Gina Rodriguez: 'I don't think standing up for myself for equal pay is complaining'

Actress Gina Rodriguez attends The 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

(CNN)Gina Rodriguez has developed something of a sterling reputation in the three years since she broke out thanks to her role in CW's critically acclaimed "Jane the Virgin."

Between her heartfelt acceptance speeches about her humble upbringing, her messages about equality and body positivity, and the anecdotes about her giving nature, she's one of the industry's brightest young stars.
But this Hollywood's good girl is also not one to shy away from a fight -- especially if its for equal pay.
She admits it took some time for her to get to this point.
    "I was just so grateful when I had the opportunity to do what I loved that I never once stopped to complain that I wasn't getting paid as much as my fellow co-stars or male counterparts," Rodriguez told CNN in a recent interview. "I realized that I was afraid to make problems for anyone... I didn't want to get on anyone's bad side and I wanted to be the actress who was easy to work with and didn't complain."
    As much as she aims to be a good person in life, Rodriguez said she realized that gratefulness and asking for what you deserve aren't mutually exclusive.
    "I don't think standing up for myself for equal pay is complaining or something I should be afraid of," she said.
    So Rodriguez has partnered with LUNA bars to raise awareness and funds for LeanIn.Org's #20percentcounts campaign.
    The company also plans to make a donation to the American Association of University Women's (AAUW) salary negotiation workshops.
    In 2015, American women working full time were, on average, paid 80% of what men were paid, according to stats from AAUW.
    "The gender pay gap does exist, and I'm sure there are other women out there who are just so appreciative [that they get to] do what they love and just so appreciative of being able to care for their family or so appreciative of just having a job that having the conversation is terrifying," Rodriguez said.
    But, she said, "it's a scary conversation that needs to be had."
    "Even though I don't know what the answers are, I'm willing to start looking for them," Rodriguez said. "And I'm willing to be open to other women that may have answers that I don't know."
    Rodriguez said she's utilized the AAUW's resources herself since learning more about the issue "because I realized I need it."
    In Hollywood, the gender pay disparity remains a frequent area of discussion.
    Based on Forbes' 2016 list of highest paid actors and actresses, the top 10 male earners made a combined $488 million. That's more than double what the top female earners received: $205 million.
    Rodriguez praised women like Jennifer Lawrence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Meryl Streep and Mila Kunis for voicing their experiences with the pay gap and fighting back against it.
    "They gave a voice to me," she said.
    She added: "I'm just another person trying. That is literally all we can do."