15 Gina Rodriguez Facts And Why She Ditched The LA Scene (Mostly)

Gina Rodriguez shot to fame when she took on the role of sweet, neurotic Jane Villanueva on the acclaimed show "Jane the Virgin," beginning in 2014. The CW show lasted for five seasons, during which time Rodriguez won a Golden Globe and was nominated for two more (in addition to a number of other awards). While appearing on "Jane the Virgin," Rodriguez also took on a variety of movie roles, including the drama "Sticky Notes," the disaster flick "Deepwater Horizon," and the horror film "Annihilation." She frequently hit the press circuit hard, appearing on a slew of magazine covers, from Shape to Glamour to Marie Claire, and a whole bunch of talk shows. In just a handful of years, Rodriguez rose from obscurity to the A-list.

Around the time "Jane the Virgin" was wrapping up, Rodriguez starred in the action film "Miss Bala" and the Netflix romantic comedy "Someone Great," both of which further raised her profile. She also started voicing the titular character in Netflix's animated reboot, "Carmen Sandiego," and worked on a number of projects developed by her own production company. Rodriguez currently stars on "Not Dead Yet," an ABC comedy about a journalist who gets stuck writing obituaries and quickly realizes she can see the dead people she is tasked with writing about. Beyond her acting, Rodriguez is a producer, director, and advocate who leads a fascinating life. Here are 15 interesting facts about Gina Rodriguez — including why she has stepped back from the LA scene.

She ditched the LA scene – at least part-time

Given that the center of the entertainment business is Hollywood, a majority of big-name celebrities tend to live in or around Los Angeles. Some others opt to live in New York City, London, or other cities where show business is omnipresent. It's rarer for celebrities to move to places a bit more off the grid, but not completely unheard of. Celebrities like Matthew McConaughey (who lives in Texas) and Mark Wahlberg (who lives in Nevada) have maintained their thriving careers after leaving Tinseltown, and some people — like Jeff Daniels, who lives in Michigan — have managed to live elsewhere for the entirety of their careers. So, Gina Rodriguez is certainly not the first actor to leave Los Angeles, even if it is still not the norm.

For her part, Rodriguez is sort of half-in, half-out when it comes to the Los Angeles thing. She and her husband moved to Oregon during the pandemic, and it is there that they feel most comfortable (per Glamour). But the duo still need to split their time between locations, if only due to Rodriguez's current gig on "Not Dead Yet," filmed in the Los Angeles metro. Still, Rodriguez considers herself at least a part-time Oregonian. "After we started visiting friends in Bend, we fell in love with Oregon, which is now our second home. We try and spend half the year there," she told The New York Times. "It's such a beautiful state. There are so many different climates and things to see — the mountains, the coast, the woods."

She grew up in Chicago in a household influenced by her Puerto Rican roots

While both California and Oregon may be "home" for Gina Rodriguez nowadays, the actor actually grew up far from the West Coast altogether. She was born and raised in Chicago, in a neighborhood that she has described as being on the rougher side of the tracks. Per a Forbes piece from 2016, Rodriguez grew up in an area where gangs were dominant, and opportunities were scarce. She was raised in a Catholic household with a deep connection to her Puerto Rican heritage (per Bust), in a neighborhood (Belmont Cragin) that is 80% Hispanic, per the latest official data.

Rodriguez is one of four children — per a video she made for Wired, she has two sisters and a brother — and grew up in a family where education was prioritized. As the youngest child, she always felt she had big shoes to fill, especially after her older sisters became successful in investment banking and medicine (per Interview magazine). "For me, growing up in the inner city of Chicago in a low-income family that was very challenged financially, education was the means to creating opportunity and overcoming my circumstances," she explained in the Forbes article. "My parents did not graduate college, but they made sure that each and every one of us did. I am a product of that success because even as an actress, should I not have been able to get technically trained or become educated, I wouldn't be sitting here today."

She was a dancer before she started acting

Gina Rodriguez knew she wanted to perform from a very early age, but it was not until she became a teenager that she caught the acting bug. She started salsa dancing at age seven and toured with a number of companies, including Soneros del Swing, which opened for Marc Anthony at one point (per Chicago magazine and Interview magazine). "It was fantastic, but I realized that I really wanted to talk every time we were performing," she told Interview. "That's a problem because when you're dancing, if you stop to talk, that's not really cool to the other dancers." By age 17, she quit dancing altogether to follow her acting dreams (via OK! Magazine).

According to Chicago magazine, Rodriguez discovered acting when she was cast in a production of "A Chorus Line" at her high school, St. Ignatius College Prep. She then attended a summer acting program at Columbia University when she was 16, which led her to pursue acting in college. She once told Cosmopolitan that she had decided she would one day have her own television show by age 14 — a feat she accomplished just before she turned 30. "I get invigorated when I make people laugh, cry, decide something new about themselves, or discover something real about themselves. I realized I was doing it a little bit when I was dancing, but I wanted to use my voice. I wanted to tell stories," Rodriguez explained to Complex, the year before her big "Jane the Virgin" break.

