After having used the screen credit "James Roday" for years on Psych and A Million Little Pieces, Psych: The Movie 2: Lassie Come Home will be the first time the franchise's star will be credited as James Roday Rodriguez, accepting the family surname that he had avoided during his years in show business. Born James David Rodríguez, the actor went as Roday in part because he felt that being obviously Latino hurt his chances of being cast in roles. He says that he went out for the lead role in Primal Fear in the early '90s, but was instead offered a part as a gang leader. Then, he didn't ultimately get that either, because he didn't look stereotypically Latino enough for the part.
Most Psych fans knew his given name, as he didn't go out of his way to hide it, and he used his Spanish in a theme episode of the crime dramedy in which he posed as a telenovela actor. But it was the recent period of re-evaluating our culture, following the killing of George Floyd by police, that finally spurred him to close the arm's-length distance between his personality and his identity.
"We're all on our own journeys. And everyone is, hopefully, educating themselves and self-reflecting in a way that feels most efficient and actionable to them," Rodriguez told TVLine. "For me, because I've always had a bit of a strange relationship with my own heritage, I started talking to my dad in a real way, as opposed to, 'Hey, what's up? What does Christmas look like this year? Go Spurs! Or Go Titans. Or Go Cowboys.'"
Rodriguez was open with his mild embarrassment tha tit took as much as it did for him to become more reflective, but he says he's proud that he has found a way to connect with his identity and to accept himself.
"On one hand, it's unfortunate that it took the world turning upside down for that to sink in. On the other hand, it was so edifying, listening to my father talk about what it was like to be a brown person growing up in this country -- and in Texas, no less," Rodriguez explained. "Having him relay to me stories about my grandparents and their experiences in the '30s and '40s….These were not stories that were shared around the Christmas tree when I was a kid."
"I was deeply moved, but also very shaken by a lot of the stuff that I heard -- stuff that I was one or two generations removed from and never needed to reconcile or even stop and think about," he added. "It basically blew up my own relationship with my race, my sense of who I am when it comes to my relationship with that half of me. And it sent me down a road of reading and wanting to learn more about Mexican-American history and its foundation in this country. And it caused me to question a lot of the decisions that I have made as a 44-year-old man who has been working in the entertainment industry for 20 years, the biggest of which was the decision to not use my birth name when I started working professionally."Psych: The Movie 2: Lassie Come Home is now available to stream (along with the first movie and all the episodes of the TV series) on Peacock.