ENTERTAINMENT
01/23/2019 16:46 EST

Gina Rodriguez Breaks Silence On 'Anti-Black' Controversy: 'The Backlash Was Devastating'

The "Jane the Virgin" star clarified comments she made last year.

Gina Rodriguez could barely keep it together on the radio show “Sway in the Morning” on Tuesday when addressing comments she made last year that many interpreted as “anti-black.” 

“The backlash was devastating to say the least,” the 34-year-old said as she began crying.

“The black community was the only community I looked to growing up. We didn’t have that many Latino shows, so the black community made me feel like I was seen,” she added. “So to get anti-black is saying that I’m anti-family.” 

Santiago Felipe via Getty Images
Gina Rodriguez visits SiriusXM Studios on January 22, 2019 in New York City.

Rodriguez said that she’d “never said anything controversial about anybody” and added that her father is dark-skinned and Afro-Latino, a claim that some on social media questioned. 

“If anything, the black community is my community. When I speak about Latino advocacy, people think I’m only talking about people who are my skin color, but little do they know that I’m very aware of what my culture is,” the actress added. 

“I know my intention. The last thing I’d want to do is put two underrepresented groups against each other,” she added. 

During a Net-a-Porter roundtable last November with Ellen Pompeo, Emma Roberts and Gabrielle Union, the “Jane the Virgin” actress made comments about equal pay ― specifically that black women are paid more than Latinx women ― and that comment caused a firestorm of controversy. 

“I get so petrified in this space talking about equal pay, especially when you look at the intersectional aspect of it,” she said during the talk. “Where 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.”

While many perceived it as Rodriguez speaking about the entertainment industry, the actress insisted she was speaking about the pay gap in general for women of color. 

Previously, Rodriguez also received backlash over an interjection she made after actress Yara Shahidi was asked a question during an interview. When the interviewer asked Shahidi whether she thought she was a role model for black women, Rodriguez replied by saying she was a role model all women. The Root’s Tonja Renée Stidhum later said was Rodriguez basically “All-Lives-Matter[ing] the interviewer.”

She also faced criticism over a comment she made in the wake of Marvel’s “Black Panther,” when she tweeted, “Marvel and DC are killing it in inclusion and women but where are the Latinos?!” 

Some took her comments as detracting from “Black Panther’s achievements as well as erasing black Latina women who have appeared in superhero movies.

Which is why many thought that Rodriguez’s apology this week wasn’t quite enough: