Gina Rodriguezwas in the entertainment business for a decade before landing her dream role on “Jane the Virgin,” an experience she knows many actors face when starting out their careers. But the 33-year-old knows that if it weren’t for her education, she might have never made it anywhere.
Rodriguez, who is set to voice Mary in Sony’s animated nativity film called “The Star,” opened up about her struggle to break through in the industry during a Monday interview with HuffPost onBuild Series ― before getting a pleasant surprise.
She discovered her NYU Tisch School of the Arts acting teacher, Rosemary Quinn, seated in the audience for the Q&A. Rodriguez couldn’t help but get teary-eyed as she thanked Quinn for providing the “tool belt” she needed to succeed in Hollywood.
“This woman changed my life, y’all,” she said, holding back tears. “Education. Rosemary Quinn is the best. You want to be an actress? Learn from that woman, because she will change your life, clearly. Thank you, Rosemary. I can never thank you enough.”
After the full-circle moment, Rodriguez took time out of her busy schedule to crash Quinn’s classroom and surprise unsuspecting students. She shared a clip of the amazing moment on Twitter:
We’re sure she reiterated exactly what she told the audience at Build Series ― that is, to never give up on your dreams no matter how hard it gets.
“All the dreams that I made when I was in that place [NYU], all the goals I set, I’m only now living,” she said. “So, here’s a testament to going after what you love, because as a 33-year-old woman who wanted to be an actress before she graduated college, who said she was going to be ‘discovered’ before she graduated college, that did not happen. But what else didn’t happen was I didn’t give up, I didn’t stop and I’m not going to stop, because I’m nowhere near the kind of dreams that I now have created because I was able to see the other ones through.”
Watch Gina’s full Build Series interview below, and check out “The Star” in theaters Nov. 17.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.