Her comments were heard by many as Rodriguez claiming Black actresses make more than Latina ones, which was heavily refuted online (Sofia Vergara, for instance, is the highest paid actress on TV). But in her first interview about the controversy she’s caused, with Sway in the Morning, the 34-year-old tearfully set the record straight about those most recent statements, and how being labeled “anti-Black” has hurt her:
I never said actresses. I wasn’t speaking about my industry. I always find it difficult to talk about equal pay as a woman who makes a substantial amount of money. Somebody who came from poverty to now the amount of money I get paid, it doesn’t feel right that I’m the one talking about it because I’m just so damn grateful. To then be on a panel with women I respect and admire and us talk about a subject that I find very difficult to talk about. What I was saying was that when we talk about equal pay we have to talk about intersectionality because we all must rise. And so, the backlash was devastating to say the least [cries]…because the Black community was the only community I looked towards growing up. We didn’t have many Latino shows and the Black community made me feel like I was seen. So to get “anti-Black” is saying that I’m anti-family. My father is dark-skinned, he’s Afro-Latino. And my cousins are Puerto Rican, African, Taino and Spaniard. It’s in my blood. So that was really devastating to me. And I know my heart. I know what I meant. I really wish we weren’t living in a culture where we’re clickbait, because I’ve never said anything controversial about anybody. And far would I ever — ’cause if anything, the Black community is my community. As Latinos, we have Black Latinos. I am not, so I think when I speak about Latino advocacy, people believe I mean only people my skin color and little do they know I’m very aware of what my culture is and the opportunities I create and who I put in those spaces are both the Latino and Black community. So it was really, really a dark time for me. It made me get away from social media because my mental health is much more important to me, especially when I know my intention. The last thing I want to do is put two underrepresented groups against each other. Our unification is our rise. Our unification is what’s going to allow both of our communities to continue to flourish. I support and I would hope the reverse would happen. So when that happened, that was really f–king hard. Because what do you say? Sorry for cheating when you didn’t cheat? How do you talk to a bunch of people that all they do is read, “Gina Rodriquez Says Controversial Comments About Black Actresses.” Where? When? What? Ever? Why? Never in a million years! So that sh-t was real difficult, but I have to keep my head up and know my heart and know what I do and know who I am. And I hope over time that those I had offended who had seen it as a comparison of oppression, which is devastating, ’cause we should not compare that. That is not something to compare. It’s sadly a fact that Latinas in all industries make less money. It’s a fact! And that sucks, but I wasn’t saying just them. It’s interesting because the white community, nor the Asian community got mad at me. I found that very interesting that the one community that I felt I related to the most were the most upset with me. That was just devastating. How do you talk to so many people and let them know that like, you are so far from the truth. That is so far from my heart. That is so far from who I am. And if you go and see the interview, I was not comparing anyone. And I never said actresses, because we should not even be talking about actresses. We make too much damn money…I felt their pain and I will always apologize sincerely from the bottom of my heart if I cause pain on anyone because that’s not who I am. But that felt really far left field for me. That felt real out of context and I just didn’t know how to control that. Something that just felt like, you can’t seriously watch that interview and think I was putting us against each other. You can’t. I do know that as an advocate for Latinos and Latinas, it’s also a feeling of taking space. But there’s space for all of us. And I think the mentality that there isn’t is a detriment to our growth.
For the record, Rodriguez said that following the confusion over her pay inequality comments, it was actually Black actresses who came to her aid and kept her encouraged. Still, she ended the interview by asking for forgiveness from anyone, particularly those in the Black community, who have felt some type of way about the things she’s said. Check out her comments below, which start at the 12:06 mark.