Gina Rodriguez, star of the CW network television show “Jane the Virgin” speaks to The Collegian’s arts and entertainment editor after a speech on Friday, April 28 in the lobby of the Frank W. Thomas Building. (Daniel Avalos/ The Collegian

Gina Rodriguez empowers students

Actress. Activist. Feminist.

 

Gina Rodriguez, star of the hit CW network television show “Jane the Virgin,” uses her celebrity status to represent people of color, underrepresented cultures and fight for women’s rights.

 

Rodriguez came to Fresno State on April 28 to talk to students about self-love, empathy and her journey as a Latina woman.

 

“Life is much more enjoyable when you uplift and give love,” Rodriguez said. “Self-love is what is going to fuel activism.”

 

Rodriguez’s talk was centered around a mantra her father taught her: “Today is going to be a great day. I can and I will.” She told the audience her story of how her father made her repeat this phrase every day when she was a child, and she is still repeating it 17 years later.

 

The words “I can and I will” have inspired Rodriguez to create her own production company, which will focus on properly representing Latina women on screen. She focused on the importance of watching programs with a Latino cast.

 

“Girls like me were never the lead in TV shows. [Because of that] I didn’t believe I could succeed,” Rodriguez said. “If you want to see yourself, support yourself.”

 

Many young women in the audience asked Rodriguez questions about becoming successful. Mostly, her response to them was to understand being a woman, and a person of color, is a strength – not a weakness.

 

“I get fueled by the idea of solution versus problem,” Rodriguez said. “Right now, you think you’re the problem, but, on the contrary, you are the solution. You are a strong badass woman.”

 

Multiple times throughout the speech, Rodriguez talked about dealing with rejection.

 

“Positivity, solution, power. You own all of them. It’s your journey, make it what you want it to be,” Rodriguez said. “One person’s ‘no’ is not the end of your journey. Try and fail and try again.”

 

In a one-on-one interview with The Collegian, Rodriguez said young women should not be scared of the job search that comes after college graduation.

 

“I think the exciting thing about getting out of college and getting into the real world is that you actually start to craft the life that you want,” Rodriguez said. “It can be intimidating, but so is college and you handled it just fine.

 

Rodriguez promised “the real world” is more fun.
“So get out there and start making your dreams come alive.”