Golden Globe-winning actress Gina Rodriguez may portray a prim do-gooder on CW’s Jane the Virgin, but in real life, the fiery 31-year-old is evidently unafraid to dive deep into the world of racy intimates. “I’m a woman and I love to feel sexy in my body,” she tells InStyle. Yes, we’re sure the beauty kills it in her skivvies, but it’s not a new, flashy TV segment she’s sorting through bras for. Instead, the beauty has tapped her undisputed star power and confidence to join Naja CEO Catalina Girald as the brand’s co-founder.
The company makes stylish and comfortable pieces of classic and modern lingerie, but its mission to give back to the single, head of household women who work in its Colombian manufacturing headquarters is what drew Rodriguez to the project. “I was so impressed by Catalina’s desire to help women that are in these situations, but then also make eco-friendly clothing and give back to communities and empower Latinas and women in general. I was taken away by her story,” she says.
Thanks to Girald’s impressive efforts, low-income, hard-working mothers in Colombia can not only work with the brand to provide for their families, but also have the opportunity to send their children to college through the Naja College Education Fund. “Garment workers in most places of the world don’t usually get paid enough to take care of themselves and their children,” Girald, who has heard the unfortunate tails of many of these disenfranchised women first-hand, tells us.
And while the company’s ultimate mission is a serious one, its the lingerie that of course stands out. Naja designed a lace black bra dubbed the “Gina” ($65; naja.co) in honor of the Golden Globe-winning star, but other pieces include undergarments that are decorated with empowering messages for women everywhere. “I wear lingerie to feel good about myself, to use my body as a hanger for something beautiful. Every girl, no matter her sexuality, economic background, demographic background, wants to look in the mirror and love herself first,” Rodriguez says. “I think our lingerie is to love yourself and wear the lingerie for yourself first and foremost.”
Despite her ability to command the camera, the star adds that finding her inner confidence wasn’t easy: “It took a process for me to fall in love with the body I was given and that journey was so empowering because I feel alive in that place where you can look in the mirror and love who is standing in front of you. It’s priceless. Everyone wants to feel beautiful.”
So can we expect Rodriguez to officially add designer to her resume? “I’m hoping that I will be able to get into designing a little bit later when time permits, I gotta shoot Jane!” she admits, adding, “I don’t like to spread myself too thin. I think you can really accomplish something great if you put all of your energy into it.”
In the meantime, however, she’s using her charitable initiatives to send positive messages to young women everywhere. “Know that you own it. You own it today. There’s no need for you to change something about your look, about your economic background—just know you are all of that and more,” she says. “The way to create change in your community, the way to empower others is to take that first step and do it knowing that you own that power right now because I said it, because I believe that there’s actually nothing stopping you. So, stop reading and get your ass out there and go do whatever you want in this world!”