Andrea Navedo on Her Current Projects and How Jane the Virgin Changed the Game for Latinx Representation
The actress talks about her role in FX's new show Mrs. America and shares how she got started in the entertainment industry.
Though Jane the Virgin ended for good last year, Andrea Navedo’s portrayal of Xiomara, Jane’s mother, remains unforgettable. “I love that she was almost the stereotypical sexy Latina that you see in media, but that was sort of a trick because then you open the hood and look underneath, and you see there is a real human being here with flaws, with insecurities, with wishes and wants, and she is also a kick-ass, dedicated mother and she’s going for some impossible dream in entertainment,” she tells People CHICA. “On top of that, being a single mom, so many people can relate to that. I was raised by a single mom and I love that I was given the opportunity to break the mold of how Latinas are perceived.”
Jane the Virgin‘s final fifth season is now streaming on Netflix, and the popular show advanced Latinx representation and left its mark. “I loved that it was not necessarily a Latino show but it was with a Latino family, a family that was started by immigrants coming to this country, showing the hard work and dedication and perseverance we contribute as human beings and citizens of the United States,” the Nuyorican actress says. “The love that they have for each other and the closeness, the bond — that was very important to me.”
Did Jane the Virgin open the door for more Latinx content? “I think so,” says Navedo. “This pilot season I’m auditioning for roles that are not necessarily Latina, they are just women, and that would not have happened before Jane as much. It was not really happening. You were mostly getting seen for roles written for a Latina character. I’m really grateful for that. I think Jane has a lot to do with moving that perception forward and in a more positive light, and moving the agenda of diversity and inclusion.”
She has a recurring role on FX’s upcoming series Mrs. America, starring starring Cate Blanchett and Rose Byrne. “It’s a period piece that takes place in the 1970s, based on real-life events and real-life people,” says Navedo, who plays Puerto Rican activist Carmen Delgado. “She is very educated and intelligent. She was a civil rights leader in Washington, D.C. and was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to fight for women’s rights and Latina rights. I had no idea she existed, which is so frustrating to me because when I was growing up at that time in the ’70s, there weren’t a lot of female role models I could see on television or media, and here was this Puerto Rican woman fighting for my rights and I had no idea she existed.”
As a little girl, Navedo wanted to be an actress or model because “they seemed to have these incredible lives and my immediate surroundings weren’t so great.” It wasn’t until she got to college that she decided to audition for a play, and when she got the role, she became a theater major. “I always knew, I got this tingling feeling in my stomach. Acting was a safe place to express your emotions,” she recalls. “Every step of the way in my decision-making there has been some positive feedback that I have seen as confirmation to keep going. Even if I went to an audition and got a callback but didn’t get the part, I viewed the callback as encouragement that I was doing something right and I should keep going.”
She also uses her personal platforms to empower others, sharing a message of self-love and acceptance. “With my social media I try to share an honest perspective about myself and my own vulnerabilities,” she says. “Hopefully some positive things come across and it’s not superficial, because there are a lot of young Latinas following me and I want to inspire them and motivate them to go for their dreams.” She says there is still a long way to go for equality. “We are still making less money than men, having less opportunities than men, we are still fighting for our reproductive rights. There is a lot of room to make your voice heard and fight.”