Whenever there is buzz over an up-and-coming Latina actress, the excitement in our community is palpable. (We think, another Latina has broken through, representing us in Hollywood!) And when said actress happens to be a descendant of Latin pop-culture royalty? Well, that only turns up the heat. So, long before many of us had seen Génesis Rodríguez’s movies, we were already rooting for her. Her father, after all, is José Luis Rodríguez-“El Puma” to you and me-the Venezuelan singer whose good looks and swagger made him a 1980s stereo staple in Latin households everywhere. Even back when Rodrguez was starring on Telemundo soaps (like Dame Chocolate and Doña Bárbara), we knew: She was one of us.

In 2011 Rodríguez, now 28, left her hometown of Miami for Hollywood, laser-focused on establishing herself as a well-rounded film actress. And, boy, has she ever accomplished this goal. It’s been both sweet and satisfying to watch her become the ultimate crossover star. The comedy Casa de Mi Padre cast Rodríguez alongside a Spanish-speaking Will Ferrell and was soon followed by dramas (Tusk, Run All Night) and even an animated turn as superhero Honey Lemon in Disney’s Oscar-winning Big Hero 6. A reward for all her work and a surefire sign that she’d arrived: Rodríguez was recently named brand ambassador for L’Oréal Paris.

Today Rodríguez is the type of star who can chat it up in Spanish on Despierta América one day and hang out sofa-side with Conan O’Brien the next. Clearly we needed to have our own one-on-one time with her.

Glam Belleza Latina: Your dad is El Puma! What was it like to grow up with such an icon?

Génesis Rodríguez: I loved that people loved my dad. He never said no to an autograph but didn’t make fame a “thing” or act any differently. And it was beautiful to have that support from his fan base when I started to study acting.

GBL: Did you tap him for advice?

GR: Yes. He believed that if you wanted to prove yourself as an actress, you had to prove it to your people first. He advised me to start in the Spanish market, so landing a Telemundo contract was huge. I grew up watching telenovelas, and I couldn’t believe I was now a protagonist in one. I also loved movies, but in my household it was Sábado Gigante and soap operas. I mean, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched María la del Barrio.

GBL: Now that you’ve crossed over to Hollywood, do you reflect on how your telenovela experience has impacted your current work?

GR: It’s been wonderful to have started my career in the Spanish market. This, combined with being El Puma’s daughter-such an important name to Latinos-gives me a voice in this industry.

GBL: How was the transition to American movies? Did it feel like you were starting from scratch?

GR: I’d been on sets since I was 15 years old, but I would audition in Hollywood and they’d look at me like I had never worked before. I’ve had to earn every single step.

GBL: You’re such an ambassador for our culture, even improvising telenovela scenes on talk shows. Does it bother you when it seems like mainstream audiences are making fun of them?

GR: I will protect telenovelas until the end. They’re melodramatic for a reason. A director once told me, “You need to act like you’re on mute and speak as though the viewer is in the other room doing the dishes.” You become a part of the house. We can make fun of telenovelas, but not to the point where we’re mocking them.

GBL: That’s an interesting way to look at it. How do those fans treat you now that you’re no longer part of their daily lives?


GR: They hug me as if I were their sibling, and I know how much it means to me. If I had the chance to meet Thalía, I would hug her the same way. I learned how to cry because of her!

GBL: Congratulations on becoming a L’Oréal Paris brand ambassador. You’re joining the ranks of some amazing Latinas, like Jennifer Lopez, Zoe Saldana, and Eva Longoria. What an honor!

GR: I can’t believe I’m in the same company as those ladies! I’ve been a L’Oréal girl my whole life. I’ve done so many drugstore runs for my grandmother’s tinte. That this has come back to me in this beautiful way is just so full-circle.

GBL: Your first L’Oréal TV commercial was unveiled this summer. Hearing you say the brand’s motto, “Because you’re worth it,” in Spanish-“Porque tú lo vales”-was so moving! Was it inspiring for you as well?

GR: I feel so privileged to be able to relay this message. We need reminders of how beautiful we are. I especially want to change the way we as Latinas see our beauty. I feel that there is a misinterpretation of what we’re supposed to look like.

GBL: Are you referring to Latina beauty stereotypes?

GR: I can speak from what I know. And what I know is that although telenovelas have been part of my world since childhood, I always felt like I had to be something that I wasn’t. I had to put on so much makeup and wear a push-up bra and have huge hair with blond highlights. I was falling into a mentality where “more” was more beautiful.

GBL: How did you find the beauty sentiment in Hollywood? Was it similar?

GR: As soon as I came to L.A., I was told that I was exotic. I’d think, But I’m from Miami! I’m as American as a cheeseburger! I felt that if I was the only “ethnic” person in a room full of blond and blue-eyed [actors], then I didn’t have a chance. But if I was in a room with Latinos or African Americans, I fit in.

GBL: Did these impressions in some way help shape your career choices?

GR: That’s when I realized that either they’re going to hire me for me or they’re not. I want people to consider talent without a last name or a race attached to it. I knew it would be a long path but also worth the struggle. That’s when I got my confidence and when I started to figure out what beauty is.

GBL: Did your mom [Cuban former model Carolina Pérez] guide your beauty philosophies too?

GR: Definitely. My mom genuinely liked to take care of herself. I would watch her in her robe, with her little hair turban, cleansing her face at night, and I wanted to imitate her. Little did I know that she was giving me a beautiful lesson in loving myself. Women cheat themselves of that time, but taking an hour to exfoliate and put on good lotions and masks and just chill in the bathtub? It does so much for you.

Her Trusted Beauty Kit:

A Skin Perfector: IS Clinical Pro-Heal Serum Advance+

A Nude Gloss: L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Last Lipcolor in Permanent Blush

A Neutral Liner: Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Lip Liner in Pillow Talk

A Finishing Touch: L’Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Liquid Glow Illuminator in C301 Ice

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