Actress Gina Rodriguez broke down in tears during a Tuesday interview while responding to a claim that “a lot of blacks felt” like she was “coming against [them]” after comments she made during a discussion panel in November of 2018 regarding pay disparities between white, black, Asian, and Latina women.
““I get so petrified … talking about equal pay, especially when you look at the intersectional aspect of it,” she said at the time. “White women get paid more than black women, and black women get paid more than Asian women, Asian women get paid more than Latina women, and it’s like a very scary space to step into.”
Her comments were slammed and Rodriguez joined SiriusXM’s Sway in the Morning to speak with hosts Sway Calloway and Tracy G. to promote her latest film, Miss Bala, and to clear the air.
WATCH (relevant portion begins at 11:58):
TRACY G: So Gina, with now these conversations, we’ve heard you speak out on behalf of equality, for women’s rights, racially, have you been able to make sense with the backlash that you got last year when, you know, you made a comment, and this was speaking about intersectional femininity — I mean feminism, excuse me — and how black women, black actresses tend to make more than Asian actresses, and Asian actresses tend to make more than more than Latina actresses, and a lot of blacks felt like the comparison wasn’t fair and that you were coming against us.
GINA RODRIGUEZ: So, I never said actresses. I wasn’t speaking about my industry. I was speaking about — I always find it difficult to talk about equal pay as a woman who makes a substantial amount of money. As somebody who came from poverty, to now the amount of money that I get paid, it doesn’t feel right that I’m the one talking about it because I’m just so damned grateful. to then be on a panel with women that I respect and admire and us talk about a subject that I find very difficult to talk about, I was, what I was saying, was that when we talk about equal pay we have to talk about intersectionality because we all must rise.
TRACY G: Yeah.
GINA RODRIGUEZ: And so, the backlash was devastating to say the least, because —
TRACY G: Take your time.
SWAY CALLOWAY: Take your time with it, Gina.
GINA RODRIGUEZ: — because, this is also my first, okay, I got this. Because the black community was the only community I looked towards. Growing up, we didn’t have many Latino shows, and the black community made me feel like I was seen. So to get anti-black, saying that I’m anti-family. My father is dark-skinned. He’s Afro-Latino, and my cousins are. Puerto Ricans are African and Spaniard, so it’s in my blood. So it was really devastating to me, and I know my heart. I know what I meant, and I really wish that we weren’t living in a culture where we’re clickbait, because I have never said anything controversial about anybody. Because if anything, the black community is my community. As Latinos, we have black Latinos. Like that is what we are.
Rodriguez called for unity during her interview Wednesday — which she did not qualify — between blacks and Hispanics in light of an American social hierarchy she described as “intersectional.”
“The last thing I want to do is put two underrepresented groups against each other,” said Rodriguez. “Our unification is what is our rise. Our unification is what’s going to allow both of our communities to continue to flourish.”
Earlier in the interview, Rodriguez said, “As we all know, here in America, to assimilate is to hopefully not be targeted.”
In November of 2018, Rodriguez joined actresses Eva Longoria, Rosario Dawson, Zoe Saldana, and America Ferrera in the streets of Miami to campaign for then-Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL). Despite using Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign — “Si se puede” and “Yes we can” — to rally Floridians, Nelson was defeated by then-Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL).
Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.