Newcomer Gina Rodriguez wows Sundance as "Filly Brown"

Mon Jan 23, 2012 6:46pm EST
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By Zorianna Kit

PARK CITY, Utah (Reuters) - Gina Rodriguez may have arrived at the Sundance Film Festival as a complete unknown, but the 27-year Puerto Rican is leaving it an indie film star.

Rodriguez became the toast of the Sundance Film Festival's opening weekend playing the title character in new movie "Filly Brown," about a young Latina rapper struggling to keep her family together after her mom is jailed on drug charges.

When Filly gets a crack at musical stardom, she must make a choice between staying true to her poetic lyrics or accepting a deal that focuses on her sexuality but guarantees a paycheck.

Under the tutelage of Latin hip-hop record veterans Lisa "Khool-Aid" Rios and Edward "E-Dub" Rios, who served as the film's music producers, Rodriguez was so convincing as a singer that in a question-and-answer session after the film's premiere, audience members asked where they could buy her music.

The Hollywood Reporter said Rodriguez delivered a "magnetic star turn" and a "dynamic breakout performance" in a film where her screen time is split between churning out dramatic acting and rapping numerous hip-hop numbers.

With reactions and reviews like that, there can be little doubt that "Filly Brown" marks a career-making performance for Rodriguez, who last year appeared on TV soap opera "The Bold and the Beautiful" and in a supporting role in the film "Go For It!"

She told Reuters that playing Filly Brown was amazing opportunity to portray a character with whom she could identify.

"It's a powerful Latina lead, and seldom do I get the opportunity to audition for something like that," said Rodriguez. "Filly is tough, or least she uses the toughness to hide her pain sometimes, and I think we all do that."   Continued...

<p>Actress Gina Rodriguez poses for a portrait while promoting the film "Filly Brown" during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah January 22, 2012. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>