“I really feel like this is what I probably should've done from the beginning,” Rodriguez dished exclusively to ET in-between takes of directing guest star Brooke Shields. “I absolutely love to direct, but obviously everything happens for a reason.”
Since beginning her onscreen journey in 2014 as Jane Villanueva on the hit CW dramedy, the 33-year-old actress has charmed critics and fans alike with her Golden Globe-winning performance and her infectious “I can and I will” passion.
With Jane the Virgin now in its fourth season, Rodriguez’s transition from in front of the camera to behind it has left her feeling "creatively full.”
“I feel like I get to tell Jane’s story so often and I love that — it's such an incredible feeling,” she said. “But [with directing,] I get to be a storyteller for this little chapter and there's something about stretching your wings like that, that I haven't been able to do in the past three years.”
“I get to be more creative, I get to use more of my heart and my energy,” she added. “It’s a challenge, but it's the right kind of challenge for me.”
Never one to shy away from a challenge, Rodriguez has been actively pursuing to change the lack of onscreen diversity in Hollywood.
Set up at the start of 2017, Rodriguez founded I Can And I Will Productions, which is committed to telling stories from the “unheard and the unseen” on the screen — a cause that Rodriguez has been extremely vocal about on her social media platforms, especially with her Latino culture.
"[Jane] has opened doors for opportunities to create my own shows, to make new faces, to make more Latino and Latina faces, [to put] women in front of and behind the cameras, so Jane is kind of next level," Rodriguez said.
"I'm just doing the best possible job I can to create more opportunity for me and for other women and for other Latinos," she stressed. "It's really important that I do my best work and there is no better time than now with our Time's Up movement, with us speaking up about discrimination and harassment and pay disparity and the lack thereof of opportunity.”
"We're living in this movement and it is a movement," Rodriguez noted. "It's continuous and we are not stopping. We're going to keep fighting, and being vocal, and being caring, and loving, and generous, and conscientious, and aware and there's nothing better than directing during this time right now."
The Chicago native, who is already set to direct more episodes of Jane, was quick to champion another woman in Hollywood making her dreams a reality. Rodriguez described herself as “forever grateful” to Jane the Virgin’s creator and executive producer Jennie Snyder Urman for “opening the door” and allowing her to take on this career-revolutionizing challenge.
“It's so beautiful that Jennie gave me the opportunity to do this. Our show is very hard to do. Our show is nothing to mess with, I mean the tone is specific,” she explained. “Jennie is my muse, she's my dream-maker and I'll never be able to repay her, but I think by my actions I'll be able to do that."
Watch Rodriguez’s directorial debut of Jane the Virgin tonight at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.