Q&A with Jane the Virgin’s Andrea Navedo

After premiering back in 2014 and garnering much attention by both audiences and critics (plus two Golden Globes nominations and one win along the way), Jane the Virgin has earned the title of the little show that could, and did, deliver. Actress Andrea Navedo has been a scene-stealer on the CW hit, which revolves around 23-year-old Jane Villanueva (a virgin), who gets accidentally artificially inseminated. Her portrayal of Jane’s (Gina Rodriquez) mother Xiomara “Xo” Villanueva, a sexually-at-ease, devoted mother has earned her laughs and an Imagen Award, given annually to recognize top portrayals of Latinos in the entertainment industry, for Best Supporting Actress.

Gearing up for the season 3 premiere on Oct. 17, Navedo takes some time off between takes to chat over the phone about her real life parenting skills, the status of Latina women in the entertainment industry and the show’s at-first surprising success.

How did you first land the role?
I was living in New York at the time and I have a husband and two kids and my in-laws were in the hospital at the time. I had just started working with my managers and they had been saying to me from when I had started working with them that it was going to be important for me to come out to Los Angeles for pilot season. I knew they were right but it was hard for me considering leaving my family and stuff like that.

[…]

 When I got to LA, my first audition was for Jane the Virgin. It was really quick. I thought the synopsis [for the show] sounded so ridiculous and all I could think of was ‘Whatever, let me just show up to this audition and look at it as practice.’ I was the first person in the room and I just felt like everything just clicked for me. Fast forward three weeks later after more callbacks and screen tests and chemistry reads with Gina [Rodriguez]. Three weeks from when I arrived I officially booked the role.

Speaking of the show’s extravagant premise: Did you ever think the show would be such a huge hit?
I really didn’t anticipate it being a hit, I was just super happy I had a job. Being on the CW, I didn’t expect to get any attention either, to be honest. But one of the things that I’ve learned as I’ve been on Jane the Virgin is that the CW is an amazing network. They have been so supportive of their creators. They are like family and I really didn’t expect that because you hear people talk about the business, you hear about ‘the suits come in and tell the creative people what to do and they ruin their creativity.’ I haven’t seen that in my experience [on the show].

On the show, your daughter chooses to stay a virgin until she’s married because of her religious beliefs. Are you a religious person yourself?
I would say I’m a spiritual person. I do believe in a benevolent higher power.

Xo and Jane have a very strong mother-daughter bond. Do you find yourself to have a similar parenting style in real life?
I’m sure my daughter would love for me in some ways to be more like Xiomara and I get a lot of fans coming up to me and writing to me on social media [about] how they wish that I was their mother. It’s beautiful when you see Xiomara so loving and accepting and encouraging and so close—she’s almost like sisters with Jane. That’s beautiful and wonderful but I can’t be that for my children in real life because I have to be the one to create boundaries for them and protect them and keep them safe. I get a little torn sometimes because I do admire the relationship that Jane and Xiomara have and I would like to have that with my daughter but I don’t think I will have that with her until she’s maybe in college.

Until she’s her own person.
Yeah. We are living in an era of overt sexuality: How do I shelter or protect my children from all that they see? I can’t, it’s impossible. So, as a mom, I’m super worried.

Speaking of the era we live in, how does it feel to be a Latina woman on a successful TV show that is predominantly Latina?
I definitely think that times are changing. When I decided to be an actress I knew that the odds were stacked against me because of the fact that I [am] Latina, but it was a calling for me so I couldn’t help it. I’ve always kind of been a best-case-scenario person, [thinking] there’s always something great around the corner, and it’s been beautiful to see over the years Jennifer Lopez, Rita Moreno, Eva Mendes and, little by little, Latinas have been [stepping] up to the plate and hitting those home runs and chipping away. Eva Longoria is another amazing example.

I feel like Jane the Virgin was a big sledgehammer in terms of breaking down barriers. I’m very happy and proud to be on this show for many reasons and that’s one of them!

Season 3 premieres on Oct. 17. What can you tell us about it?
It’s going to be a time for Xo to grow up and mature in a lot of ways. She’s going to be making some big life decisions and making some major changes and we’re going to see a lot of growth in Xiomara but also in other characters.