Someone Great star Gina Rodriguez: I remember praying that one day I would be an actress
New Netflix romantic comedy Someone Great follows a music journalist who, broken-hearted and about to move across the country, recruits her two best friends for a fun-filled night in New York City. Lead star Gina Rodriguez opens up to Georgia Humphreys about break-ups and having women behind the camera
If you're in need of a feel-good watch, get on Netflix and load up Someone Great. Written and directed by Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, the film follows music journalist Jenny, played by Gina Rodriguez, the lead star of US hit TV series Jane The Virgin.
Jenny may have been dumped by her boyfriend of nine years because he can't face a long-distance relationship, but she has her two best gal pals, Erin (DeWanda Wise) and Blair (Brittany Snow), for one last outrageous adventure in New York City, before she moves to San Francisco.
Chicago-born Rodriguez (34) knows first-hand that the end of a relationship can actually be surprisingly life-affirming.
"My worst break-up caused me to take a moment to find my self-worth and it was the greatest thing that ever happened to me," says the actress, now engaged to fellow actor (and Someone Great co-star) Joe LoCicero.
"When I realised that I was living too much for the approval of men, or the approval of others, and not for the approval of myself, then I went on a beautiful journey to discover what makes me truly happy. What makes me feel full. What makes me feel cared for and what I desired in a partner. Now I know. So thank you for breaking up with me - you know who you are."
Rodriguez, who has started her own company called I Can & I Will Productions, also worked as one of the producers of Someone Great.
It feels like a refreshing, modern take on the rom-com genre - Kaytin Robinson's vision was to show a woman who becomes her own hero.
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Notably, there's not a promise of another romantic relationship right around the corner. Instead, it's a story about friendship - fitting for Rodriguez, seeing as she has known co-star Wise since they were studying drama at New York University as teenagers.
"It is a buddy movie and I happened to be very close buddies with one of my co-stars," the Latina star enthuses.
"To actually be able to perform with her, that's been quite the joy. And Brittany has been such a lucky surprise.
"We all come from very different backgrounds, but our chemistry has been beautiful. I have those two girls forever and I sure as hell am going to make sure that I keep them."
Not only is this a feature with female protagonists, but there were also 74 women in the crew.
How pivotal does Rodriguez think it is to have so many women working behind the scenes?
"It's extremely important," she responds passionately.
"We vocalise how important it is in front of the screen and we don't do enough vocalising of the necessity behind the screen, because that is where the project gets made, and seeing that reflection is huge.
"Most of it is male-dominated in television and film, so when you're in front of the camera and you look out and see so many women, it gives you not only a sense of pride, but a sense of safety."
She adds that having a female gaze especially helps when it comes to shooting intimate scenes.
"You'd be so surprised how different it is to have someone come up to you and be like, 'Close your legs a little bit'. Now I'm directing, I have an eye to it and I'm immediately like, 'Hey girl, close your legs a little, baby, because you're going to like it better, I promise'.
"I don't have men telling me that because they're not looking at that, which is fine - but not fine for me when I look at it and I'm like, 'I should've closed my legs, I should've straightened my back'. We catch things that, as females, we're looking at and we're caring about."
Even though Rodriguez has been in the industry for over a decade, sex scenes are "new to me" she notes.
"Television sex scenes on Jane The Virgin are very, very different, they're very modest and very sweet and you can show like, a knee," she adds.
"But to have a female gaze on those experiences... I knew I was going to be protected in a way that is different. It is different - it just is. It's no better or worse, but for females, it's better. I got a safety I've never experienced."
Arguably, the most taxing scenes for Rodriguez were those in which we see Jenny facing the pain she feels over her ex-love.
"It's not normal for somebody to cry for nine hours and that's essentially what I had to do as an actress to live in both his coverage, my coverage and the wide shot," recalls Rodriguez.
"You're like, 'Somebody give me a nap, let me get an ice pack, and I'm definitely going to need an Advil (painkiller)'. So it was a challenge to keep that pain alive and not go utterly insane."
It's seven years since Rodriguez, who won a Golden Globe in 2015 for Jane The Virgin, had her breakout performance, as the titular character in Filly Brown, during the Sundance Film Festival.
Shooting Someone Great, with the exciting cinematic backdrop of the buzzing streets of New York, made her reflect on how grateful she is for her career so far.
"I remember sitting in Washington Square Park praying that one day I would be an actress," she says.
"To sit there now, with so many people gathering and watching us perform, was the ultimate full circle moment. On that set, I was thanking God just every minute."
Someone Great is available to watch on Netflix now