Called the Hollywood Reporter’s “Next Big Thing” and named one of the “Top 35 Latinos Under 35,” Gina Rodriguez has been making headlines since she landed the title role in the CW’s Jane the Virgin. Rodriguez has been very open in the past about dealing with her own mental health struggles, and recently got very candid in a sit-down at The Kennedy Forum with Today Show’s Kate Snow.
Why she’s speaking out
Speaking at the mental-health advocacy forum in her hometown of Chicago, Illinois, Rodriguez wants to bring issues of mental health to the forefront, especially for young women. “It was the reason why I took this talk,” Rodriguez said. “It has to be a part of the conversations I have with these young girls. I can’t just tell them to go out and make their dreams come true and then to ignore everything else.”
According to Today, Snow had spoken about her husband’s loss of his father due to suicide, which prompted Rodriguez to discuss her own battle with suicidal thoughts. “I think I started dealing with depression around sixteen. I started dealing with the idea of — that same concept that I think your husband was talking about — (that) everything is going to be better when I’m gone,” Rodriguez told Snow. “Life will be easier; all the woes will be away, all the problems… Then I wouldn’t have to fail or succeed, right? Then all this surmounting pressure would go away. It would just go away.” When asked by Snow if Rodriguez felt she thought her loved ones would be better off if she were no longer around, she candidly replied, “Oh, yeah. I felt that before, not too long ago, and it’s a very real feeling. And I like that you had spoken with your husband about not being afraid to ask somebody if they feel that way, because it’s very … it’s just new territory.”
Rodriguez discussed her battles with anxiety and depression, saying that as recently as a few months ago she was experiencing panic attacks, as reported by Today. She also commented on the courage it requires to take a break when you need it. “There was a point where I couldn’t push through every single time anymore,” Rodriguez said. “It came to a point — this was the first season that… I had to stop production. I just had a really tumultuous season. I was unafraid, for the first time, to be like, ‘I can’t.'”
Trying to set an example
Two years ago, Rodriguez opened up about her struggle with anxiety in a very honest Instagram post, and has since been an advocate for transparency in mental health issues. According to Today, the topic wasn’t discussed within her family when she was growing up.
“I suffer from anxiety. And watching this clip I could see how anxious I was but I empathize with myself. I wanted to protect her and tell her it’s ok to be anxious, there is nothing different or strange about having anxiety and I will prevail,” Rodriguez wrote in the post.
Self reported that Rodriguez also tackles societal pressures of beauty in her honest communication with young women. “Beauty should not be chased but individually embraced. Health belongs to you and looks different for everyone,” she wrote in another Instagram post. “Your journey won’t look like mine and that’s ok because discovering your personal Health goals is a lifelong commitment. In a society where we are bombarded by limited images of what defines beauty and strength I am so grateful for those redefining and expanding those images. I am legit speechless to be a part of that movement.”
New movie, new marriage
In addition to being an advocate for mental health issues, Rodriguez’s Netflix movie Something Great was just released this past April, and she recently married actor Joe Locicero in May. According to USA Today, the two met when he guest-starred on Jane the Virgin in 2016.
Metro reported that Rodriguez has many projects in the works including a Jane the Virgin spinoff, and voicing the character of Velma in the upcoming Scooby Doo remake.