Diane Guerrero is best known as the sweet, funny, and somewhat ditzy supporting characters Maritza on Orange is the New Black and Jane’s bestie Lina on Jane the Virgin. But in May, Guerrero published a memoir, with Michelle Burford, called In the Country We Love: My Family Divided, in which the 30-year-old actress describes her experience as the American-born daughter of illegal immigrants. Now, Deadline reports, CBS has greenlit a new hour-long drama series based on the memoir called In the Country We Love, starring Guerrero herself.
Guerrero will play a corporate attorney who begins accepting pro-bono cases of undocumented immigrants when it’s revealed that her own parents were deported when she was a child. In her memoir, Guerrero recounts a similar experience: Her parents and older brother were deported back to their native Colombia when she was 14. Guerrero, who was born in New Jersey and raised in Boston, has been a vocal advocate for immigration reform since revealing her story in a 2014 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times. In 2015, she joined the inaugural group of Presidential Ambassadors for Citizenship and Naturalization.
Three Jane the Virgin producers are behind In the Country We Love (CBS owns a 50 percent stake in JtV‘s network, the CW): showrunner Jennie Snyder Urman, executive producer Ben Silverman, and co-executive producer Paul Sciarrotta. As Deadline points out, In the Country We Love is the second immigration-based drama series in development for next season: the CW has also greenlit Casa, about a group of Hispanic siblings who band together when their parents are deported.
No doubt the success of Jane the Virgin — which included a plot in its second season about Jane’s grandmother trying to become a U.S. citizen — has indicated to studio heads that stories about undocumented immigrants are not too controversial for television, nor are they marginal: This is a sadly common tale for millions of people who live in this country. Will & Grace famously helped shift Americans’ attitudes toward gay marriage; here’s hoping these series will do the same for immigration reform.