Who’s That Guy? ‘Jane The Virgin’s’ Justin Baldoni On New Character, Past Gay Roles

Justin Baldoni as Rafael Solano (CW)

If you’ve had a chance to check out the new CW series,  “Jane The Virgin,”  then you might have looked at actor Justin Baldoni and asked “who’s that guy?”

We’ve seen Baldoni before on series like “Everwood,” “Single Ladies and “Happy Endings” but he’s making a big splash as Rafael Solano, the owner of a swanky Miami hotel is at a crossroads in his life after dealing with cancer. He no longer wants to be motivated by money and he’s pretty sure his marriage with his high-society loving wife Petra (Yael Grobglas) is over but when a young girl named Jane (Gina Rodriguez) enters his life (and accidentally gets inseminated with the sperm that was meant for Petra), his life gets more complicated but, also, maybe more clear. (He also wears the hell out of the snug dress shirts they put him in on the show…just sayin’!)

I grabbed a few minutes with Baldoni recently to talk about the new series and some of the gay roles in his past. He also talked about his production company and why its vision is as uplifting and fulfilling about life as the message we get in "Jane The Virgin." (The series also has more than a few gay characters and I'll be profiling them in the coming weeks.)

How do you feel about the character and where he’s going to go?

Justin Baldoni: I love Rafael. I think Rafael is written brilliantly. What you see is a guy who’s struggling and he’s really torn between two worlds. He’s got this hotel and it’s his first hotel so there’s a lot of pressure and he’s a cancer survivor so it really had caused him to really change his perspective on life.

So when you meet Rafael, he's at this in-between state with everything in his life. He's nervous about his hotel and he knows he's not happy with his wife and he wants a divorce. What's interesting about Rafael, though, is that everything is happening to him so he and Jane are on very similar paths. Everything is happening to Rafael so he's in this constant state of 'wait?! what?!' His wife is doing all these things and all he's doing is trying to find happiness and maybe it shows up in this wonderful accident with Jane and his only chance to be a father.

Talk about his marriage with Petra, who seems like she's going to be the villain of the show. What has kept them together this long?

JB: He and Petra really were in love but through cancer I think he realized he wanted something different. People grow, people grow apart and cancer…I’ve had a very in-depth and personal experience with cancer and it really causes a perspective shift. It wipes the slate clean and really makes you open your eyes and something’s in front of you that you don’t want to be there. It’s really tough but the cancer is what kept them together, I have to say.

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I have to say I like that Rafael is excited about this baby that’s coming.

JB: He really is excited. It’s his only chance at having a child. He had one sperm sample! One! What an amazing coincidence that it gets injected into an old fling who is opposite of his wife, who doesn’t come from money, who doesn’t care about that stuff. It’s pretty amazing. I love it. It’s good TV and it also has heart.

You were on “Happy Endings” as one of the guys Max dated…

I had a very quick moment on “Happy Endings.”

Gay or not? Bardoni as Reid in the final season of "Everwood"

People love the show and for gay viewers, we watched everyone that Max hooked up with. Did you suddenly find that a gay audience was responding to you after that?

Well, I played a gay character on "Single Ladies," as well and I realized I had more fans from that. Also, with my character on "Everwood," the joke was that they thought I was gay so I have always played gay friendly characters.

Talk to me about social media and your place in that world.

I am! I have a production company where we create socially conscious media and content. I left acting for a couple of years and I traveled around the country telling people's stories that were dying. We started Wayfarer Entertainment to create content that we felt could actually inspire people to be the best version of themselves. We take life for granted so often and we don't realize that tomorrow isn't guaranteed.

There's a quote I love, "My calamity is my providence, outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy." It's the understanding that these bad things that happen to us aren't really bad things. If you shift your perspective and look for the good and the reason why it becomes a lesson and it actually becomes assistance and a push in the right direction.

“Jane The Virgin” airs Mondays at 9pm on the CW. 

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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