Entertainment

‘Jane The Virgin’ Actress Opens Up About How Anxiety Kept Her From Showing Up To Set

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Even though depression, anxiety, and mental health are becoming more publicly discussed, there is a stigma attached to it. It’s still seen as a weakness instead of a disease. Mental wellness is not regarded in the same way physical wellness is. It isn’t discussed at home or at schools — making the important topic all but taboo. That’s why it is so important that we talk publicly about our struggles with mental health.

It’s with that in mind that “Jane the Virgin” star Gina Rodriguez opened up about her own experiences.

Rodriguez has been open about her personal experience with her mental health in the past.

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In 2017, in fact, she posted about her journey with anxiety in a very candid Instagram post.

She has now opened up even further in an emotional sitdown with NBC’s Kate Snow during the recent Kennedy Forum.

The actress explained:

“I think I started dealing with depression around sixteen. I started dealing with the idea of…everything is going to be better when I’m gone. 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.”

The pressure Rodriguez refers to includes the difficult time she had while filming the final season of “Jane the Virgin.”

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According to the star, she began suffering from panic-induced, debilitating anxiety attacks while on set.

“There was a point where I couldn’t, I couldn’t push through every single time anymore,” Rodriguez shared with Snow. “And I’m one of those human beings…I’m just like, ‘I’ll handle it later. I’ll deal with it later. I’ll figure it out later. I just have to do this now.’ All the while dealing with this, you know, your silent little dragon in your head.”

Rodriguez went on to explain that this struggle caused her to stop production on the series for the first time ever.

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“I had a really tumultuous season, she confessed. “I was unafraid for the first time to be like, ‘I can’t.'”

That courage motivated Rodriguez to get the help she needed and to take the time to prioritize herself. It’s a milestone that anyone who fights against their mental illness would recognize. We can only imagine the pressure Rodriguez faced in the midst of a busy production schedule.

Her ability to speak openly about mental health is motivated by the girls and women who look up to her.

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“I can’t just tell them to go out and make their dreams come true and then to ignore everything else,” Rodriguez explained.

The actress has long been a mentor in the fields of art, body positivity, immigration rights, and feminism. In 2016, Rodriguez launched the We Will Foundation to promote young artists through education and scholarships. In 2018, she worked with P&G to start the Always Campaign to benefit Feeding America.

This candid conversation is another example of her commitment to being the sort of mentor the world needs most.

Poor mental health is often a side effect of other illnesses; which is the case with Rodriguez.

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Anxiety and depression are complications of her Hashimoto’s Disease. Rodriguez shared in a 2017 SELF interview that the medicine she takes for her thyroid causes heart palpitations. This disrupted rhythm sometimes triggers panic attacks.

The illness has forced the actress to reassess herself and become more self-aware. After adjusting her medication, she noticed improvements.

Still, Rodriguez had to face the bigger issue of her underlined mental health. That self-awareness has helped her and hopefully, her experience can help others struggling with the same issues.

13 Reasons Why Latinos Will Miss Seeing Their Stories In ‘Jane The Virgin’

Entertainment

13 Reasons Why Latinos Will Miss Seeing Their Stories In ‘Jane The Virgin’

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WARNING, SOME VERY CHIQUITO SPOILERS AHEAD! 

The end of one of our favorite shows, Jane the Virgin, is near. For almost five years (it was first aired in 2014) we have followed the adventures of Jane Gloriana Villanueva, our heroine who was wrongly inseminated. Jane’s journey was also related to her career as a writer, a vocation that she tries to follow even though life sometimes gets in the way. The narrative accomplishes something almost impossible to pull off: it makes outrageous telenovela situations feel close to us. The 100th and last ever episode will be aired on July 31st, and fans are getting their tissue box ready for what promises to be a tearful finale. Because we don’t like goodbyes we will start our farewell now. These are some of the reasons why we consider Jane the Virgin to be a watershed moment in the history of Latino representation in mainstream television, and why we will miss Jane, her lovers, her family, and her amazingly quirky son. A llorar se ha dicho

1. Jane the Virgin was finally a show that represented the many complexities of Latino communities in the U.S.: it made us laugh and cry in equal measures.

Credit: cwjanethevirgin / Instagram

There have been some shows about Latinos in the United States, and titles such as Netflix’s Mr. Iglesias seem to be gaining more traction. However, Jane the Virgin could break into the mainstream, escaping the niche denominator of “Latino”. It was wonderful to see the very specific Florida Latinidad represented on the screen. 

2. The show discussed the uncomfortable issue of migration and the perilous path to citizenship. Te queremos, Alba!

Credit: cwjanethevirgin / Instagram

The show touched in one of the main issues that define the Latino experience in the United States: migration. Alba’s citizenship journey was equally stressful and hard to watch, and we are sure it resonated with millions of Latino families in how vulnerable migrants can be before attaining citizenship. A call to action that was also told in a tender, extremely human way. 

3. Jane proudly wore her Latina identity, in her life and literary work.

Credit: cwjanethevirgin / Instagram

Instead of trying to “fit in” with Anglo culture to blend, Jane Gloriana Villanueva embraces and celebrates her Latina identity. From her clothes to her cultural references (Chilean novelist Isabel Allende makes a cameo!) and her literary work, she tries to uncover what Latina identity means today in matters of love, family, sex and professional life. 

4. It showed us that true friendship with your exes and your exes’ exes is possible (you know this is a telenovela, right?)

Credit: cwjanethevirgin / Instagram

Well, maybe this is not that in tune with reality, pero se vale soñar. We love how Petra, Jane, and Rafael find a way to co-parent three cheeky monkeys. 

5. It gave us a strong, independent, queer woman.

Credit: cwjanethevirgin / Instagram

Petra is perhaps the character that developed the most. She went from being a terrible telenovela villana to being a member of the Villanueva clan. Her backstory is fascinating and through the seasons she found a way to discover herself: she is a survivor, and the ultimate way to survive is accepting who she is a powerful queer businesswoman, and a loving mother who allows herself to be vulnerable and ask for help. 

6. It serves us some old-world Latino charm.

Credit: cwjanethevirgin / Instagram

When Jane imagines her romantic epics, and also when Alba tells her life story, we get to see some of the old world Latino charms that have made the romantic narrative a staple of the region. This is also a way to deal with 

7. It provided us with one of the most truthful representations of the joys, frustrations, and awesomeness of parenthood.

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Right from her pregnancy, Jane embodied the shock and delights of motherhood. The show does not give us a vanilla version of how pregnancy sorta wrecks the female body and how hard it is to raise a child. Mateo is Jane’s world, and it is amazing to witness Jane embrace her power, but also her cluelessness as to how to be a mother. Nadie nace sabiendo

8. Four words: Rogelio De La Vega.

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Mexican actor Jaime Camil, a former telenovela heartthrob, found his ideal character in Rogelio De La Vega. He is funny and charming, vulnerable and the best father ever. We would totally watch a spin-off featuring only him! 

9. The genuine chemistry and friendship shared by the cast.

Credit: janethevirginlove / Instagram

Gina Rodriguez and Jaime Camil really do look like father and daughter in this photo. Judging by interviews and their social media accounts (including photos of Gina’s recent wedding), cast members have formed a true family offscreen, which translates into the amazing chemistry we see in the show. 

10. The show is a true picture of the multicultural United States.

Credit: janethevirginlove / Instagram

Yes, the cast is primarily Latino or plays Latino characters (even the blonde Michael has a Latino last name: Cordero), but the show has Eastern European, Anglo, Black and even Indian characters. Rather than being insular and only focus on Latinos, it is a mosaic of the cultural diversity of Florida, where the narrative takes place. 

11. Primero la familia: a message that resonated with Latino audiences worldwide.

Credit: janethevirginlove / Instagram

Through the show, we are witness to the perpetuation of family rituals. The Villanuevas have dinner together, come rain or come shine, and they spend time together even if they are upset at each other. Later in the show, Petra and Jane find a way to create new traditions for Mateo and the twins, unlikely half-siblings who are growing up together. 

12. Simply put, Jane the Virgin is funny as hell.

Credit: janethevirginlove / Instagram

Jane the Virgin is a cleverly written comedy that blends huge amounts of drama, very tender and human moments, and gags that are anything but cheap. Every joke or unusual situation in the show reveals something about the characters rather than looking for cheap laughs. For example, when Jane’s life spins out of control she usually becomes very clumsy: the physical comedy reveals characters’ inner state. We can also think of Rogelio’s hilarious gift baskets! (we wouldn’t mind getting one by the way). Or how Petra’s twins often make reference to the creepy duo from the horror film The Shining.

13. But above all, the show gives full agency to female characters, something rare in any TV show.

Credit: cwjanethevirgin / Instagram

In today’s media industry, it is extremely rare for a female-led television show or film to be approved, even more so if the character is a Latina played by a relatively unknown actress. Jane the Virgin was a rarity and a novelty: a sitcom that got pretty dark at times, which offered dialogue in Spanish and was unashamedly influenced by telenovelas. The Villanueva queens and Petra drove the narrative, un matriarcado televisivo like no other. Jane did not make her decisions solely based on what her romantic counterparts demanded: she was in control of her feelings, her sexuality and her experience as a mother. We will miss you, Jane hermosa.

READ: ‘Jane The Virgin’ Actress Opens Up About How Anxiety Kept Her From Showing Up To Set

A Father And Daughter Were Separated By U.S. Immigration Only To Reunite On Her Deathbed

Things That Matter

A Father And Daughter Were Separated By U.S. Immigration Only To Reunite On Her Deathbed

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It is with unrelenting sadness that we report the death of Heydi Gámez García, 13, who took her life after her father’s asylum request was denied for the third time. Heydi’s father, Manuel Gámez, sent her to the U.S. after his father was gunned down by MS-13 for refusing to pay a “war tax” to the gang. He didn’t expect that Heydi would be granted asylum, but that he would be deported.

Manuel certainly didn’t envision that his goodbye hug and kiss four years ago would be the last time he would hug and kiss his daughter while she was still alive.

The Gámaz family was broken by MS-13 and failed again by the U.S. immigration system.

Credit: @amy_baker22 / Twitter

Heydi’s mother walked out on her and her dad when she was less than two months old. By the time Heydi was a year old, Manuel left for New York as an undocumented immigrant to make money to send back home. After his father was killed by MS-13, and his mother’s health started failing, he worried about who would care for Heydi and his younger sister, Zoila.

Manuel’s sister was granted asylum and cared for Heydi in his absence in New York.

Credit: @holliewolfen / Twitter

A year after his father’s death, he sent Heydi, Zoila and his brother to the U.S. Heydi and Zoila were granted asylum. Heydi learned English within a year and started teaching her father, via phone calls, how to correctly pronounce English words. They spoke every day, always asking when he’d come.

After two failed attempts to gain asylum, Heydi lost hope for being reunited and started cutting herself.

Credit: @holliewolfen / Twitter

He never wanted to make promises he couldn’t keep, like being there for her quinceañera. Heydi watched her classmates complain about their parents’ visiting their school and fell into a depression. In December, she was brought to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation after cutting her wrist at school. She was seeing a therapist until two months before her suicide.

“Please forgive me for failing you,” Manuel wants to tell his daughter.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t be there… I never meant to leave you,” he says to her. Heydi was Manuel’s only child. Heydi’s aunt is coping with impossible guilt. She told CNN, “I was supposed to be protecting her. I would never send her to Honduras. But I never thought something bad would happen to her here.”

Manuel was released on a two week ‘humanitarian’ visit to release Heydi from life support.

Credit: @holliewolfen / Twitter

He finally got to hold her hand and comfort her as she left this life behind. “We love you,” he whispered to her. “Don’t leave us.”

The last thing Heydi told anyone was that she lost hope in being reunited with her father.

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She was crying as she told her aunt that she feels hopeless and that one day, she’ll become a lawyer to help her dad’s case. She then said she wanted to be alone and was found two hours later in a closet. She didn’t leave a note.

She was declared brain dead a week later at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in Queens.

Dr. Charles Schleien told CNN that she was in a “neurologically devastated state” upon arrival with “no hope for recovery.” He went on to disclose that the Gámaz family “chose to turn tragedy into the gift of life. Heydi is an organ donor and her final act will be to save others.”

The mental health impacts of family separation at our borders can only be told one story at a time.

Credit: @apbenven / Twitter

It is the only empathic way to relate to the emotional scars of our community. Every story is important. Every life lost to policies that don’t incorporate the most visceral human desires, like growing up with your father by your side, is one life too many. 

What on earth are we doing?

Credit: @JoeGould50 / Twitter

How can anyone go about business as usual? How do we humanize brown-skinned people to every voter and decision-maker? The only way we know how is to continually voice your concerns to your representatives and create space for these stories. Don’t look away. The grief of the Gámaz family is all of our grief. 

A Manuel, you did not fail your daughter. We all did. We are so sorry.

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