She moved to New York City for college

Because education was so important in Gina Rodriguez's household, she opted to study acting in college before heading out on professional auditions. "When college came around, I was like 'If I'm going to do this, I've got to do it right," she explained to Interview magazine. "I really felt like I had a little bit of pressure to do it in a way that my parents could see fit." This meant higher education, which is what led Rodriguez to move to New York City at the end of high school. There she enrolled at New York University, where she studied at the university's prestigious Tisch School of the Arts. While there, was blessed to have guest teachers like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Phylicia Rashad, William H. Macy, and David Mamet (per Backstage).

By the time she graduated NYU in 2005, Rodriguez had already landed on television, in a guest spot on "Law and Order" in 2004. She continued to live in the Big Apple for a handful more years before moving coasts, during which time she struggled to find consistent work before her first break in an independent film called "Filly Brown" in 2012 (per Bust). But the magic of New York City allows Rodriguez to look back at that time in her life rather fondly — at least in terms of location. "To me, New York City is all about being outside, watching people, being on the subway, sitting in the middle of Times Square and realizing how small you are," she told Cosmopolitan.

She has an autoimmune disorder

Like many others around the world, Gina Rodriguez's life has been impacted by chronic illness — something the actor has no problem discussing in interviews. Before her diagnosis with a thyroid disorder called Hashimoto's disease, Rodriguez says she was sleeping up to 18 hours a day and, despite not having much of an appetite, gaining weight because of the havoc wreaked on her metabolism (per Women's Health). "It was difficult for me to stay in the comfortable zone of my weight. I was very tired. My fatigue was through the roof. When everyone else was cold, I was sweating bullets," she explained to People magazine in 2016. Per Self, Rodriguez began experiencing symptoms hypothyroidism at 19 years old and was diagnosed with Hashimoto's at 26.

Though there is no cure for the auto-immune disorder, there are ways to manage Hashimoto's impact on one's life. Rodriguez has said that she did not cooperate with the guidelines at first, instead rebelling against the disease by not taking her medication or eating foods that did not agree with her (per Self). And though she did eventually get on board with treatment, she told Women's Health that drugs stopped working for her years ago — and so, she turned to natural coping methods. "I've also had to buckle down and stop eating certain things that don't do well with my body. Now I look at foods I'm allergic to, like strawberries and blueberries, and say, 'You don't play well with me, so I have to stop messing with you," she said.

Despite Hollywood pressures, she has a healthy body image

Hashimoto's disease makes it quite difficult to maintain a healthy weight, but Gina Rodriguez has learned ways to stay in shape while managing her disorder. She also has quite the healthy relationship with her body, despite the pressures of Hollywood. "I work in an industry where I am constantly being told, 'You're not skinny enough. You're not tall enough. You're not ethnic enough...being constantly told that you are not enough can wear down any woman – any person, period," she explained to People. "But I have to remember that this is a game. And if the game says I should be looking like this, then I just don't play that role. And that's okay."

Still, that is not to say that Rodriguez is immune to the aesthetic pressures that come along with being a Hollywood starlet. She told Bust that earlier in her career, she was told she could not play the lead because she was not skinny, tall, or pretty enough. Even after breaking out with "Jane the Virgin" — a role for which she was encouraged not to lose weight by the higher-ups (per Self) — there were some negative experiences. "I remember my first cover shoot. I heard them ¬whispering, 'When she stands like that, it doesn't look good.' Those comments feel like knives from across the room," Rodriguez said in a 2019 interview with Cosmopolitan. "I can hear you! And who f**king cares if it doesn't look attractive? This is the way I look when I sit. My sh*t folds!"

She met her husband on the set of Jane the Virgin

Gina Rodriguez married her husband Joe LoCicero in May 2019, after becoming engaged to him the prior summer (per Us Weekly). But they did not get together right after meeting, despite a great "meet cute" story. Rodriguez and LoCicero first met when LoCicero, also an actor, guest starred on an episode of "Jane the Virgin." But the best part of the story has to do with the role the actor played — a stripper named Don Quixote. "He came on as a stripper that my mother hired for my bachelorette party, and Jane is like, super against it and super terrified and just, like, doesn't know what to do with all that. But Gina does," Rodriguez joked on "The Tonight Show" when discussing LoCicero's character with host Jimmy Fallon [0:45].

