Why Gina Rodriguez Put Mumford & Sons on Her Birth Playlist
In the ABC sitcom “Not Dead Yet,” premiering Feb. 8, Nell Serrano is an obituary writer who, according to the subject of one of her assignments — yes, she’s visited by the dead — envies other people’s happiness.
Gina Rodriguez, who is expecting her first child, spoke with us last month, saying that she’s in a different, happier place than Nell, whom she plays, but she knows things could change at any time. “I’m learning at every single turn,” she said.
Previously the star of the CW television series “Jane the Virgin” and heard in the title role of the Netflix animated series “Carmen Sandiego,” Rodriguez shared some of the music on her birth playlist, as well as other things that have been helping her get by, including “WandaVision” and “Be Here Now.” These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
1. “WandaVision” I started watching the show during my pregnancy. At first I was like, what is this show? It’s a take on “I Love Lucy”? And then I saw that it’s all wrapped up in her grief. The power of human emotion and the unconscious decisions that we make when we’re in these spaces of love and longing and grief are just wild and awesome. Its portrayal of a human journey through the possibility of action based on an unconscious emotion is really interesting to me.
2. Ram Dass My husband discovered Ram Dass and brought him into our relationship. I find the way he viewed the world and the journey he went on to be very helpful to me. We have, like, 14 copies of his book “Be Here Now,” because it’s our No. 1 present we give people. Every time I listen to the audiobook “Becoming Nobody,” I learn something new, and I’m reminded that I fall right back into things, such as feeling like my identity is my everything and my ego gets attached to the identity.
3. Failure In my production company, we want to create a safe space for failure because it’s only in failure that you learn. And if you don’t get another chance after failure, it is such an unfortunate missed opportunity for growth. When you have a space where you can fail, you do better, you get stronger and you say, “OK, I’m not going to do it like this, I’m going to try it like this. Or that path didn’t work, let’s try this next path.”
4. “The Dawn of Everything” I have always been interested in the history of humankind. It’s so interesting that every time we personify people of the past, they’re not as intelligent and not as civilized. I picked up David Graeber and David Wengrow’s “The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity” on a Barnes & Noble shopping spree. It’s riveting. It presents such an interesting perspective on the history of humanity, and it makes me think about everything just a little bit more.
5. Bidet When we remodeled our home, we had a combination toilet/bidet put in our primary bedroom. It is a game changer. When we go overseas and the bidet is a separate unit, I’m like, this is fabulous. It should be like this everywhere.
6. “My Brilliant Friend” After we shot “Annihilation,” Natalie Portman gave me Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels series as a wrap gift. I have read each of them multiple times. Starting with “My Brilliant Friend,” they are the most whisk-you-away, escape-into-another-person’s-world books. I love them so much. It was the best wrap gift I’ve ever gotten. And I always think about Natalie when I read them.
7. Mumford & Sons I have a playlist of songs to listen to when I give birth. Several Mumford & Sons songs are on the playlist, including “Little Lion Man,” “Awake My Soul” and “I Will Wait.” They sing like they’re connected to the center of the universe. It makes me feel a sense of closeness to my ancestors, even though it’s not the kind of music my ancestors listened to. There’s just a spirituality to their music. Whether they were writing that or not, that’s what I respond to.
8. Bad Bunny My fellow Puerto Rican artist is definitely the music of my ancestors. I think he is super innovative. He’s been able to introduce styles of music, such as merengue, that haven’t been popular in the United States. Bad Bunny makes me feel every nostalgia under the sun of my childhood. And I just think he’s super, super talented.
9. Oregon After we started visiting friends in Bend, we fell in love with Oregon, which is now our second home. We try and spend half the year there. It’s such a beautiful state. There are so many different climates and things to see — the mountains, the coast, the woods. I saw my first owl in Oregon. I grew up in Chicago and Puerto Rico. We weren’t seeing owls.
10. Oahu Hawaii feels like home. It feels like Puerto Rico. There is a oneness of Mother Nature there that feels like the center of the forest, but it’s beach, and it’s jungle, and it’s water and ocean. Oddly, you find a lot of people who vacation in Hawaii in Oregon, and vice versa. They feel like polar opposites, but they tend to draw people with the same kind of yearning for Mother Nature.