The actress was close to tears as she spoke about being called anti-black.
Jane the Virgin actress Gina Rodriguez has addressed criticism that she is anti-black in an emotional interview with a radio station.
Discussions about inclusivity, particularly around women and ethnic minorities, in Hollywood have ramped up over the past few years, and have prompted actresses like Frances McDormand and Brie Larson to call for inclusion riders on forthcoming films and press tours.
Rodriguez, who plays the title character in Jane the Virgin, is well known for speaking up about feminism, but she has been called out a number of times in the past few years for comments that have been perceived as anti-black.
When Marvel announced in 2017 it was making Black Panther, Rodriguez tweeted: “Marvel and DC are killing it in inclusion and women but where are the Latinos?! Asking for a friend…”
Many thought she was taking away from a moment celebrating black people, while also ignoring Afro-Latinx actors like Zoe Saldana and Tessa Thompson, who have starred in Marvel films.
During a 2018 press interview with Yara Shahidi, when Shahidi was asked about being a role model for black women, Rodriguez interjected and said: “So many women.”
And during a discussion last year for Porter with fellow actresses Gabrielle Union, Ellen Pompeo and Emma Roberts, Rodriguez said Latina women were paid the lowest wages: “White women get paid more than black women, and black women get paid more than Asian women, Asian women get paid more than Latina women, and it’s like a very scary space to step into.”
Although this is true for the general wage gap, it is not true for Hollywood, which people were quick to point out.
In an interview with radio show Sway in the Morning, to promote her new film Miss Bala, Rodriguez has finally addressed the comments, saying that she was talking about the wider pay gap in the Porter interview.
“I wasn’t speaking about my industry,” she said. “I always find it difficult to talk about equal pay as a woman who makes a substantial amount of money… What I was saying was that when we talk about equal pay, we have to talk about intersectionality, because we all must rise.”
Rodriguez said the “black community was the only community that I looked towards growing up” because “we didn’t have many Latino shows, and the black community made me feel like I was seen”. She said the response to the Porter interview was “devastating”.
Becoming emotional, she added: “So to get anti-black is saying that I’m anti-family. My father is dark-skinned, he’s Afro-Latino… If anything, the black community is my community. As Latinos, we have black Latinos. That is what we are. I am not, so I think that when I speak about Latino advocacy people believe I only mean people of my skin colour.
“If I have hurt you, I am sorry and I will always be sorry, but you have to know that, until you know my heart, there’s no way that we can live off clickbait, you guys,” Rodriguez continued. “You are allowed to feel pain and I empathise with your pain, and I’m sorry if I caused your pain because it is the last thing I want to do… We don’t need to fight each other and if I caused that notion, please forgive me because that is not my intent at all.”
The response has left some unsatisfied, saying Rodriguez should have acknowledged her past statements were anti-black and harmful, and promised to do better.
Others have applauded Rodriguez for answering the criticism, and for apologising.
Wherever you stand, it’s clear discussions about race in Hollywood and beyond need to continue.