"Inspiring others is all I wanted to do this for," said Rodriguez

Credit: Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

Gina Rodriguez, star of The CW’s Jane the Virgin, is calling her surprise Golden Globe nomination a dream come true.

Not only did The CW grab its first-ever nominations on Wednesday, but they came to the network thanks to a Latina in the lead. The freshman series was nominated for both best comedy series (alongside such heavy-hitters as Orange is the New Black and Girls) and for best actress in a comedy series – who was Rodriguez, in the title role).

“Everything was pointing towards this not happening,” Rodriguez told BuzzFeed News. “To succeed, to strive, to rise above, to fight harder, to be more ambitious … means that I can now say – not just to Latinos, but to everyone – that all the odds were against me, but hard work and dedication and perseverance and being good to people does win. It does matter. Cream does rise to the top.

Born in Chicago, Rodriguez, 30, is of Puerto Rican descent. She revealed to BuzzFeed that she feels “empowered” by the recognition from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. “If I can do it, that means there are so many other people who are going to be able to do it. I opened the floodgates.”

She added: “It’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re going.”

Invoking Ferguson and the Eric Garner case, Rodriguez hopes that her nomination – and Viola Davis‘s nomination for How to Get Away with Murder – will help to “[shape] people’s minds to become more tolerant of that which they do not know about.”

Rodriguez also notes that “This quote-unquote risk of having a beautiful brown girl as a lead is not a risk at all, because I think the viewers and advertisers and the networks are starting to see we do desire that, we long for it, we connect to it, and we need it.”

“We need role models,” she added. “Choosing to expose certain communities to these stories is going to create more tolerance, it’s going to create more acceptance, and it’s going to inspire our youth.”

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