Small screen star Gina Rodriguez hasn’t been shy about standing up to online bullies and now she’s taking it a step further with her involvement in a new campaign to encourage others to do so, too.
“Dealing with online bullying, or bullying in general personally has only empowered me to use my voice even more, especially for those who haven’t gained the tools to speak up for themselves,” says Rodriguez, who is part of CustomInk’s 5th annual Be Good to Each Other Campaign in support of National Bullying Prevention Month. “If you can get the opportunity to share your voice, why not do it for good?”
The Jane the Virgin star — who was slammed with negative comments this summer after she posted a picture of her People en Español cover on Instagram with a caption partly written in Spanish – adds that her experience has only strengthened her passion for being an outspoken activist against bullying.
“I definitely haven’t gone untouched. I’ve been touched by those who want to divide or separate me from the rest, [who might say] I’m not Latino enough or my toes are weird,” says Rodriguez, who designed a CustomInk anti-bullying T-shirt as part of her partnership with the brand. “And for the record, my toes are weird and I’m not ashamed of it. So for me to speak up about bullying and have real conversations and to partner up with an organization to create awareness is an awesome blessing.”
Rodriguez, 31, joins celebrities like Olivia Wilde, Demi Lovato, and Katy Perry in speaking out and spreading awareness about the dangers of online bullying. Earlier this week, Rodriguez directly confronted a Twitter user who accused her of using her “Latino heritage as marketing” — with incidents like those, does she ever think about letting someone else manage her Twitter accounts, much like Girls star Lena Dunham recently announced?
“I know Lena very well, and I love her spirit and her confidence and her vulnerability to put herself out there in a very aggressive, all-accepting way,” notes Rodriguez. “But I don’t know at what point, because I haven’t experienced that, I would call for backup or resources. For me, what I think has worked and what I’ve found very empowering is to speak to the people who want to speak poorly to me, to let them know I’m a human being and that I too, have to conquer my own pain, insecurities, and obstacles.”
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It’s a topic that has even played a part in some of Jane the Virgin’s more serious story lines. Fans will remember that Jane was bullied back during her high school days, a plot point which Rodriguez says will be revisited throughout the upcoming season.
“You’ll see how Jane deals with people who have an opinion about how she should live her life and how she doesn’t allow them to shake her foundation,” shares Rodriguez. “And I think holding on to those beliefs and convictions is a positive thing to put into the world right now.”
So is it safe to say that Jane’s determined to stay a virgin? Rodriguez is staying tight-lipped about any romantic drama, but teases that that there will be wedding bells for her character in season 2.
“I was told she does get married this season, but as far as I know, Jane is very much still a virgin and is saving herself for that moment she’s always dreamed of,” Rodriguez says. “I don’t know when she’ll lose her virginity.”
And don’t expect the breakout star to spill about any possible developments in the Team Michael vs. Team Rafael debate.
“The love triangle has definitely continued, but Jane’s ability to put Mateo first is very prominent this season,” she says.
So where does Rodriguez stand when it comes to picking a side? “I have no idea who I want her to pick! Before, I’d read the script, and I’d be like ‘Oh shoot, come on Jane, be with so-and-so,’ ” Rodriguez says. “But now I see the beautiful journey Jennie [Snyder Urman] is creating, where Jane is allowing herself space and time. I have so much respect for her decision. She’s waiting for the best, and deserves the best.”
Jane the Virgin returns to the CW on Oct. 12 at 9 p.m ET.