After booking her star-making Jane the Virgin gig, Gina Rodriguez’s life changed forever … and it hasn’t always been a good thing. Speaking to Cosmopolitan for the February issue (she also graces the cover), the 34-year-old says she actually had her first panic attack a few years into her stardom. 

ON ANXIETY:

She says: “The anxiety stated coming, like, two years into Jane,” adding that she “had my first panic attack at a sushi restaurant. All of a sudden, I thought I was going to die, and people are taking pictures. It was horrendous.” 

She explains that being famous wasn’t everything she thought it would be. Rodriguez says: “There are a lot things in the manual of living out your dreams that you don’t know about. Like you don’t have any more friends. You never go out to eat. You never see your family, your boyfriend, girlfriend, or whatever you have.”

Rodriguez says she learned to bury her true self: “It’s interesting. As a performer, you have to quite literally bury your life … To live out your dreams is a really surreal experience.”

ON BODY IMAGE:

There's been a lot of good along with the bad though. Rodriguez says she’s thrilled to represent other versions of Hollywood perfection: “I felt very alone growing up. I didn’t feel represented. I didn’t feel a part of the conversation. And if you see yourself projected, you believe you are worthy, valuable.”

She continues: “I let go of the anxiety and the fear of not looking beautiful. Because it’s not about the picture. It’s about the fact that I stand on this cover with every Latina who wished she saw herself reflected. Because it’s not my face —it’s the 55-million-plus girls who are like, ‘Holy s—! We belong.’”

ON LOVE:

She says that her relationship with fiancé Joe LoCicero is a radical departure for her. "Dating Joe was a new experience for me because I put myself first. […] As a successful woman, it is so hard because of our cultural norms that, like, the man has to be the breadwinner! And the man has to be the more powerful one. It was so difficult for me to find a man who didn’t want me to dim my light for his ego."

Jane the Virgin returns for its final season on the CW March 27th.