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Meet Nikki Rodriguez, Netflix’s Subsequent Large YA Star

How do you go from enjoying the powerful teen girlfriend of a South Central gang member to the tender sweetheart of two Colorado highschool brothers? When you’re Nikki Rodriguez—who snagged the starring function of Jackie Howard within the new YA drama sequence My Life With The Walter Boys after briefly showing within the closing season of the Gen Z comedy On My Block—it’s about discovering commonality with the fabric. “I might say there’s somewhat little bit of each characters in my very own character,” Rodriguez says. “I actually attempt to spotlight the traits of every that I align with.”

For Rodriguez’s newest function, the connection was deep. Within the coming-of-age story tailored by govt producer Melanie Halsall from Ali Novak’s novel of the identical title, she portrays a complicated, formidable 15-year-old Manhattan excessive schooler whose life is all of a sudden upended when her household is killed in a automotive accident.

“I’ve been by myself from a younger age, and I suppose that’s most likely what actually drew me to Jackie,” the guarded actress tells V.F. “I didn’t develop up in a typical household dynamic….[and] I do know precisely what it seems like…having to juggle all these challenges of rising up and the way onerous that may be. I actually needed to learn to be robust and impartial early on and never depend on anyone, and that’s lots like Jackie.”

Nikki Rodriguez and Noah LaLonde.Courtesy of Netflix.

The petite twentysomething performer (she’s loath to disclose her actual age) is an solely youngster who was raised largely by her British-German mom in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and moved to L.A. solo straight out of faculty to review performing after a trial run, accompanied by her Mexican dad, when she was 15.

“My household died…and no one is aware of what to say to you when that occurs,” the often stoic Jackie tells her new faculty steering counselor Tara (Ashley Tavares) within the first episode, after the grieving tenth-grader has been despatched to stay along with her fashion-designer mom’s veterinarian finest buddy, Dr. Katherine Walter (Sarah Rafferty, late of Fits). Her new guardian is mom to a brood of ten (together with one daughter and a pair of nephews), residing along with her rancher husband George (Marc Blucas) in rural Colorado. There, Jackie should navigate a totally new life—and the sophisticated emotions she develops for 2 of the Walter brothers.

Broody and charismatic Cole (Noah LaLonde)—whom we meet exiting a swimming pool in gradual movement—is the city’s highschool soccer star and woman magnet, although his quarterback days are over resulting from an accident that’s completely broken his leg. His candy and geeky one-year-younger brother Alex (Ashby Gentry) loves books (he’s rereading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring), video video games, and using horses—and he rapidly catches emotions for Jackie.

Rodriguez’s successful efficiency because the grieving teen caught up in a romantic triangle—and stymied by a brand new faculty that doesn’t supply sufficient AP lessons—was additional aided by how comparable the actor is to her alter ego. Each of them have a Sort-A, overachiever vibe—although “I’m rather less emotionally introverted,” she says, and “are likely to put on my coronary heart on my sleeve, the place she typically doesn’t.”