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Gina Rodriguez to receive MFF Navigator Award

Award-winning actress, activist best known on TV for ‘Jane the Virgin’

GINA RODRIGUEZ Navigator Award

WAILEA — Golden Globe-winning movie and television actress and champion of the causes of inclusion and women’s empowerment, Gina Rodriguez will accept the 2019 Maui Film Festival Navigator Award, festival founder and director Barry Rivers announced today.

Best known as the star of the award-winning CW series “Jane the Virgin,” Rodriguez joins previous recipients including Elizabeth Banks, Connie Britton, Bryan Cranston, Viola Davis, Colin Farrell and Woody Harrelson, receiving the coveted award “honoring a film artist for carving a path of distinction through the turbulent waters of the entertainment industry without sacrificing their fundamental commitment to excellence.”

“We are thrilled to honor Gina Rodriguez with the 2019 Maui Film Festival Navigator Award,” said Rivers. “Gina’s talent, focus, charisma, determination and commitment to promoting diversity within the industry combine perfectly, allowing her incredible glow to shine on screens both large and small all around the world.”

Rodriguez joins previously announced honorees Paul Rudd, Awkwafina, Joe Manganiello (who will accept his award from his wife and co-star Sofia Vergara) and Maya Erskine for this year’s 20th anniversary Maui Film Festival, returning June 12-16 to the Wailea Resort and the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.

Rodriguez won a Golden Globe for her lead role in the Peabody Award-winning comedy “Jane the Virgin,” playing Jane Villanueva, a religious Latina woman who becomes pregnant after accidentally being artificially inseminated. Concluding its fifth season this year, the Jenny Snyder Urman-created series was nominated for its own Golden Globe and was named Program of the Year by the American Film Institute.

Rodriguez is an iconic hero to another demographic as the voice and producer of the Netflix animated series “Carmen Sandiego” about a globe-hopping master thief, a franchise revived from great popularity in the 1980s and ’90s. She will also star in a live-action project based on the character that’s been announced for the big screen.

Born in Chicago of Puerto Rican heritage, Rodriguez joined a salsa dance company when she was still a girl, performing at several Salsa Conferences across the U.S. This led to a passion for theater, and she went on to graduate from New York University’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts.

Her breakout film role came in the 2012 Sundance hit “Filly Brown,” starring as a promising hip-hop artist grappling with a moral compromise on her path to stardom. Most recently, according to a Maui Film Festival release, “Rodriguez starred in and produced the film ‘Someone Great,’ starring opposite Brittany Snow and DeWanda Wise. Previously this year, Rodriguez starred as the title character in Sony’s ‘Miss Bella,’ an action thriller about a woman who gets pulled into the violent world of organized crime in Mexico.”

Her untitled heist thriller, directed by Miranda Joy and co-starring Richard Jenkins and 2014 Maui Film Festival honoree Evan Rachel Wood, is in post-production. Rodriguez’s other recent film credits include Paramount’s “Annihilation,” “Deepwater Horizon,” “Ferdinand” and “Smallfoot.”

Off screen, Rodriguez has a high profile of activism. Her production company, I Can and I Will Productions, has set a mission “to create art that tells stories from the traditionally unseen and unheard.” Her We Will Foundation, established with her family, “is designed to focus on arts education and scholarship funding for the less fortunate, with the aim of championing and lifting up young women and men,” according to a festival release.

For more information, tickets and passes for the festival, visit www.mauifilmfestival.com.

* Freelance writer Rick Chatenever can be contacted at rickchatenever@gmail.com.