The star of 'Jane the Virgin' can probably beat you up—but don't worry, she won't. We talked with Gina Rodriguez about her boxing skills, why she cries during her runs, and how she deals with the pressures in Hollywood.

By MaryAnn Barone
Updated August 19, 2015
Credit: Getty Images

Actress Gina Rodriguez is having quite the year. In January, the Jane the Virgin star won a Golden Globe award for her portrayal of Jane Villanueva, a young woman who’s accidentally inseminated at her gyno’s office when she’s there for a routine pap smear. The comedy-drama doesn’t return to The CW until October 12th, but Rodriguez has kept busy rolling with the punches—literally. The 31-year-old is an avid boxer. We sat down with Rodriguez at her Crest launch event for Crest 3D White Brilliance 2 Step to get her advice on punching up, maintaining self-confidence, and staying motivated every single day.

I see on your Instagram how much you love boxing. What inspired you to start?

My dad just retired, but he was a professional referee for boxing. So I grew up in boxing. I was always involved in boxing, but it wasn’t until this summer [that I really got into it]. It was a pretty transformative summer. You know when you have those times in your life when you’re like, "I’m definitely going through a season and things are changing"?I went kind of knee-deep into it, which is nice because then I got closer to my dad, but then I got closer to my inner strength. I would never use boxing to hurt anyone. On the contrary, it just made me feel like I don’t have a victim walk, and I love it. It’s so empowering. And I feel pretty strong.

Do you do any other workouts?

I’m training to do a marathon with Nike right now, so I will be doing the half-marathon in October in San Francisco. The guy who plays my baby daddy in the show [Justin Baldoni] does documentaries called My Last Days [that follows people living with terminal illnesses], so I will be running in the name of one of the girls that’s in the documentary.

How’s training going?

Oh girl….running is tough. My body is like aye [grabs aching shoulders]. But it’s going to be okay. It’s going to be great. I have two more months.

Do you have any workout playlists that you like?

It’s interesting because I don’t even need pumped-up music. I kind of need soft music. So it’s not like “Get it! Get it!” It’s more like Sam Smith, like Jessie Ware. I will literally be like running and sobbing….It’s totally an emotional journey.

And I saw that Britney Spears is going to be on your show [in season two].

Oh my god. I’m so frigging excited. I’m so excited.

Do you have a favorite Britney song?

Mine is back in the day, her first [...Baby One More Time]. I grew up with Britney. To be on a show that she wants to be on and that she desires to come be a part of? I mean, that’s like, someone slap me across the face, that’s not really happening is it? When she’s there I’m going to be like, "Oh my god, it’s you! It's you!….Can we just do all the dances to every single song? Just teach me all of them, please. Right here in this big warehouse, please."

Do you have any personal mantras or quotes that you live by?

Today’s going to be a great day. I can and I will.

How do you maintain your body confidence and self-esteem in Hollywood?

It’s a very difficult thing. I mean it’s definitely an interesting balance because you want to not get swept up in an image that does not exist. [It's] staying true to who you are; not even who you are in the sense that I’ll never get super thin, or I’ll never get plastic surgery. It’s staying [true] to the comfort of your body, and that’s a personal journey for everyone. To try to look like someone else is impossible. To try to attain something that isn’t meant for your body is impossible.

I think embracing who you are right now is so necessary in an industry that’s constantly telling you you’re not enough. I feel very blessed to have had a foundation of someone that told me time and time again that I was enough, that I am beautiful the way I am today, that as long as I work hard and am good to others, and I keep my integrity and my respect for myself, that I will be okay.

It’s working on me all the time because you’re held accountable for everything you put out, you’re held accountable for everything you do; there [are] no takebacks. So the journey of who you are is where you have to begin. I went on that journey a while ago, and everything happens for a reason I think. Jane came into my life at a time when I was prepared to take on such a responsibility.

Editor's Note: This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Did you miss the first season of Jane the Virgin? No worries, you can catch up on Hulu. See how Rodriguez describes her character in the clip below.

[hulu id=pvmtugjynsyoweattonqjq width=512]