'Jane the Virgin' Star Jaime Camil's Immigrant Story: 'I Got Very Lucky'

"I had to be patient," Jaime Camil says of the years he spent attempting to find success in English-speaking roles

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Jaime Camil always dreamed of being a performer.

Born in Mexico City to Brazilian singer Cecilia Saldaña da Gama and Mexican billionaire Jaime Camil Garza, the Jane the Virgin star grew up dreaming of being a performer like his mother.

He hoped to study at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, but his father told him he needed a “real career” instead.

“He wanted me to pursue anything but a career in entertainment,” Camil, 43, says in the current issue of PEOPLE about his dad .

After getting a business degree, Camil became a radio and television host in Mexico as he pursued singing.

“I started to act to help my music career,” says Camil, who found unprecedented success in 2006 as the male lead in La Fea Más Bella, the Mexican version of the Colombian telenovela that inspired Ugly Betty.

“I think the universe was saying, ‘You should really go that way,'” he says of devoting himself to acting. “Thank God I listened to the message.”

“Of course” Camil always dreamed of Hollywood stardom, but “I had to be patient,” the actor says of the years he spent attempting to find success in English-speaking roles.

“I could say, ‘I was on two of the highest-rated novelas,’ and studio execs would go, ‘Eh, I don’t really watch Latino networks,’ ” he says. “There’s so much talent with a massive fan base that they are missing out on.”

  • For more from Jaime Camil, including why he says Hollywood has a “responsibility” to portray a diverse America, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now

But he finally found the right project — well, actually three — to introduce him to English audiences.

“I had three projects all come together at once,” says Camil, who is a married father of two. “There was a little pressure to go with a show on another network, but ultimately I knew Jane was the right choice.”

“It’s just a show about humans who happen to be Latino,” says Camil, who stars as Rogelio, the telenovela star dad of Jane (Gina Rodriguez). “I think it’s great that we’re showing Latinos as who they are, which is normal middle-class people just like almost everyone else in this country.”

Jane the Virgin airs Mondays (9 p.m. ET) on the CW.

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