LOS ANGELES (CBS SF/AP) — Gina Rodriguez imagined a Hollywood-style awards show that recognized young women for realizing their dreams in science, public policy and community service, so the actress followed her own dream and made it happen.
The “Jane the Virgin” star is producer and host of the inaugural Marie Claire Young Women’s Honors, airing Monday as a special on the CW, seen locally on KBCW 44 Cable 12 at 9:00pm PST.
The show has all the trappings of a typical Hollywood awards ceremony — a glitzy dinner with celebrity presenters such as Katie Holmes and Hailee Steinfeld — except the honorees are female achievers outside the entertainment industry, like entrepreneur-inventor Jessica Matthews and political activist Amanda Nguyen.
“I’ve always wanted to do work to uplift women, to put women in the forefront of the media and to really glorify other aspects of our society that aren’t just fame driven,” Rodriguez said in a recent interview. “There are a lot of wonderful things that a woman can do and is capable of that we don’t see that often in the media and pop culture. … And it would be great to start streaming stuff like Young Women’s Honors through the same apparatus that says you should have lip injections.”
The show, taped last month at the Marina del Rey Marriott in Los Angeles, also spotlights Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, Paralympian Tatyana McFadden and Fereshteh Forough , who is providing income possibilities to women in Afghanistan by teaching them computer coding skills.
Young Women’s Honors is the first project for Rodriguez’s year-old production company, I Can and I Will Productions. The actress and her partners developed the show, secured sponsors and presenters and helped choose the honorees.
“It was a huge undertaking,” Rodriguez said. “It was like planning a wedding. It was like a week before the wedding everything was a disaster and the bride was going to run away — me being the bride!”
She said she was moved by the honorees’ achievements and touched by the willingness of actresses like Holmes, Steinfeld, Laverne Cox, Tatiana Maslany and others to appear as presenters on a first-time awards show. Rodriguez found the experience deeply rewarding, and at times overwhelming.
“I had never been more hands-on besides ‘Jane,'” Rodriguez said. “When it was done, I went on the balcony and just bawled.”
There’s no more time for tears, though, even ones of relief. Rodriguez is busy shooting “Jane the Virgin,” which returned for its third season in the fall. She’s on the cover of Marie Claire magazine’s December issue, which features the recipients of the Young Women’s Honors inside. And now she’s off to Thailand, where she’s writing a book inspired by her father, “I Can and I Will: Tools My Daddy Gave Me.”
But first comes the premiere of Young Women’s Honors, and Rodriguez is still pinching herself.
“This has been a dream of mine forever,” she said. “I am telling others to dream big and to make their dreams a reality and it’s something that I did in succession with doing this. It is such a real feeling.”
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