Though there were many films premiering at SXSW, Gina Rodriguez was not in town for any of them.
The day after speaking on a panel for Bumble, the Golden Globe winner was the keynote speaker at the Austin conference for Create & Cultivate, the online platform and conference series for women “who want to create and cultivate the career of their dreams,” as the company says.
Given her noted passion for female empowerment and advocacy for representation of women and minorities in the film industry, Rodriguez seemed a no-brainer choice.
“Both of the panels I chose to do at SXSW are female empowering, female-led, female entrepreneurs, and that what I’m about,” Rodriguez says, ahead of her address. “I love the idea of dialogue, period. It’s where I’ve always gotten my inspiration from: hearing other women speak, their journeys and their paths.”
Growing up, she didn’t have to look further than her own household to find women who inspired her.
“I was raised by incredible women. My two older sisters, my mother, my grandmother: I was in a house filled with women. My father was the odd man out. And he definitely always empowered us and was an ally of female empowerment and feminism — and back then those weren’t the terms that they used,” she says. “But those women. Those are definitely the women who stand out the most, when I think about the way in which I want to live my life, the way in which I made steps and decisions in my life.”
Rodriguez has long used Instagram as a platform for spreading positivity; she does a weekly series called “Movement Mondays” where she profiles an inspirational figure for her followers.
“I’ve been trying to expose underrepresentation with minority groups. So it’s nice to start fueling the energy into new environments that want to do the same,” she says. “I think that what’s great about what’s happening in our climate right now is that everybody is participating and it just allows you to not only be uplifted by everybody’s excitement and their desire for change for gender role change, for these conversations to be happening, for you to do the same. With Time’s Up, I finally had a space where you can feel all the energy, all the excitement, all that energy for change. It’s really lovely to see that crab in a barrel social norm go away: everybody clawing at each other to get to the top, because for so long there was only one seat at the table for a woman.
“The beautiful opening of education and knowledge showed us that there is more than one seat, and we are stronger when we work together,” she continues. “And that the reason that the boys’ club happened was because they had one. So we need a ... girls’ club, and a girl gang. It’s just lovely to see everybody rise up and utilize their power for positivity. Because it doesn’t hurt anybody; on the contrary, it just helps everyone.”