To wit: She affectionately refers to her fans as "her warriors" and has made it her priority to empower them in every way she can. Her #MovementMondays posts on Instagram celebrate Hollywood's oft-overlooked cultural diversity and she openly shares her own journey to self-acceptance, or, as she puts it below, shutting down the voice in her head.
Her latest move in this journey is perfectly fitting: a #frizzfreehairgoals partnership with John Frieda that seeks to empower women to work with their natural hair texture, instead of against it. As you'll read in the Q&A below, the Jane the Virgin actress knows a thing or two about the subject — and might even inspire you in a way you didn't expect...
Let's talk hair: What is your relationship with your hair texture like?
"Love love love! I have always had a love relationship with my hair, because growing up, my mom had this delicious, gorgeous wavy hair and I got it...You kind of always want what your parents have. My mom was my idol. She was beautiful and confident, she didn’t wear a lot of makeup and she didn’t do much to her hair.
"I have an older sister who has extremely curly hair and we both wanted my mom’s hair...I thought my sister's hair was beautiful, she had this beautiful [head] of delicious, glorious Amazonian hair, but she hated it. And that’s why I decided to accept my hair at a very early age."
I am a victim of wanting what I don’t have...sadly, it's the way we’ve been trained.
"[It's] a discussion for societal norms. You’ve been born into this body, you’ve been born into a specific life. [But] so often, we’re looking at a 'grass is always greener' situation instead of working with what we were given, accepting what we were given, and doing the best we can to have a relationship with that. I am constantly interacting with my fans, or my warriors as I call them, about this."
You call your fans warriors?
"My warriors! They’re my warriors, because they’re fighting for my career! Let’s be honest, [with all] their support, their watching of the show, their commitment to being a part of the movies that I do — they’re fighting for me and I am so appreciative of it. Their intention means a lot to me — everything they’re doing for me I can do for them as well...I interact with my fans and there is a constant conversation of ‘I don’t want to look like this,' 'I don't like my hair,' or 'I don't like my body.'
It’s an interesting thing, when it comes to hair, because it’s not going to change. Your hair follicles are not going to start changing the texture of your hair all of a sudden, but instead, [I say] to start working with it. What I love about John Frieda in particular, is that they have products for each kind of hair, so really, the search should be, 'What is going to work best for me with what I’ve been given?,' versus, 'How do I get something else?' That is the conversation we are constantly having in society."
What's your message to your fans who are fighting their hair texture instead of accepting it?
"It would be this: Let’s talk about logic, about reality. You’ve been given something that’s beautiful and perfect for you, so instead of wondering what you can do to be something else, let’s figure out what you can do to love who you are today and work with what you have today!
"It’s something that I am always telling myself, too. I see myself on-screen all the time and I can’t lie, I’m not void of these feelings. I am a victim of wanting what I don’t have. Sadly, it's the way we’ve been trained."
How do you personally rise above it?
"Think about what 7-year-old you thought. 7-year-old me was not concerned with my weight, concerned if I had the prettiest or the longest hair, or if I was the tallest or smartest girl in the school. I was of wonder and imagination and kindness, and I wanted to give and play and take risks and jump and leap — that is who we are! Then, society comes and starts saying, 'Don’t touch that, don't do that. Oh, you have straight hair, too bad you don’t have curly hair,' or, 'Oh, too bad because you would be beautiful if you were 5-foot-10, but you’re only 5-foot-4. Then, you start to get this conditioning in your mind. We don’t even realize that that voice is not who we are.
I was of wonder and imagination and kindness, and I wanted to give and play and take risks and jump and leap — that is who we are!
"And I think: Who am I talking to? Who am I having this conversation with? What is this? Who is that voice? Because it’s not me! Because 7-year-old Gina loved what she looked like in the mirror. She didn’t need to look like any other image and I stared thinking, Wow, how dangerous this is.
"I was able to actively stop and say, 'No no no, go away! You’re not going to win today! You’re not going to allow me to not experience what’s happening; how excited I am that I am getting a body cast for a movie that I am going to shoot in London! Don’t do that, stop!' We, sadly, don’t all know how to talk to that voice, so when it comes to hair, to us wanting different hair, talk to that voice, and say, 'Why are you here? Why are you trying to take away from the beautiful hair that I have been given? Why? Why is it that I can’t look in the mirror and love this?'
I am 31 and it’s taken me a long time. These are the conversations that I am finally having...
You’re such a good role model...
"I don’t know about that! I know that I have a lot of good role models around me and I am discovering this about myself. I am going through the character work, I am going through the soul work right now. I am 31 and it’s taken me a long time. These are the conversations that I am finally having — I want these girls to have these conversations way before I did. I want to be able to touch them.
"That’s another reason why I love John Frieda: because it is accessible to everyone. My fans are of a variety of backgrounds and demographics, they come from different parts of the planet and they can have access to it the way that I did. Because I grew up in a low-income family and it was a luxury — and it was a great luxury — and that’s why I love them. You can have access to something that a quote -unquote star wears. I ain’t no different! I want the same thing. I want to get rid of frizz so that when I take a picture, I don’t have my roots having their own life, but I want to do it and still feel good about myself, not think that there is something wrong with it. I have learned to work with my hair."
Last question: What's your current routine like?
"I do have naturally curly hair and it is frizzy, which is totally fine, I just know that Frizz Ease, if I put it on right after a blowdry, or even before I blowdry it, it’s going to be great, it’s going to live. Because I have a lot of natural oils, I don’t go too ham on it. If I put a dime-size amount through my hair entire head and blowdry it and I am going to have like 75% less frizz. Then, I'll use Secret Weapon when it’s dry, or Dream Curls. I love Dream Curls, because it gives you that beachy, natural wave that I think everyone sort of wants. It's about testing it out and maybe saying, 'Okay, maybe I will try it after the blowdry next,' and kind of figuring out what works the best for you."