HSF Leadership Role:Member, HSF Board of Directors
The youngest of three daughters, Ms. Rodriguez was born to Puerto Rican parents and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Her start as a performer began with salsa dancing at the age of seven. And while she continued to love dancing, as she grew older – as she explained in an OK! Magazine article – she “felt the need to talk” as an artist, and as a representative of her community.
Her desire to have speaking roles blended well with her parents’ emphasis on getting the best possible education. At sixteen, she was one of thirteen students accepted from countries around the globe into Columbia University’s Theatrical Collaboration program, where she wrote, directed, and performed original work with her peers.
She went on to attend New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts. An HSF scholarship helped her achieve her academic goals.
Directly after graduation, she booked her first lead role in the feature film “Tiny Dancer.” This led to various roles on stage, screen, and television, including her role as the lead in the feature film “Filly Brown,” where she won an Imagen award for “Best Actress in a Feature Film.”
She decided early in her career that she wouldn't play characters that didn't serve as role models for young Latinos. “It mattered for me to see Latinos on screen playing the characters of doctors, lawyers, and investment bankers, because then it made me feel like I belonged to that demographic,” she said.
Today, she is the star of the CW hit show “Jane the Virgin.” TheHollywood Reporter was prescient in calling her “the next big thing,” just prior to her winning the award for “Best Actress in a TV Comedy” at the 2015 Golden Globes.
Ms. Rodriguez is a member of HSF’s Board of Directors, and both she and her family are long-time supporters of the Latino community, through a number of philanthropic efforts. Some of her recent projects include teaming up with and designing a t-shirt for CustomInk’s 5th annual “Be Good To Each Other” bullying prevention campaign in support of the Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights (PACER)’s National Bullying Prevention Center. She is also a co-founder of Naja, a lingerie line created specifically to provide environmentally-conscious products, while advocating for the betterment of women’s lives.
Recently, she participated in HSF’s second annual National Leadership Conference, where she and fellow-actor Adam Rodriguez spoke to the 100 top HSF Scholars selected to attend the four-day event, about embracing their inner capacity for influence and power.
Ms. Rodriguez’s advice to young Latinas, which she shared in an interview with Cosmopolitan, is: “Get an education. The one thing that nobody can take away from you is your education.”