenovela, Juana la Virgen, that ran in 2002 but Coll said the series is not just a remake. “It was interesting to see this adaptation because it’s more than a telenovela, this show. It’s a take on a telenovela.”
—Silverman on what it takes to make the show stand out from the CW’s vampire, fantasy and comic book-based fare: “Well, I think these people here stand out and the show stands out. So the main thing that I keep thinking about and my conversation with CBS and the CW is how do we get it sampled because the best calling card for this is the pilot.”