As Rodriguez explained to Fallon, it was not until six months later that the pair started a romance, after a chance meeting at a boxing gym. Per Us Weekly, they made their first red carpet appearance in January 2017, which is well after that episode of "Jane the Virgin" aired in April of the previous year. In the years that follows, LoCicero came back to "Jane" four more times, in different small parts like "Prince Charming" and "Alien Soldier Man." Rodriguez has also applauded LoCicero's ability to take a backseat to her fame without having an ego about it (per Cosmopolitan). On July 30, 2022 — her birthday! — Rodriguez announced her pregnancy on Instagram in a cute video montage.

She identifies as a feminist and works with a number of non-profits

With all of her acting (and producing and directing and endorsements and so on), you would think that Gina Rodriguez would have such a full plate that she could not engage in social causes in a hands-on way. But, no, the actor is actually quite active in a number of movements and with a number of non-profit organizations. Rodriguez identifies as a feminist and told Bust magazine that has attended multiple marches including the 2017 Women's March, and took the day off from "Jane the Virgin" as part of the A Day Without A Woman strike. She is also active in the Time's Up movement and was a keynote speaker at an Austin "Women to Watch" event in 2018 (per People).

In partnership with the Time's Up movement, Rodriguez was one of the Hollywood actors who helped facilitate the partnership with Latinx House, which advocates for community, engagement, and opportunities for Latinx people (per The Hollywood Reporter). "It's empowering and encouraging and viscerally stimulating to be a part and lend the little voice I have to this giant cause of beautiful change towards a more fair world, a more fair environment," Rodriguez once told Self about her involvement with MeToo and Time's Up. Beyond that, Rodriguez also appeared on Lin-Manuel Miranda's charity song to help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico, participated in an anti-bullying campaign in coordination with PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center, and at one point sat on the Board of Directors for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund.

She has been a vocal advocate for Latinx representation

One of Rodriguez's most passionate causes is advocating for more Latinx representation on screen and behind the scenes of Hollywood. According to Time, she began a campaign in January 2016, called "Movement Mondays," to support and celebrate Latinx actors. If you are a fan, this probably won't surprise you since Rodriguez has been talking about Latinx representation for the entirety of her career. "I felt very alone growing up. I didn't feel represented. I didn't feel a part of the conversation," she told Cosmopolitan. "And if you see yourself projected, you believe you are worthy, valuable."

It is not just the quantity of Latinas on screen that Rodriguez has spoken about, but also the quality of such representations. "The blonde girl with blue eyes doesn't only have to tell a story that we all have lived. We should no longer say that a Latina can't be goofy looking or quirky or funny or have a normal American story," Rodriguez told Desde Hollywood just after the premiere of "Jane the Virgin." It is not lip service, either, since Rodriguez has confessed to refusing to audition for roles that promote one-note stereotypes about Latinas. For instance, she told Backstage that she refused to audition for the show "Devious Maids," despite pressure from others. "My agents said, 'Will you just read it?' I read it and I was like, 'Nope.' And they were like, 'Just read it again," she explained. "And again, it's just not a part of my particular journey."

Some of her inclusion-based comments have been controversial

Though we are big Gina Rodriguez fans, we would be remiss if we did not note that not everyone is on board with the actor's hot takes. In particular, she has caught some heat over the years for a variety of comments she has made about equality (or a lack thereof). On July 23, 2017, she tweeted "Marvel and DC are killing it in inclusion and women but where are the Latinos!? Asking for a friend..." (via FASHION), which some felt took away from the significance of "Black Panther" in terms of representation of people of color (the tweet was in response to the film).

Rodriguez also offended some when she said that Latinas have it worse than Black women in terms of pay equality, in a Net-a-Porter actor's roundtable, and again when she misdirected a complement for actor Yara Shahidi in a joint interview in 2018. When Shahidi was praised for being a role model for young Black women, Rodriguez said, "For so many women. Women. Yeah. Yeah," which many again labelled as "anti-black" in its meaning. Rodriguez has apologized for all of these instances, suggesting that she has been misunderstood and that she supports diversity in all its forms. "If I have hurt you, I am sorry, and I will always be sorry," she said in a Sirius XM interview in 2019. ""You have to know, until you know my heart, there is no way we can live off clickbait."

She has been open about her mental health struggles

We have already established that Gina Rodriguez is an open book, and this extends to her experiences with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. On numerous occasions, Rodriguez has discussed her mental health, including recounting some of her lowest moments as well as detailing the coping mechanisms she uses to manage her issues. For instance, Rodriguez has said that her anxiety at one point got so bad that she had to stop work on "Jane the Virgin." "There was a point where I couldn't...push through every single time anymore," Rodriguez told Teen Vogue in 2019. "It came to a point, this last season was the first season where I had to stop production. I had a really tumultuous season and I was unafraid for the first time to be like, 'I can't.'"

By that point, anxiety had become a regular part of life for Rodriguez, who told Cosmopolitan that she started to get panic attacks two years into the run of her hit show. "I had my first panic attack at a sushi restaurant. All of a sudden, I thought I was going to die, and people are taking pictures. It was horrendous," she told the publication. In addition to anxiety, Rodriguez has opened up about dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts (via HuffPost). She said in a Chicago magazine interview that she feels compelled to share her mental health struggles because, as a public figure, she knows she can make people feel less alone.

