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Gina Rodriguez On Changing The Perception About Latinos In Hollywood

Photograph by Yolanda Machado

When Gina Rodriguez won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV Series in a Musical or Comedy for the surprise hit series 'Jane the Virgin,' she became one of the two sole Latinas to take the award home in the Globes' 72-year history (America Ferrera won for Ugly Betty in 2009). Since then, the Puerto Rican actress has been breaking barriers by continuously speaking out about the portrayal of Latinos in the entertainment industry and working to empower the Latino community. Recently, she has been appointed to the Hispanic Scholarship Fund's Board of Directors to help open doors for Latino kids to follow in her footsteps.

RELATED: 7 Reasons to Watch 'Jane The Virgin'

I recently got a chance to hear first hand how passionate Gina feels about issues Latinos face while on the red carpet for the 'Jane The Virgin' PaleyFest panel in Los Angeles. Read on to see what she said about uniting Latinos and her message for Latino youth.

Q: What do you think Latinos should do to start to change the way Hollywood views our culture and our people?

Gina Rodriguez: To me, and this is something I have been thinking about for a very long time, I would say that we need to get it clear for everyone in this country that is of the Latino descent, the industry views us as a whole, and it's kinda just like this tan, olive-skinned, brown-haired, brown-eyed girl right? But we, as Latinos, understand that we come in all shapes, all sizes, all colors. My sister has green eyes, my father has blue eyes, you know? We look different and we want to know that our differences matter. But, if we do not unite, if we do not say, "there's our brown girl" and scream whether she is light-skinned, or super black Latina, and support her, then we won't see more of us on screen.

RELATED: Which 'Jane The Virgin' Character Are You?

Q: You're such an amazing force both on and off screen. What would you tell the Latino youth of today to empower themselves?

Gina Rodriguez: What I want to say to the Latino youth is that remember that your brothers and your sisters are not just those that are Mexican, or not just those that are Cuban—but that all the Cuban, the Mexican, the Dominican, the Puerto Rican—that we are all considered one, so let's start acting like one. We have so much power! 54 million plus! We open every movie, every weekend—36 percent of the box office is because of Latinos. If we unite and understand that that's where our power lies, we can be the only force to be reckoned with. Because truthfully, we are powerful, and we are passionate, and we are smart, and we are independent, so know that! Support your fellow Latino, support your fellow Spanish-speaker, support your fellow English-speaker that doesn't know Spanish and teach their ass Spanish. Let's all get under that same umbrella that they put us under, and let's rise.

MORE: Hollywood Celebs with Hispanic Pride

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