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Gina Rodriguez Champions for Inclusivity, Diversity at CW Upfront: TV Has ‘Super Power to Heal’

Gina Rodriguez wooed advertisers on Thursday morning at The CW’s Upfront with an atypical strategy — by speaking from the heart.

The “Jane the Virgin” star, who’s become known for utilizing her platform to spread messages of inclusivity, took advantage of The CW stage to get “real.”

Speaking at the New York City advertising event that typically shies away from deep conversation, and focuses on programming and sales data, Rodriguez greeted the audience of ad-buyers with this opening: “I’m going to pose a crazy thought, let’s take a moment to get real — I mean, like, really real. Let’s put the presentation on pause and open our hearts. I am an artist, and I see the world through that lens.”

Rodriguez — who was introduced as one of the two Golden Globe winners at The CW, alongside Rachel Bloom, who performed with her “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” cast at the Upfront — then spoke about the power of television to unify audiences, shedding a light on the current state of politics and divisiveness in the country.

“What I find so beautiful and magical about art is it’s super power is to heal,” Rodriguez said. “It tears down misconceptions, creates pathways for empathy and opens our eyes to the beauty of our differences. Television has the power to bring someone into your living room that you may not have had the opportunity to have met in any other scenario. We can’t be everything at once — straight, gay, black, Latino, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, male, female — but we can learn about what we are not through art. And that is where the healing begins.”

She then related the themes of diversity, inclusivity, and unity to The CW’s programming, which includes her series that is centered around a Latino young woman.

“The CW uses its platform to build bridges of understanding through inclusion and equality,” Rodriguez said. “I mean, we got five female-led shows from virgins, to crazy ex-girlfriends to superheroes — and just wait ’til next season. The CW gets more expansive, innovative, and revolutionary in its storytelling each and every year, which is why I am so incredibly proud to be a part of this network [and] to be led by a man, Mark Pedowitz, who wants to help heal the world one character at a time,” she said, introducing the network’s president.

“To all the advertisers who have supported this network’s journey to creating stories that reflect what America truly looks like — a melting pot of cultures, religions, ethnicities — thank you. And to those that have yet to join, the doors are wide open because we can’t do this alone.”

Thursday’s Upfront is not the first time Rodriguez has stunned with her words. When she won her first Golden Globe for “Jane the Virgin,” her acceptance speech wowed the audience, critics, and fans. “This award is so much more than myself. It represents a culture that wants to see themselves as heroes. My father used to tell me to say every morning, ‘Today is going to be a great day. I can and I will.’ Well, dad, today is a great day. I can and I did,” she said at the 2015 Golden Globes. Her “I can and I will” mantra then became the tagline for The CW’s Emmy campaign for “Jane the Virgin,” and now is the name of her company, I Can and I Will Productions.

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