With this week's episode of "Jane The Virgin," Gina Rodriguez made her directorial debut. She also directed her first sex scene, which happened to be her own. The episode featured the first sex scene between Rodriguez's character Jane and her on-again, off-again love interest Rafael, played by Justin Baldoni. Not only was Rodriguez up to the challenge, but she proved to be an intuitive and empathetic leader.
One of Rodriguez's top concerns as a director was creating an environment that was both safe and positive, while also trying to create a beautiful moment between two of the shows starring characters.
"I think that the male gaze on the female body is very different than when you have a female gaze on this kind of scene, because I knew what was going to make me feel comfortable," Rodriguez explained to TV Guide. "I knew how it was going to make me not only comfortable, but make me feel beautiful, make me feel confident, make me feel sexy."
Baldoni has been up front about his own struggles with body dysmorphia and the pressure he feels to stay in shape. As a director, Rodriguez was protective of Baldoni's feelings and experiences, something she added isn't always the case when women work with male directors.
"I was able to give that to my male co-star when, stereotypically, people wouldn't think that men go through this experience," she said. "They don't feel confident in front of the lens all the time. They don't feel manly or buff or ripped. I was able to show Justin just how handsome and masculine he was and could be and really wanted to feel."
As to how Rodriguez found her way behind the camera she owes it to her Jane The Virgin boss. "So Jennie Urman, it's all because of her," she said. "And so many people have her to thank for their first directorial debut opportunities. ... She's kind of a next-level angel and no one really talks about it or I don't think people talk about it enough. But it's because of her that I've been afforded this opportunity."
When it comes to the rest of Hollywood, a chance for a woman to direct is a rare opportunity indeed. A recent study showed that only about 17% of television directors are women. The number goes down to 11% when looking at the top 250 grossing films of the past year. Things are different on the set of Jane the Virgin, though. Jennie Snyder Urman made it a priority to have 80% of the directors and writers be women.
Directing while playing the lead in a show is no small feat. Rodriguez told TV Guide that it was an exhilarating experience that utilized all of her experiences up to this point. "I just want to direct all the time," and after seeing this week's Jane The Virgin we can all hope she gets the change to do just that.
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