Some people can’t handle the hustle. Gina Rodriguez isn’t one of them. The Chicago-born, L.A.-based actor knows what she wants—most notably, furthering the impact of Latinas in the entertainment industry—and isn’t afraid to fight for it (like, literally: Rodriguez learned how to box from her father, veteran ref Genaro Rodriguez).
More than 12 years of coast-to-coast hustling culminated in the plum role of Jane on the CW’s critically acclaimed telenovela-style satire, Jane the Virgin, which earned her a Golden Globe 2015. But it’s her turn in the thriller Annihilation (February 23) that taps into her inner baller (“I’m a little more hood than Jane is,” the 33-year-old says with a laugh). The sci-fi film follows an all-female team of various “-ists”—Rodriguez stars as the Anthropologist alongside Natalie Portman’s Biologist—as they explore an other-worldly terrain known as “the shimmer.” Next year Rodriguez will change tracks to voice super-thief Carmen Sandiego in a Netflix reboot of the computer game franchise. In short, the hustle is everything she hoped it’d be.
You could say the same about our Q&A, which had Rodriguez contemplating her rapper alter ego and Selena.
Non-network-approved name for your telenovela?
The Lion’s Den. Women run the Earth, and only one man has survived. But the women are lesbians, so the world ends. It’s a miniseries. The show doesn’t last long because neither does the world.
So it’s basically the Beyonce video for “Who Run the World (Girls)”?
Chicago-style deep dish pizza or L.A.-style tacos?
Chicago-style deep dish. Not even a question. Because it has to be Tijuana-style tacos. Those are the only comparison. They’re the best tacos I’ve ever had, and now I’m tainted for life. The best tacos in all of the land. L.A. doesn’t do tacos like Tijuana does. They have my mouth watering right now.
Where in L.A. is Carmen Sandiego?
The Butcher’s Daughter. One, it has the best vegan/vegetarian food in all of L.A., and she happens to be a vegan. And two, she would shop on Abbot Kinney to get her fly red threads. She’s a Venice girl, for sure. She’s real smooth.
Song that would play in the background during a musical montage of your life?
“Livin’ La Vida Loca” by Ricky Martin. That’s the song that’s playing when I walk down the street.
Three Angelenos you’d have in your entourage at a title fight?
Ronda Rousey, Triple G, and Peter Berg—he’d be the one who puts ice on my neck and Vaseline on my face.
Forget the bromance. Who’s your dream sismance?
Tessa Thompson. We fell in love on Annihilation, and we’re still in love.
You rap. If you went pro, what would your stage name be?
Olive Oil. I’d be sliding into places where you can’t even see me. And I’d just talk about being the flyest nerd in the biz. Always on the countertop. Greasy for days. The better alternative to butter. I’d talk about how I’m better than other rappers because I’m super slick. These are random questions, I like them.
In a rap battle between Olive Oil and your pal/fellow Puerto Rican Lin-Manuel Miranda, who’d win?
Lin, because I’d ask him to write my raps for me. I bow down to Lin happily. Even if he didn’t win, I’d let him win. That’s how much I love him. I’d be like, “Nah, nah, give it to Lin, give it to Lin! Lin for the win!”
Which lady badass could join the Annihilation crew: Alien’s Ripley, Arrival’s Louise Banks, or Terminator’s Sarah Connor?
Sarah Connor for sure. She is a tough chick who’s gone through a whole bunch of shit and knows how to throw down. She runs before she asks questions. You need someone who will run first and then ask questions when you get there. You know when someone goes, “Run!” And people say, “Why?” You do not say why. You run and then you say why when you get there. Sarah Connor will ask why after you already ran. That’s a chick that has to be in our crew.
Pick a hype-woman: Selena or Selena Gomez?
Selena, even though I’m not into ghosts and I love Selena Gomez. But OG Selena is everyone’s hero. I’ve been “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom”-ing through my whole life.
I Washing Machine-d my way through middle school.
You did?! We’re soulmates.
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