Yael Grobglas had always felt a creative urge but struggled to find her calling. She tried dancing, painting, and modeling. It wasn't until she took a bow at the end of a fashion runway, to the horror of the designer and the delight of her former director father, that a clue was finally unearthed. "My dad noticed that I liked the stage and it was something that I didn't give much thought to. He said, ‘Maybe modeling is not your thing, but you're an actress.' And I said no, and he said, 'Yeah, yeah. Just for me, just take a class.'" Shortly after she was cast as one of the leads in the sci-fi Israeli teen show The Island. "The film and TV world in Israel is incredible," Grobglas reminisces. "Obviously our budgets aren't usually as big as the ones in L.A. (because L.A. is kind of the top of the world in this industry) but the minds behind it are absolutely brilliant."
She visited Los Angeles for two weeks with no expectations and without knowing a soul. During the trip, she landed a manager based out of the city and began to submit self-tapes from her home in Israel. On another visit, she landed the lead role of America Singer in CW's adaptation of The Selection. The show was one of many dystopian young adult fiction being adapted after the success of Hunger Games. The show didn't get picked up, but she got on the CW's radar, doing a multi-episode appearance on Reign and eventually gaining the role of villainess Petra on a little show called Jane The Virgin.
Jane The Virgin centers around a girl that got accidentally artificially inseminated with her boss and childhood crush's sperm – a far cry from any normal show premise. The show was confusing to audiences leading to its premiere but once it came its writing, its heart, and humor won the world over. It also, unlike many shows, centers primarily on Jane's Latino family. "I think one of the magic things about Jane The Virgin is that it's telling a story about a girl and this group of people, I don't think it's trying to force it's opinions on anybody. It's just giving her story. It's not telling you what's wrong to do or what's right to do, it's just telling you what she does and her choices in life. I think that's really beautiful about it."
Grobglas portrays Petra, the woman who was supposed to be inseminated instead of Jane and the wife of father-to-be Rafael. As their marriage struggles, she is desperate to do anything to keep them together and steals his sperm to further her agenda. "I've always loved Petra," Grobglas confesses of the character that's poised to be the show's antagonist. "I think I admire her because, even though her choices are not the choices I would make, she's such a fighter and she won't give up and she's very strong. And what's interesting to me as an actor: because she is 'the villain,' your motivation is not necessarily to make people like her. It's more about her looking out for herself which is a whole different way of looking at a character for me." As the story unfolds, viewers learn of Petra's colored and difficult past. "She's quite lonely I think. The thing is, she's always only had her mother or a series of unfortunate relationships. I really want Petra to have a friend, just one friend. Guy or girl, doesn't matter, just a friend."
Although Petra may be the odd one out on the screen, off screen the cast and crew have become their own little family. "We're a very huggy group of people," she sheepishly admits. She finally made the move to Los Angeles from Israel after being cast on the show. In an unprecedented move, Gina Rodriguez, the lead of the new series on a small network that had only aired nine episodes, won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV Comedy. "The Golden Globe day specifically was a wild day for us. Me, Justin, and Brett, we were getting ready at my house and then we heard that we also got a second season on the same day as we were getting ready to head out to the Golden Globes, and that was just emotional overload. It was just, it was everything. It was unbelievable, but the Golden Globes specifically I think... Here's the deal. When we started, we all got the script that we loved, and then we got cast one after the other. Then we started working on this thing where we were overjoyed and happy to be there and happy to show up at work everyday and work on something we love with people we love. That's what it was, and then eventually, the show came out and we started getting this love from the critics and fans and it was such a... it's a hard thing to describe. It was such a warm feeling of like, ‘oh my god, other people love this thing that we love making so much.’ And then to keep getting these things like the Golden Globes or the AFIs, that was another reassuring step, seeing that people really like what we're making. The love from fans that we see on twitter or when we encounter fans in real life gives us extra motivation to do a really good job, and that's unbelievable," she shares. "We nearly flipped the table. We were definitely the loudest table in the Golden Globes."
See more photos from Yael's spread in Rogue's Issue 2, available in print & digital versions.
Written by Jordan Blakeman
Photography by Jonathan Marlow
Styled by Chanel Gibbons
Make-up by Alexa N. Hernandez
Hair by Kristin Heitkotter at Tracey Mattingly