Netflix’s new survival thriller “Awake” joins films such as “Bird Box” and “A Quiet Place” as a story that asks how humanity would survive when robbed of one of its basic physiological capabilities. “Bird Box” removes the power of sight, “A Quiet Place” looks at what happens when speaking is an almost guaranteed death sentence, and “Awake” takes from its characters the ability to sleep.
“Awake” even pumps up the stakes a little higher by shorting out all electronics, leaving humankind without any of its modern conveniences as scientists race to cure specieswide insomnia. At the center of the catastrophe is Jill, a mother who discovers that her daughter’s unique behavior might hold the answer to the problem that has brought the world to its knees.
While there are tons of things to take in while enjoying “Awake,” some might find themselves distracted by how familiar Jill looks. That’s because Jill is played by Gina Rodriguez, a film and television star who has appeared in everything from blockbuster movies to telenovelas. Here is why Jill from “Awake” looks so familiar.
Gina Rodriguez got her big break in Filly Brown
After nearly a decade of playing bit parts on TV, such as her 2004 debut on the Season 15 “Law and Order” episode “Enemy,” Gina Rodriguez landed what would become her breakout role as the lead in the 2012 film “Filly Brown.”
Rodriguez earned acclaim playing Majo, a young woman from Los Angeles whose aspirations of hip hop stardom are challenged by the reality of her family’s problems. Majo has been separated from her incarcerated mother, Maria (Jenni Rivera), for most of her life, and when her family’s lawyer Leandro (Edward James Olmos) says that he can make a break in the case if she can come up with $3,000, Majo starts exploring her options.
While the film received a lukewarm reception from American audiences, the Los Angeles Times said, “Rodriguez is forthright and formidable, a festival ingenue who deserves to be discussed in the same breath as Elizabeth Olsen and Jennifer Lawrence.” The film received nominations for awards within the United States and internationally, via IMDb, helping Rodriguez raise her visibility and land even more prominent roles.
One of Gina Rodriguez’s most visible roles was as Jane the Virgin
Shortly after Rodriguez starred in “Filly Brown,” she landed what would become one of her best-known roles as Jane Villanueva in the CW series “Jane the Virgin.” The series, which kicked off in 2014 and lasted for five seasons, was widely acclaimed and helped cement Rodriguez as a rising star.
All 100 episodes of “Jane the Virgin” revolved around Jane, a chaste and devout young woman who is accidentally artificially inseminated after a gynecologist visit goes wrong. The show used its unlikely premise to its advantage, routinely embracing and subverting the over-the-top tropes of the telenovela genre, much to the delight of viewers and critics. The show was so well received that all five seasons currently hold a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Rodriguez’s performance as Jane was also widely praised, even earning her a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a musical or comedy series in 2015, which would be the first Golden Globe won by a performer on the CW ever, per Variety.
Rodriguez starred with Mark Wahlberg in Deepwater Horizon
Perhaps propelled by her Golden Globe win and increased visibility from “Jane the Virgin,” in 2016 Gina Rodriguez would appear in the biggest film of her career, the true-life disaster drama “Deepwater Horizon.” In that film, Rodriguez was part of an ensemble cast that included Hollywood’s biggest stars, such as Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, and Kate Hudson.
Rodriguez played the role of Andrea Fleytas, a crew member on the doomed oil rig who takes the initiative to contact the Coast Guard after a deadly fire breaks out. While “Deepwater Horizon” explores the actions of many of the individuals present during the disaster throughout its runtime, Andrea becomes an emotional center for the story that audiences connect with when the gravity of the impending catastrophe becomes clear. Bustle said of her performance, “Rodriguez is not the hero of the story — but she is the heart of it.”
“Deepwater Horizon” was reasonably well-received by critics but failed to meet its financial goals. While the film did end up receiving nominations for some technical Oscars, it ultimately ended up being remembered as one of the biggest box office flops of 2016.
Gina Rodriguez also appeared alongside Natalie Portman in Annihilation
In 2018 Rodriguez appeared in the horror sci-fi film “Annihilation,” which featured Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Tessa Thompson. “Annihilation” told a dark, twisted tale of scientific exploration into a strange phenomenon known as the Shimmer and the descent into madness that followed for most of the expedition members.
Rodriguez played Anya, a paramedic, and appeared in the movie after undergoing a significant physical transformation, according to Entertainment Weekly. Playing Anya required Rodriguez to bulk up through a weightlifting regimen and abandon the conservative looks fans expected from her in “Jane the Virgin” by shaving half of her head. In the film, Anya falls victim first to paranoia and then the monstrous bear that preys on the crew, but still managed to make an impression on the complex film.
Unfortunately, just like “Deepwater Horizon,” the solid critical reception “Annihilation” received wasn’t enough to entice audiences, and the film was not a financial success. At the very least, however, it demonstrated that Gina Rodriguez had the range to play a far more diverse set of roles in the future.