When it comes to challenging Hollywood and its standards, Gina Rodriguez has never been one to shy away.
Coverage of “The Jane The Virgin” star has been tied to her advocacy for Latino representation and female empowerment since the start of her career. Her role in the #MeToo movement, impromptu speech on the SAG Awards carpet about Latino representation, and the letter that followed are proof of that.
Now, Rodriguez is using her platform to crack at one of the larger problems of her industry (the shortage of directors in Hollywood who are women and of color) by filling the role of director herself.
Rodriguez makes her directorial debut on Friday.
Rodriguez has starred as the titular lead for all 73 episodes of the show that made her famous. This week marks the actresses directorial debut as she steps behind the camera for the episode “Chapter Seventy-Four.” In an interview with Variety, Rodriguez explained what it was like for her to take on the duties of director and work with the show’s creator and show runner Jennie Snyder Urman.
“I found myself enjoying directing and acting [simultaneously] so much because I feel so instinctual with Jane and because as a director you’re given direct access to Jennie’s brain and what Jennie wants and what Jennie’s looking for and the tone,” Rodriguez told Variety. “Usually it goes from Jennie to the director to then us, so the director is translating what Jennie told them. I had the direct connection, and because of that, I was able to go out there and know that I was giving exactly what Jennie wanted.”
The star confesses that as freeing as the experience was, a lot of prep went into the final execution of her directing role.
To prepare, Rodriguez admits taking advantage of the show’s holiday hiatus. The long break gave Rodriguez a chance to step back from her acting duties and take time to develop her own directing strategy. She prepped by binging every single episode of the show and studying the various techniques of its directors.
“I’ve always been a pretty studious human being when it comes to preparation as an actor, but I went ham,” Rodriguez told Variety. “By the time it was time to direct, I knew every single line in the script. Maybe I went a little next level in preparation, but that’s what I think allowed me to fly.”
With all of the hard work that went into this debut, Rodriguez admits she could not have done it without the help of another woman.
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Rodriguez thanked Snyder Urman for being the one to open the door that is leading Rodriguez to a new opportunity in her career.
“It’s so beautiful that Jennie gave me the opportunity to do this. Our show is very hard to do. Our show is nothing to mess with, I mean the tone is specific,” Rodriguez told Entertainment Tonight. “Jennie is my muse, she’s my dream-maker and I’ll never be able to repay her, but I think by my actions I’ll be able to do that.”
Check out Rodriguez’s director debut tonight 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.