Rita Moreno’s guest-starring turn Monday on Jane the Virgin represented a tribute from the comedy’s young Latina star, Gina Rodriguez, to the trailblazer who helped pave her way.
“I was approached because of Gina,” Moreno told The Associated Press. “She told me some wonderful things about how I inspired her, great stuff that made me feel very proud.”
Looking back, Moreno, 83, marvels at the stage, screen and TV career that made a “little Puerto Rican girl” one of the rare performers to win the supersized awards combo: Oscar, Tony, Grammy and Emmy trophies.
She’s pleased to see evolution in the entertainment industry that has led to shows including CW’s Jane The Virgin, focused on a Latino family.
“There’s actually a lot of progress. I don’t think it’s enough but, my God, when you compare that to when I was a young woman in movies, it’s totally different,” Moreno said.
Her guest-role part on CW’s riff on telenovelas proved a delight for Moreno: an imperious woman, who sweeps heedlessly into the lives of her son, TV star Rogelio (Jaime Camil), and Xiomara (Andrea Navedo), Jane’s parents.
“She is a real diva, a rude woman who spouts off mean things to people,” Moreno said, delight in her voice. “When she comes on the scene, you find out that Rogelio is a real mama’s boy.”
The character doesn’t have a warm relationship with Xiomara, Moreno said, and for “such a hilarious reason. I don’t want to give it away because it’s silly and funny. But in telenovelas, anything can happen.”
The star’s focus now is on her as-yet untitled upcoming album, her first in more than two decades. Emilio Estefan is the producer.
“The compliment is I still have a voice,” Moreno said, describing the album as an eclectic mix that includes “some really terrific salsa numbers,” a jazzy version of Brazil and Somewhere from West Side Story.