In addition to acting, she also directs and produces

Like many actors today, Gina Rodriguez has her own production company. And while it is not unusual for actors to become interested in the behind-the-scenes aspects of Hollywood, Rodriguez jumped into a producing role relatively early in her career. She started I Can and I Will Productions while still on "Jane the Virgin," and produced "Someone Great," a movie in which she starred, and which was released shortly before "Jane" met its swan song. Rodriguez's company has also helped produce many of her other subsequent projects including "Diary of a Future President," "Awake," "Carmen Sandiego," and "Not Dead Yet."

Rodriguez is also credited as an executive producer or co-executive producer on 34 episodes of "Jane the Virgin," per IMDb. It is on "Jane" that she also made her directorial debut, according to a Variety article from 2018. All told, Rodriguez directed three episodes of the show — as well as episodes of a number of other shows including "Charmed" and "Doogie Kamealoha, M.D." Though there is nothing listed on her IMDb page yet, Rodriguez has also expressed a desire to direct feature films, much like her "Jane the Virgin" co-star Justin Baldoni has started doing. "I'm ready to do my movie," she told Self in 2018. "Whether that means success or failure, I'm ready to go for it." We are patiently awaiting Rodriguez's directorial film debut — and in the meantime, we can't get enough of her in front of the camera.

She has been in advertisements for multiple brands

When an actor is in high demand for acting projects, chances are that they are also being courted to be the face of at least a couple of big-name brands. For Gina Rodriguez, finding endorsement deals does not seem to be much of an issue — she has had so many that we could not even list them all if we wanted to. One of her first big collaborations was with Kipling as part of their "Make Happy" campaign back in 2015, but it was about so much more than the clothing for Rodriguez. "It's actually not a fashion campaign—I aligned and partnered with this specific movement. A lot of people have been supportive by giving me these high props about it being a fashion campaign, but it's definitely a movement," she told StyleCaster at the time.

Rodriguez participated in a more traditional fashion roll-out when she became the face of Anne Klein for the brand's Fall/Holiday 2022 campaign, but even that one had a tie-in to a scholarship design competition. She signed on for another advertisement-for-good campaign as a model for Clinique's "The Difference Makers" campaign, which was just as much about women making a difference as it was facial cleansers and toners. Rodriguez has also endorsed Belgian beer brand Stella Artois, appearing in a "Host One to Remember" video advert in 2017.

She had to learn to say no to things

As we have established, Gina Rodriguez wears many hats — so many hats, that we are exhausted just writing about her. She is currently the star of a primetime sitcom, yet also has five upcoming acting projects on her slate according to her IMDb (including the live action "Carmen Sandiego" film!). She is also involved in a handful of projects as a producer, on top of her activism work and endorsement deals. Oh, and she's about to have her first baby. Needless to say, Rodriguez is busy, and this is what her slate looks like after learning to say no. She told Glamour that she had to learn to turn things down in order to be able to move to Oregon part-time, which she did during the pandemic.

But Rodriguez has not just learned a work lesson, as she has said she had to condition herself to say no in her personal life as well. In a 2019 interview with Cosmopolitan, the actor admitted that she did not always put herself first in past relationships, and that she sometimes even lost herself along the way. She also said that her now husband (then fiancé) was helping her figure out her priorities. "Like I have a problem saying no, to friends or family or work. I don't know how to put myself first, and he a hundred percent helps me with that," she explained. "It's good to have a buddy that's like, Yo, I thought you were working on that."

She co-founded a socially conscious lingerie brand

Again, we just don't know how she does it, but Gina Rodriguez somehow managed to find the time to help start a socially conscious lingerie brand while starring on her hit series, "Jane the Virgin." Rodriguez co-founded Naja in 2015, alongside Catalina Girald, who serves as the brand's CEO. "We decided that we wanted to work together to empower women and empower Latinas because that's something that's on Gina's radar," Girald told WWD after Rodriguez signed on as an equity holder. It does not surprise us that Rodriguez was into the idea of the brand, since the focus on empowering women and fair workplace policies aligns with her social justice activism.

According to the company's website, Naja employs mostly women — many of them single mothers and female heads of household. They also enact flexible workplace policies and provide children of employees with books, school supplies, uniforms, and school meals. The lingerie itself is eco-friendly and, since Naja has full control of their supply chain, produced ethically. Their "Underwear for Hope" program partners with a foundation in Colombia that trains women to sew at home; each time a bra is purchased, it is provided with a lingerie wash bag made by these women (giving them employment income). We don't know how involved Rodriguez is in the company's day-to-day, but its mission is certainly something she should be proud to be associated with.