Gina Rodriguez

Chicago actress Gina Rodriguez's starring turn in the indie music drama "Filly Brown" (2012) elevated her from relative obscurity to an up-and-coming Latina talent, a status solidified by her debut as a television lead in the popular comedy "Jane the Virgin" (The CW, 2014- ). Born July 30, 1984 in Chicago, Illinois, Rodriguez was the youngest of three sisters raised in a Puerto Rican household by her father, boxing referee Genaro Rodriguez, and mother. She made her stage debut at the age of seven as part of the salsa dance company Fantasia Juvenil, and continued to dance into her teenaged years. During this period, Rodriguez also developed an interest in acting, and at the age of 16, was one of a handful of teenagers accepted into Columbia University's Theatrical Collaboration program. From there, Rodriguez attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and trained with several theater companies, including the Experimental Theatre Wing. Her professional career began shortly graduation, with guest roles on television series like "Law & Order" (NBC, 1990-2010) and the title role in "Casa Blue: The Last Moments in the Life of Frida Kahlo" for the American Stage Theater. She made her feature film debut in the comedy "Our Family Wedding" (2010), with America Ferrara, and worked steadily in episodic television, independent features and short films before landing a recurring role on the daytime drama "The Bold and the Beautiful" (CBS, 1987- ) from 2011 to 2012. However, Rodriguez's true breakout role came at the end of her run on the soap opera when she was cast as the lead in the independent drama "Filly Brown" (2012), about a young rap artist navigating the treacherous waters of the music business. Nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, the picture gave Rodriguez the widest exposure of her career, and led to more prominent guest shots on episodic series like "Longmire" (A&E, 2012- ). In 2014, Rodriguez shot to stardom as the lead in "Jane the Virgin," a sitcom based on the Venezuelan telenovela "Juana la virgen" (RCTV, 2002) about a young woman whose life is turned upside down when she is mistakenly impregnated by artificial insemination. The series earned near-unanimous acclaim from critics upon its first airing, and minted Rodriguez as a bona fide star of the new television season.