Gina Rodriguez is a firecracker. Even over the phone, you can picture her bouncing around like a boxer and making a million facial expressions. It’s no wonder the 27-year-old actress picked up rapping so fast to play “Majo,” a L.A. hip-hop artist in the movie “Filly Brown,” scheduled to hit theaters in September.
She’s still buzzing from the film’s successful Sundance debut and its first L.A. screening at an April gathering of filmmakers produced by the National Assn. of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP). But hip-hop wasn’t always her thing.
“I was never into it,” said the Puerto Rican L.A.-based beauty. “Rapping gave me a home to express myself differently than I’d been doing for the past 20 years. I realized I love to rap.”
Rodriguez grew up between Chicago and Puerto Rico. Dancing came naturally to her, but acting was honed as a theater student at NYU. She moved to L.A. in 2009, and did a fellowship at NALIP. It was there, that she connected with filmmakers like Carmen Marron, who casted Rodriguez in her dance flick “Go For It!,” which caught the attention of “Filly Brown” directors Youssef Delara and Michael D. Olmos.
“I ate up the script in 55 minutes,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a strong, powerful female lead, so I was instantly drawn to it.”
Before she knew it, Rodriguez was witnessing a “Stand and Deliver” reunion on the “Filly Brown” set. Lou Diamond Phillips plays her dad and Edward James Olmos sings a duet with banda queen Jenni Rivera.
“I just watched the greats and hoped some of it rubbed off on me,” said Rodriguez, who’s now hooked on music.
Although she had never spit a flow in her life, Rodriguez was in good hands with “Filly Brown” producers Mico Olmos and Latin hip-hop personalities “Khool-Aid” and Edward “E-Dub” Rios.
Up next, Rodriguez is reuniting with Delara on a psychological thriller called “Snap” and plays boxer Seniesa Estrada in Olmos’ next film.
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