The Jane the Virgin star opens up about her health struggle and breaking boundaries in Hollywood
Credit: Anthony Behar/AP

Anthony Behar/AP

Gina Rodriguez has come a long way since her break into Hollywood. And her transition wasn’t easy. The Jane the Virgin star is opening up exclusively to PeopleStyle about her battle with a thyroid disorder, and exactly what it took for her to find the courage to become the actress she is today.

“It began when I was 19 years old and I got fired, and I realized keeping my weight down was going to be much more difficult,” Rodriguez tells PeopleStyle, adding that her self-confidence began to suffer. “It was difficult for me to stay in the comfortable zone of my weight. I was very tired. My fatigue was through the roof. When everyone else was cold, I was sweating bullets.”

Soon after she was diagnosed with the illness, Rodriguez decided she wanted to make her way in Hollywood — a goal that seemed impossible with her ongoing struggle with her body. “I was like, ‘Okay I want to be an actor. I want to be a leading lady.’ But now I am being told there is no way I can because they are way skinnier, which was very destructive to me because I felt like I was getting curvy.”

Eventually, however, Rodriguez decided that Hollywood’s body-shaming stereotypes were no longer going to stand in the way of her dreams.

“For many years I had a daily conversation with myself about how I was going to help make that change,” she shares. “Because there is no way in this world things are only allotted to certain people because of their figure. There is no way that should be possible. There is no way that’s fair. There is no way that kind of limitation is going to help those that don’t fit into that box.”

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So she began turning all of her negative, self-hating thoughts into positives — and overcame her battle. “Why do we allow that voice that we get inside when we look in the mirror,” she asks. “‘Oh you look fat. Oh God the pimple! Oh my God that skin. Oh my God no one is going to love me.’ Who is that voice? I started to realize that little demon that was inside of me, and I was going to find my unicorn and I was going to let them have a conversation because that unicorn was the one that was like, ‘No, no, no. It’s just a freaking pimple. It’s just five pimples. They will go away eventually. It’s okay. Look at that smile though. Alright, so you’re curvier today. Yeah let’s work those curves.'”

Now, 12 years after her diagnosis, Rodriguez looks back at her struggle with strength and positivity — and wants women going through the same situation to succeed, just as she has.

“For women on this journey, have a conversation with yourself,” Rodriguez advises. “Recognize the voice that comes in but wants to tear down the beautiful amazing human being that you are. You know what? You are the most beautiful human being on this planet. Compared to no one. You hear what I’m saying? You are the most beautiful you. You are the best version of yourself. And when that demon comes in and says your thighs are thick, you say, ‘You know what demon? Yes they are and I am going to work them. I am going to rock the s–t out of my thick thighs and I am rocking this whole damn city with my thick thighs loving them.'”

For more from Rodriguez’s powerful interview, check out this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on stands now!

What do you think of the star’s breakthrough in the industry? Share below.

— Jillian Ruffo, with reporting by Jackie Fields