CHICAGO — Gina Rodriguez, the star of Jane the Virgin, is defending her Belmont Cragin upbringing speaking English, saying her lack of fluency in Spanish doesn't make her any less Latina.
Rodriguez — whose comedy about a virgin who is mistakenly artificially inseminated during a doctors visit debuts its second season tonight on the CW — has been criticized by some for not being "Hispanic enough."
But Rodriguez, 31, said her parents — her dad was a union organizer and her mother, Magali, was a Cook County employee who once ran for alderman — instructed her and her sisters to speak English in their Chicago home.
"They wanted to assimilate us into a culture that wouldn't, right away, put up their guard against us because of our accent," she tells the Huffington Post.
She has said she is "nervous" speaking Spanish but that doesn't mean she doesn't identify as Latina and resents Hispanics who criticize her for it.
"I'm going to be reprimanded by a culture that I'm supposed to support and is supposed to support me because of the way I was raised?" she told the Post last week. "That is too limiting. That is unfair."
"I am as Latina as they come. And I am not defined by anybody's definition of Latina. I don't actually sit in a definition. I walk in my world, happily and confidently."
Rodriguez said in a December Chicago magazine profile that she grew up salsa dancing but switched to acting after winning a role in A Chorus Line at St. Ignatious College prep. She later attended New York University.
In winning a Golden Globe last year, Rodriguez said the award "represents a culture that wants to see themselves as heroes."
Rodriguez' sister Ivelisse in an investment banker, the other, Rebecca, is a physician.
Gina Rodriguez told People magazine last year that she credits her success to her family: "These fierce women in my life who were kicking ass."
Her parents, though, were against her becoming an actress. She got a neighbor to sign a consent form when she went to audition for a commercial. She got the TV spot — and her parents got a call from the producers.
"I thought I was going to get in so much trouble, But I was going to get paid for the commercial so they said, 'Fine. You can do it if you put the money towards college.' I said, 'Done deal, baby seal. Let's do this.' "
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