When Gina Rodriguez’s name was announced as this year’s Best Actress in a TV Comedy Golden Globe winner, a lot of people had the general reaction of "Who?” A small and vocal minority — that’s growing with every episode of The CW’s heartwarming telenovela that airs — shouted a triumphant “YES.” Jane the Virgin wouldn’t exist without Gina Rodriguez, but it also wouldn’t exist without the multifaceted character of Jane, who’s so much more than a virgin.
We recently spoke with the Jennie Snyder Urman, who developed and runs the show for The CW, about the character. Perhaps what’s so unique about Jane is that in a modern TV landscape that praises antiheroes and characters behaving badly, she is someone viewers can look up to. “I'm conscious about wanting Jane to be a role model,” Urman said. “Not that you want to do all of her choices, but just that she’s a good, honest character trying to make the best of a difficult situation. And I think that is something that I’m conscious of because I have a daughter, and I want to put smart women onscreen, who have dreams and who are thoughtful. That doesn’t have to turn out to be a boring.”
Urman also isn’t afraid to apply the dreaded “L” word to Jane, the one that’s so often a kiss of death for a character being considered interesting or worth talking about. “I think Jane is likable, but I don’t think being likable necessarily means that you’re less intelligent or less edgy or less interesting...I’m not going to be on board with a story in which Jane is sitting around, pining over boys, hoping that they like her. I’m gonna do a story where Jane is the active agent.”
Fans also send Urman emails thanking her and Rodriguez for bringing such a wonderful Latina character to the screen. “[They say], ‘Oh my gosh; it’s so nice to see a Latina character onscreen, and she’s not a bad guy or a gardener or a nanny. Not that those aren’t great professions, but there’s a range like with anyone that you would know…Working on this show really helped me understand the power of that representation.”
The character was never fully formed, though, until Rodriguez came in to read for the role. “When an actor comes in [to audition], and they make it sound better than what’s in your head, and they fill out the edges, suddenly you see a person, and it’s really thrilling as a writer to see that happen and to learn more about your characters through their representation of that character. From the minute Gina came in, I understood much more about Jane,” Urman told us.
The Hollywood Foreign Press — along with fans and critics everywhere — are just confirming what a phenomenal performance and character Urman and Rodriguez have created.