The Hollywood Reporter revealed Tuesday that Gina Rodriguez, the star of Jane the Virgin, has given away her Emmy Awards campaign money. Rodriguez put her allowance, which was provided by CBS TV Studios for a For Your Consideration campaign, toward a scholarship for an undocumented high school student instead, coordinating with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles to find a young woman accepted by Princeton University “who’ll now be able to complete all four years without financial burden.”
The estimated cost to attend Princeton for a single year is $70,010, so while we don’t know exactly how much money Rodriguez gave away, it’s safe to assume it was substantial. “It’s taboo to talk about the money being spent, but it’s the reality,” Rodriguez told the Reporter. “I think sharing this might inspire other people to do something similar.”
This is certainly a compassionate use of the money, and one that is on brand for both the show, which has prominently featured storylines about both citizenship and the cost of education, and for Rodriguez herself. But it would be a disservice to Rodriguez to simplify the donation as a wholly selfless act when it is also a radical rejection of the way actors and networks are expected to compete for awards. As she herself said: “You can desire recognition and, at the same time, decide to not play in the confines of the game as it’s set up.”
Rodriguez, who has never been nominated for an Emmy before, has smartly subverted the expectation that she should spend inordinate amounts of money just to be considered for a trophy—while simultaneously ensuring, with her charitable contribution, that her name will be at the forefront of Emmy voters’ minds. Instead of running a FYC campaign that could get lost alongside countless others, Rodriguez has managed to put the money to good use in a way that brings her plenty of free publicity. Just look at these headlines:
• Gina Rodriguez Funds College Scholarship for Latinx Student With Emmy Money (Hollywood Reporter)
• Gina Rodriguez Is Using Her 2018 Emmy Campaign Money to Send an Undocumented Student to College (The Verge)
• Gina Rodriguez Sent an Undocumented Student to College With Her Jane the Virgin Emmys Campaign Money (Mashable)
That’s money well spent.