By the time she turned 21, Genesis Rodriguez had already starred in several highly-rated telenovelas and could have easily settled into a long and comfortable career. But instead, when the Miami-born actress had fulfilled her contract with Telemundo, she did what countless other actresses had done before her: moved to Los Angeles to break into movies.
“I took a huge risk by walking away from a steady paycheck to chase a dream,” she says. “But I had always wanted to act in Hollywood films. I didn’t care if I was going to be stuck playing Girl No. 2. Apart from being Hispanic, I’m also bi-cultural. I consider myself as American as a cheeseburger. So I wanted to give it a shot.”
Three years and one guest-stint on HBO’s “Entourage” later, Rodriguez fulfilled her dream. In January, she appeared as an acrobatic thief alongside Jamie Bell in the thriller “Man on a Ledge.” Now she’s starring in the comedy “Casa de mi Padre” as Sonia, the young beauty who wins the heart of a noble Mexican played by Will Ferrell.
“I heard about the movie during a meeting with my agent, and I thought it was a brilliant idea: Will playing a Mexican in a Spanish-language movie? It was genius!” she says. Although she didn’t really think she had any chance of landing the role, she snagged an audition and had the part a week later.“During the audition, Will kept laughing when played our scenes, and I didn’t know if that was good or bad, because I was trying to be dead-serious,” she says. “And he literally couldn’t get his lines out because he was laughing so hard. It’s very surreal when you’re starting out as an actor and someone like Will Ferrell validates you. It’s the best stamp of approval I could hope for.”
“Casa de mi Padre” – which opens Friday and also features a hilarious cameo by her famous father, singer Jose Luis “El Puma” Rodriguez – is the first of three major films the actress has completed. In May, she will be part of the ensemble cast of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” a comedy about pregnancy starring Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz and Anna Kendrick. Next year comes “Last Stand,” in which she plays an FBI agent who teams up with a small-town sheriff (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) to hunt down a drug kingpin.
Not bad for an actress who was initially told she would get nowhere without changing her name.
“Everyone had a problem with ‘Genesis,'” she says. “They said it made me sound like a stripper! And they didn’t like the Rodriguez, either. But you know what? This is the name I was born with, and I want to keep it. And I’m so happy that so far, it’s been working.”
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