She’s every inch the Latina bombshell but Hollywood newcomer Génesis Rodríguez is ready to prove that her talent doesn’t just lie in her good looks. As Will Ferrell’s love interest in the new Spanish language film “Casa de mi Padre,” the 24-year-old is diving head first into a role she’s been working towards since she first began auditioning at 16, that of lead actress.
The lead character of Sonia in “Casa de mi Padre” is a breakthrough role for Rodríguez. “It’s an opportunity that I still can’t believe that I received,” says the Miami native. “It’s not often that producers take a risk on an unknown in such a huge film.”
The half-Cuban, half-Venezuelan beauty first caught the acting bug at 14 when she enrolled in a school drama class. “The first day of class was just surreal,” she says, “and by the third day I knew this was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.” While other kids in Miami were headed to the beach or traveling over summer break, the teen studied acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in New York, where the likes of Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and Marilyn Monroe honed their craft. When she wasn’t practicing lines, Rodríguez says, she was building robots.
“I was into all the sciences: anatomy, physics and biology and I know if I hadn’t found acting I would have become a scientist – it just so happened that I was blessed with acting jobs.”
As an actress, Rodríguez says she’s never welcomed fame – being the daughter of famous Venezuelan crooner “El Puma” José Luis Rodríguez, she says, cured her of any dreams for stardom – but acting is an art she’s worked at professionally since her first telenovela role at just 16 years old.
“I worked with Telemundo on contract from 16 to 22, which taught me responsibility and hard work,” recalls the budding star of her years on the sets of some of Miami’s most toe-curling novelas. “I grew up really quickly but working from such a young age taught me that goals are worth working towards.”
Since then, the bilingual actress has appeared on the daytime soap “Days of Our Lives,” episodes of ”Entourage” and even landed a supporting role in this year’s action thriller “Man on a Ledge.” But none of that prepared her for an audition with the hilariously comedic Will Ferrell.
“I didn’t expect Will to be in the room and as I was reading for the part he was laughing so hard,” recalls Rodríguez. “I didn’t know if he was laughing because I was so bad! When I walked out I thought I had messed up and a week later I got a call with an offer for the part.”
The role of Sonia – a feisty Mexicana who decides to follow her heart and leave her drug cartel fiancé (played by Diego Luna) for his ranchero brother (Will Ferrell’s character) is the part of a lifetime for Rodriguez, who brings a female sensibility to the film with its cast of heavyweights which includes Gael Garcia Bernal.
“This is the ultimate Will Ferrell movie and is definitely the most epic, risky and controversial of them all with the way it breaks down stereotypes,” says Rodríguez, who swears that yes, that’s really Ferrell speaking flawless Spanish throughout the film.
“It’s incredible that Will took on the challenge of speaking Spanish,” remarks Rodríguez, who admitted to helping out the “Saturday Night Live” alumnus on his grammar. “It says something about the way that he wants to help Latinos move in the right direction and earn a stronger voice in the box office.”
The film is just the first in what Rodríguez hopes is a long career filled with strong, memorable roles. But for now, she says, that she’s proud of her work in “Casa de mi Padre.”
“This is a one of a kind movie, one for the books,” ends the actress. “This is a comedy that is breaking stereotypes and making them entertainment in a way that will knock down the barriers that most Latinos face.”