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Sundance: Gina Rodriguez of 'Filly Brown' is the newest 'It' girl

Each year, heat tends to build around certain young performers. This year, the focus is on Gina Rodriguez in the hip-hop tale 'Filly Brown.'

January 26, 2012|By Amy Kaufman, Los Angeles Times

Rodriguez, however, is attempting to make the most of the attention she's getting. While "Filly Brown" has yet to be picked up by a distribution company, many critics have praised the young star's performance as an East L.A. rapper struggling to stick to her morals as she becomes famous.

A native of Chicago's Belmont Cragin, Rodriguez said she grew up poor, running around town in the middle of the night with her friends spray-painting billboards with her graffiti tag, "Muse." Her dad was a referee for the World Boxing Organization and her mother was the director of interpreters at a nearby courthouse.

She's still paying off her student loans from New York University's Tisch drama school but has steadily been climbing her way up the Hollywood ladder since graduating in 2006. She's had guest-starring roles on TV shows including "Army Wives" and "The Bold and the Beautiful" but has struggled to find parts in which she hasn't been pigeonholed into a Latina stereotype.

"When I was growing up, I didn't see me as a doctor or a lawyer on TV. I saw me as the hooker or the prostitute or the pregnant teen, and I've played those roles, girl," she said. "I played a pregnant girl on 'Guiding Light.' I was a little hood kid on 'Law & Order' — a Salvadoran immigrant."

She paused as one of her former co-workers passed by to congratulate her on her success and say there would be no charge for the edamame.

"My dreams are coming true," she said, her eyes filling with tears. "To work so hard and get to a place where people see you and are maybe going to give you the opportunity to do more? I mean, hey, call me the "It" girl. I'm all about it."

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