Society Magazine

Why Gina Rodriguez’s Golden Globe Win Is So Important For Young Latinas

Posted on the 14 January 2015 by Juliez
Why Gina Rodriguez’s Golden Globe Win Is So Important For Young Latinas

Gina Rodriguez as Jane the Virgin

If you tuned into the 2015 Golden Globe Awards, you may have noticed an unfamiliar face beating out powerhouse women like Lena Dunham, Edie Falco, Taylor Schilling, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus for Best Actress in a TV Series, Musical or Comedy. This young woman, Gina Rodriguez, not only conquered the awards show, but has also run away with the hearts of critics and viewers alike in the title role of The CW’s Jane The Virgin.

Considering how homogenous American media tends to be, Jane The Virgin is a welcome breath of fresh air. The show is about a virgin who is accidentally artificially inseminated with the sperm of a man she used to have a crush on who is also her boss and is (clearly) based on the telenovela style of nonstop drama. While the often silly, contrived plot lines might initially seem like a turn off, the show embraces these over-the-top plot twists and turns and imbue it with strong writing, character development and heart.

The show most notably accomplishes this by presenting characters who initially seem like they’ll follow tired tropes and allowing them depth that makes them incredibly relatable. For example, whereas many shows have previously portrayed Latina teenage moms as selfish and slutty, Jane’s mother (played by Andrea Navedo), who gave birth to Jane as a teen, is caring, audacious, and it’s always clear that her mistakes are made due to her benevolent desire to put her daughter first. This ultimately encourages viewers to examine their own prejudices and preconceived notions about people.

And then there’s Gina Rodriguez’s performance, which I could gush about for days. Rodriguez’s portrayal of Jane exudes an earnestness and intelligence that’s rare amongst most other female protagonists on TV. It’s especially incredible, though, to specifically see a hispanic female lead given agency and control over her life and emotions, especially given the insane circumstances of her situation. It’s no secret that television lacks leading female hispanic characters and that where latinas are present, they’re often relegated to unflattering stereotypes (ahem…Devious Maids). But it seems like Jane The Virgin‘s success may create opportunities for other latina actresses to play more complex characters. As Rodriguez herself said in her Golden Globes acceptance speech, “This award is so much more than myself. It represents a culture that wants to see themselves as heroes.”

Rodriguez has discussed never before feeling represented in the media, stating, “The way I grew up, I never saw myself on screen. I have two older sisters. One’s an investment banker. The other one is a doctor, and I never saw us being played as investment bankers. And I realized how limiting that was for me. I would look at the screen and think, ‘Well, there’s no way I can do it, because I’m not there.’ And it’s like as soon as you follow your dreams, you give other people the allowance to follow theirs.”

As a Latina, I relate immensely to this sentiment. I have always searched for realistic depictions of hispanic life in television shows and movies, and this show has come the closest to representing my experience than any other I’ve seen to date. Whether it’s the unapologetic use of Spanish at home (Abuela solely speaks Spanish and is responded to in English, much like in my Spanglish household) or the more general spirit of telenovelas being captured, this show is important to the hispanic community. Struggles that are real, such as immigration and achieving the American Dream, come to play in ways that feel very real to me and others that I have spoken to.

Ultimately, what separates Jane The Virgin from other shows aimed at young women is that it’s grounded in earnestness and authenticity. As The AV Club says, “Beneath its soapy exterior, this is a series about decent people trying to do their best in a difficult situation, one that will likely lead to future complications and lots of drama.” These characters, who could easily be larger than life, are grounded in reality by the honest choices they make given tough circumstance. They are honest about their shortcomings and their emotional choices always feel grounded in a strong sense of self — an immensely important, arguably unprecedented depiction of hispanic characters in the American media.

So are you still a Jane The Virgin virgin? (I’m sorry, I HAD to). If I haven’t convinced you, give the show a chance. Any hesitations that I had were swept away within the first 10 minutes and I’m sure you’ll find the same to be true for you, too.

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog