Paleyfest 2015: Our Recap Of The Jane The Virgin Panel



 Sunday, March 15th (4:00pm)

Panelists: Gina Rodriguez, Andrea Navedo, Jaime Camil, Ivonne Coll, Brett Dier, Justin Baldoni, Yael Grobglas; Executive Producer: Ben Silverman; Executive Producer & Showrunner: Jennie Urman

After a week of often interesting but occasionally awkward panels, it was nice to end my Paley experience with the giant love-in that was Jane the Virgin. I’ve heard wedding vows that were less effusive than the way this cast talks about each other. There is a place in my notebook where I stopped down exactly what everyone was saying and just put, “GOOD LORD THESE PEOPLE LIKE EACH OTHER.”

Here’s Gina Rodriguez on Yara Martinez: “I’m wowed by Yara Martinez.” Andrea Navedo on Rodriguez: “You get what you give, and what she gives is positivity.” Rodriguez on her co-stars: “Jane is nothing without the cast, and that is hands-down the honest truth.” Justin Baldoni on his co-stars: “This is the most wonderful group of people and the most wonderful experience.” Baldoni on Rodriguez: “When you’re in a scene with Gina, it makes you better.” Jaime Camil on the cast: “We praise each other a lot because we really, really love each other in a genuine way.” Brett Dier on his coworkers: “These people have inspired me to become a better person. You go, ‘How come I’m not as good as them?'”

Everyone hugged and high-fived a lot. Rodriguez cried at least three times. It was phenomenal.

When the panelists weren’t pledging undying allegiance to each other, they spoke a lot about the broader societal themes that Jane the Virgin allows them to tap into — everything from women’s rights to immigration reform. Rodriguez, who was raised in Chicago by her Puerto Rican parents, found a rare on-screen kindred spirit in Jane. “I found an opportunity to really speak about a subject matter and talk about a culture that doesn’t get recognized.” Navedo, who was raised by a single mother, had a similar experience with Xiomara: “The fact that I get to reflect and represent mi gente, so to speak, and that I get to represent the single mothers out there … I’m so proud that I get to be part of that.” And Ivonne Coll: “I am just so happy that I get to represent the thousands of immigrants who come to this country. … We’re part of the country, part of the fabric, part of the nation, and we contribute.”

Jennie Snyder Urman said that the writers put the issue of immigration front and center because it is so incredibly central to the lives of the community they’re about. “Every television show has a point of view,” she said. “Ours is just overt.” Navedo and Rodriguez highlighted the importance of humanizing the faces of political issues. “Education is a means to wipe out ignorance, to wipe out intolerance,” said Rodriguez, and Jane the Virgin is great because, “We get to do it laughing.”

At the end of the panel, an audience member asked Urman how she managed to write such an authentic Latina experience, despite not being Latina. She said that she relies on actors, staff, and writers with that experience, and tries to write human beings who are Latino, without just focusing on their race. “I set out to create very specific characters,” Urman said. “The more specific you get with characters, the less stereotypical you get.”

That was another theme of the panel: the specificity and humanity of all of the show’s characters. “[Urman] gave me such a gift when she let Petra be funny,” Yael Grobglas said. She said that the show’s humor comes from grounded characters reacting to over-the-top situations, and that that holds true for Petra as well: “She’s never what you expect her to be.” Camil, who’s character Rogelio could never be accused of not being funny, praised the fact that he also has heart. “I’m very lucky to be playing an all-around complete character,” he said. Baldoni agreed: “Jennie writes these characters that always have a place to go.”

Rodriguez ended the panel with a call to the Latino community, which she said is seen by the entertainment industry as a single entity, while in reality being very fractured. “They see us as one community. We need to be one community,” Rodriguez said. Women and minorities are starting to use their power to make their voices heard, she said. “Now, Latinos, we can unite and get our viewership. Just like Empire.”

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