From the arts to activism, here are five Latina Woman that are making strides, breaking boundaries and that you should be paying attention to.
Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez
Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez is an American labor organizer and author. On August 12, 2019, Ramirez announced her intention to challenge incumbent United States Senator John Cornyn in the 2020 United States Senate election in Texas. Tzintzún began organizing with Latino immigrant workers in 2000 in Columbus, Ohio, and then moved to Texas. At graduating from University of Texas, Austin, she helped establish the Workers Defense Project (WDP), serving as its executive director from 2006 to 2016. Following the 2016 election, Ramirez launched Jolt, an organization that works to increase Latino voter turnout. Her bid for the Senate has been endorsed by New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Texas representative Joaquin Castro, and actor Alec Baldwin.
A rising star in the male-dominated world of urbano (Ozuna, J Balvin, Bad Bunny), Mariah Angeliq, who goes simply by her first name, is here to prove that the girls can be bosses, too. On debut single “Blah,” the Miami-born and raised singer of Puerto Rican and Cuban descent lets the men know that their money (and their bragging) don’t impress her much, while her latest track “Perreito” is dripping with swag as she boasts about stealing the show with her flow as the one that shoots and never fails.
Lineisy Montero Feliz
Lineisy Montero Feliz is Dominican model known for her work with Prada. She is also known for her natural Afro hair. She currently ranks as one of the “Top 50” models in the fashion industry by models.com, including Balenciaga, Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Roberto Cavalli, Versace and Céline.
Rico Nasty is one of the leading voices in the current style of hip-hop that adopts elements from hardcore and punk rock. Rico released a new song in January titled “IDGAF;” it’s built around softly echoing electric piano sounds and finds the DMV rapper in melodious sing-song mode.
The singer announced the summer launch of her cosmetics company, Rare Beauty, via Instagram on Feb. 4. The cosmetics company shares a title with her most recent album of the same name.
“Guys, I’ve been working on this special project for two years and can officially say Rare Beauty is launching in @sephora stores in North America this summer,” she captioned in the Instagram video.
“I think Rare Beauty can be more than a beauty brand,” the singer says in the video. “I want us all to stop comparing ourselves to each other and start embracing our own uniqueness. You’re not defined by a photo, a like, or a comment. Rare Beauty isn’t about how other people see you. It’s about how you see yourself.”
Our Latinx community is full of talent. From musicians to writers, and everything in between, Latinx are creative minds that continue thriving in their spaces while opening paths to their audiences to do the same.
It is a fruitful cycle that will only continue to ignite our upcoming talents — and in this case, we see it exemplified through the experience of Florida-born and Bolivian author Isabel Ibañez.
Ibañez made her debut in the publishing world last year, with her book Woven in Moonlight, which TIME categorized 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time, praising “every detail is rich with meaning and nuance.”
The wave of praise she received for her second book, Written in Starlight, which just came out this month, is much more than anticipated. As a result, we had
(Photo courtesy of Isabel Ibañez)
to dig into Ibañez’s mind to see what and how this author embraces in her Latinx roots, what inspirations she gives to upcoming authors, and of course, how she is staying creative during this pandemic.
Here’s what she had to say!
Tell us about yourself and how your Bolivian roots inspired you both as a writer and in your newest work, Written in Starlight.
Both my books draw from my personal experience of growing up in Bolivia, where most of my family lives. To me, Bolivia is a vibrant and colorful place, with delicious food and incredible art, deeply rooted in artisanal crafting and weaving. Writing about a place I love so much felt natural to me — because my upbringing really shaped me to embrace all aspects of my heritage.
This story is particularly special to me, as it’s primarily inspired by my father and where he was born and raised — the Bolivian Amazon. This book is filled with the foods he ate, what his home looked like, even the bamboo stalks he slept on. It has the river that runs like veins through his pueblo, and where he traveled by canoe.
Written In Starlight also features a lost city — Paititi — that was once thought to be in Bolivia. I’ve always been fascinated by this legend, and I think the last known explorer to go searching for it went into the Bolivian Amazon in 1997, and he never came back out. I don’t know if this city will ever be found and where, but it felt like the perfect home for the Illari, who were largely inspired by Andean peoples in the Bolivian region who were conquered and displaced by the Incas.
“Latinos have been left out of the representation of American culture,” says U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, who hopes the effort will correct their depiction.
Mexican American filmmaker Gregory Nava’s 1997 movie “Selena” has been nominated for inclusion in the National Film Registry by members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus as the group ramps up its efforts to eradicate “the film industry’s continued exclusion of Latinos,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, in a letter to Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden on Friday.
“Selena is an American icon and she’s so celebrated within the Latino community,” Castro, who is also the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, told NBC News. “I think part of the affirmation of that was, not only the success of the film but also the recent success of the television series.”
The film starring Jennifer Lopez depicts the life, remarkable rise, and tragic death of Tejano music legend Selena Quintanilla. The film also touches on important themes of cultural identity and assimilation faced by Mexican American communities as they navigate their personal connections between two cultures and languages.
