If you ever had doubts that a Latina can deliver street savvy rhymes with the best of them while carrying herself with integrity and style, push them aside. “Filly Brown” defies, shreds and deconstructs stereotypes and long last, the film is coming home to New York City as it kicks off the 13th Annual New York International Film Festival with its touching story that pays homage to urban slam poetry, art and the very core of Latino identity – family.
“We’re finally bringing this film to the city that specifically speaks to its changing norms,” exclaims title star Gina Rodriguez, 27. After all, for Rodriguez – a second generation, college-educated Puerto Rican –“Filly Brown” represents a refreshing portrayal of Latinas than is usually not offered on the silver screen.
“My character in the film isn’t someone who flaunts her sexuality or plays up to stereotypes,” says Rodriguez. “She someone like me – someone who speaks English better than she does Spanish, who identifies with the values she grew up with and who wants to stay true to herself while chasing impossible dreams.”
For Rodriguez, the independent film – her very first major acting role – has given her mainstream acclaim. After a successful debut at 2012 Sundance Film Festival, Rodriguez was crowned the festival’s “It” girl – a title she says, she can hardly believe.
“That title is freaking awesome,” says an animated Rodriguez. “There are so many talented girls in the industry that I respect, and to have been given the honor is truly special. But I do think it’s time that a Latina – a little brown girl – can be recognized in that way.”
But Rodriguez is so much more than she gives herself credit for. A graduate of New York University, where the budding starlet studied theater, Rodriguez is also a talented vocalist and musician. That translates to a busy schedule for the single actress (“I’m focusing on myself right now, working on being the best friend, sister and fellow artist I can be,” she says) who currently is working on another indie film while writing music for an upcoming album.
“I want to be known for chasing my dreams with my morals intact,” explains Rodriguez. “There will always be someone sexier, prettier and funnier, but I want to defy stereotypes. You don’t have to be a cookie-cutter Latina to be successful.”
And there’s little doubt that this “It” girl will be anything other than wildly successful. After all, she has a talent development deal with ABC (“We haven’t found a TV show for me to do yet, but I know I want to play a character that’s super fierce and independent,” Rodriguez says), owns her very own production company (which she hopes to use as a launch pad for more mainstream projects) and has big plans to showcase her voice.
But with so much going on, does she ever feel distracted? Never, confesses the Chicago native.
“I’m doing it all with purpose,” discloses Rodriguez.
“I have a real responsibility to all the little girls out there to be the story-teller I was born to be. And that’s a very, very special role that I won’t ever take lightly.”