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Gina Rodriguez on Directing, Diversity and Convincing Famous Friends to Be in Her New Movie

What Gina Rodriguez really wants to do is direct.

“I want to tell the stories that haven’t been told, I want to tell them with people you haven’t seen yet, and I want to open hearts and minds to more tolerance,” she told Variety at Wednesday night’s premiere of her new Netflix movie, “Someone Great.” “I think that art has the ability to create healing, so those are the kind of movies I want to make. I definitely am looking to my future.”

But serving as both producer and star of this film kept her plenty busy. “One of my main goals as a producer was to bring on a very inclusive cast — to have the cast look like the world I walk through,” she said. She wasn’t shy about hitting up her celeb pals to appear in the film, either. “I was blessed to have a lot of great friends participate in this: Rosario Dawson jumped in for me, Lakeith Stanfield was so phenomenal.”

Not that asking your friends for a work favor is the easiest thing to do. “Yes, there was a lot of convincing on my part,” admitted Rodriguez. “It was like: ‘Hey, put your stuff on hold and come play.’ And so I was incredibly grateful to those who did that for me, including RuPaul and Questlove. There was a lot of passion for this project.”

Needless to say, Rodriguez’s passion was shared by her co-star Brittany Snow. “I hope one day day it won’t be that this is ‘a diverse movie’ — it’s just authentic. I know that my friend group looks like this,” she told Variety.

Snow also found the premise of leaving your 20s behind and embracing adulthood relatable. “I’m still learning how to do that,” she said. “I’m getting married, I’m a homeowner, all these big things. But it wasn’t until I got to 30 that I found my voice,” she added, which is ironic considering that Snow has played a singer in three “Pitch Perfect” movies. “I think the ‘Pitch Perfect’ movies are diverse because there’s not supposed to be a film about an a cappella group and the shift in culture right now is that there are so many things that people gravitate toward that are not what Hollywood portrays.”

DeWanda Wise, who plays a commitment-phobic lesbian in “Someone Great,” similarly appreciated this opportunity to flip an outdated trope. “I had no barometer of anything when I was a kid, so I did feel like I saw myself in Julia Roberts,” she told Variety.

But as far as so-called “chick flicks” go, this is no “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” that’s for sure. “To subvert a genre, you have to know and master it. And Jennifer [Kaytin Robinson, the film’s writer/director] did a fantastic job of knowing the beats of the genre so that when you expect one thing to happen, she flips it. She wrote these characters, but left the character description open, so we were able to collaborate in a way where I could go and make her a native Brooklyn black girl,” Wise said.

“I wanted this movie to look like the audience that it’s for, especially being set in New York City,” Robinson told Variety. “I would be doing a disservice to not make this movie as diverse and inclusive as it could possibly be.” But as far as she’s concerned, this flick is, in fact, for the girls. “I am working with three powerhouses,” she said of her trio of leading ladies. “But at the end of the day, we worked our asses off and this is a movie about women, for women.”

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