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Gown worn by ‘Jane the Virgin’ star reprises its role at South Buffalo girl’s prom

There are a lot of young women – wearing a lot of long, formal gowns – attending proms across Western New York this spring.

They are all, of course, beautiful.

But it’s a good bet none of those teens has a story connected with her fancy dress equal to that of Jessica Casanova of South Buffalo.

Casanova, 17, wore a dress to her prom Thursday night that wasn’t just long, black and sparkly.

It was famous.

The frock – strapless, with a swirling, flaring hem – came to Casanova from actress Gina Rodriguez, star of the popular TV show “Jane the Virgin.”

“Crazy,” said Casanova, at the top of the staircase in her home on Spaulding Street in the city, moments before she walked down the steps in the dress, which had previously been worn by Rodriguez at a recent Golden Globes event.

“It gives me chills,” she said.

Casanova, who is graduating from the Charter School for Applied Technologies in Buffalo this spring and will attend Trocaire College to study pediatric nursing later this summer, departed from home in the glamorous gown with her date, Nathan Cohen, 20, a sophomore at Erie Community College studying business.

She completed her prom look with some Western New York touches – sparkly dangling earrings and strappy sandals, which Casanova said were bought at a local mall and department store.

“Beautiful,” said Cohen, on seeing Jessica in the dress. “Stunning.”

The actress won a Golden Globe award last year for her starring role on the TV show.

The couple left Thursday by white limousine, bound for the Pearl Street Grill in downtown Buffalo, where students from the charter school were set to have their prom night.

“I feel very proud, you know,” said Michelle Martinez, Casanova’s mother, after her daughter left home, wearing the dress.

“She deserves it,” she said of Casanova.

Martinez said her daughter earns good grades in school. She also said Jessica will begin her work at Trocaire in July.

The way the midnight-black gown came into Casanova’s hands is a modern tale – one with a twist of luck.

According to Casanova, she had connected with Rodriguez on social media after becoming a fan of her television show. She had tweeted messages at the actress a few times about the show.

She said Rodriguez is very approachable on social media.

Around January of this year, Casanova said, she tweeted out a comment mentioning the actress’s dress – and saying she would love to wear it for her prom.

“I don’t know what made me do it,” she said.

Then Casanova supplied contact info, and the dress was sent to her.

“I got chills,” she said, of trying it on.

As she came down the steps in Rodriguez’s gown Thursday, Casanova said it felt like a natural.

“It feels really good,” she said. “It fits like a glove.”

Gathered at Casanova’s two-story house in South Buffalo for the big prom night were family members, friends and media.

The couple donned flowers before they left – A white rose boutonniere for Cohen, and a wrist corsage for Casanova, which had white roses and jet-black beads.

Casanova said the part of prom she was most looking forward to was enjoying the event with Cohen.

Martinez, Jessica’s mom, said her daughter “follows a lot of celebrities on Twitter.”

Martinez, speaking of the TV show that Rodriguez stars in, “Jane the Virgin,” said that the way her character is on the show might be part of why her daughter has connected with the series.

“She’s a strong woman,” said Martinez. “And that’s the way my daughter is.”

Martinez said her daughter painted a picture of the actress, and plans to send the image to her.

She said that the night her daughter heard from Rodriguez about the gown was a thrilling one.

“She was so happy and excited,” said Martinez.

email: cvogel@buffnews.com