Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez paid a heartfelt tribute to her TV grandmother and real-life hero, Rita Moreno, as part of the 38th annual Kennedy Center Honors.
In a clip from the ceremony, which took place Dec. 6 and airs Tuesday, Rodriguez recalls being “a 15-year-old girl from Chicago who hadn’t seen a Puerto Rican represented on screen once” until her mother introduced her to Moreno’s work.
“I met you on screen, and I just loved you,” Rodriguez says. “Your bright smile, your fierce persona, that independent voice that burst through every performance and every interview. And I just wanted to be just like Rita. You gave me hope, you gave me a reason to fight and to speak up, you gave me a voice.”
Rodriguez concludes, “You are my icon, my living legend, and what matters most, my friend. Rita, this is my love letter to you.”
Moreno, an EGOT winner who helped pave the way for Latina performers, was honored along with Carole King, George Lucas, the Eagles, Seiji Ozawa, and Cicely Tyson.
Watch the video of Rodriguez from Yahoo TV above.