“Given its importance as a work of Latino cinema, we believe it is deserving of preservation at the Library of Congress,” Castro’s letter to Hayden reads. “We trust you will give Selena careful consideration, and hope to see it included in the titles added to the National Film Registry in 2021.”
The former curator at the Louvre in Paris will take on the task of reinvigorating the struggling museum, which has been closed for renovations since 2017.
Guillaume Kientz, a Velázquez and El Greco expert and former curator at the Louvre in Paris, has been named director and chief executive of the Hispanic Society Museum & Library in New York, which boasts one of the world’s greatest collections of Spanish art and literature but has faced financial struggles and has been closed
(Image credit – Robert LaPrelle/The New York Times)
since 2017 for renovations.
“The Hispanic Society Museum & Library is on the cusp of transformation physically and intellectually,” Mr. Kientz said in an interview on Wednesday. “And now is the perfect time to rethink and rebuild the museum.”
Mr. Kientz succeeds Mitchell Codding, who retired on Sept. 30 after directing the organization for 25 years. Margaret Connors McQuade, the society’s assistant director and curator of decorative arts, had been serving as acting director.
The museum and reference library, which was founded in 1904 by the philanthropist Archer M. Huntington, has long struggled to raise its profile and better connect with its mainly Latino neighborhood in Washington Heights. Though the collection of roughly 750,000 paintings, manuscripts and other objects primarily celebrates art from Spain and Portugal and includes work by El Greco, Velázquez and Goya, the name suggests a connection to Latin America.
“Interestingly, the character of Anita became my role model after all those years,” said the Puerto-Rican actress and Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony recipient.
In the past decade or so, Rita Moreno has received multiple lifetime achievement awards and would probably receive even more — except that she’s too busy working.
The actress, who turns 89 on Dec. 11, is one of the few people to win an EGOT: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. She’s also received the 2004 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the 2009 National Medal of Arts, the 2013 SAG Life Achievement Award, Kennedy Center Honors in 2015, and a Peabody Career Achievement in 2019, to name a few.
(Image credit – Herbert Dorfma/NBC News)
But she has no intention of resting on her laurels. In “Rita Moreno: A Memoir,” she expresses frustration at not working more. “I still feel that way!” she told Variety shortly after the book came out in 2013. She is always busy; if it’s not film, “I do theater, I do television, concerts, I do talks, lectures I do a lot of fundraising as a performer.”
Her 70-year career covers the spectrum of entertainment, including radio, theater, basic-cable, movies (both under the studio system and in the indie world), and now streaming.
Are you still supporting diverse businesses this holiday season? Here are some gift ideas from Latinx-owned brands.
You might be hoping 2020 and all of its problems will disappear come the new year, and you wouldn’t be alone. While some things are starting to look up (we see you, coronavirus vaccine), we still have a lot of work to do for a more equitable society.
Supporting marginalized communities and voices of color shouldn’t be a one-time thing. It’s important to continue educating ourselves and others through reading books about anti-racism and activism, donating to organizations that support BIPOC, women and queer folks, and by supporting Latinx-owned businesses.
This holiday season, continue supporting Latinx-owned businesses and brands while checking off a few gifts from your holiday shopping list. After all, where you choose to
(Image credit – society6)
spend your money can make a powerful statement, and perhaps you’ll inspire the person who gets your gift to do the same.
For inspo, there are plenty of Latinx-owned jewelry brands on Etsy if you’re looking to give the gift of glamour. We’ve also found prints and paintings by Latinx artists and books by Latinx authors that are perfect for the creatives in your life.
Visit HuffPost to see the 15 best gift ideas from Latinx-Owned Brands.
Bad Bunny made a major stride for Spanish-language music this week.
The Puerto Rican rapper’s newest album, El Ultimo Tour del Mundo, debuted atop the Billboard 200 albums chart. Not only does the feat mark Bad Bunny’s first number-one LP, but the album also breaks ground as the first all-Spanish-language album in the chart’s history to go No. 1.
According to Billboard, who broke the news Sunday (December 6), Bad Bunny’s newest offering pushed 116,000 equivalent album units in the United States in the week ending December 3. Not to mention, Bad Bunny’s other
Photo credit: The Guardian, Photograph: Stillz/Press
2020 effort, YHLQMDLG, which debuted and peaked at No. 2 on the charts earlier this year, set the bar as the highest-charting all-Spanish-language project with 179,000 units earned in its first week.
With his latest chart accomplish, Bad Bunny joins the shortlist of artists with an all-Spanish-language album to enter the top five, alongside Mana’s Amar es Combatir (No. 4 in September 2006) and Shakira’s Fijación Oral: Vol. 1 (No. 4 in June 2005). Overall, Bad Bunny has earned five top 10 albums on the Billboard 200 chart including Oasis (No. 9 in July 2019), YHLQMDLG (No. 2 in March 2020), Las Que No Iban a Salir (No. 7 in May 2020), and now, El Ultimo Tour del Mundo.
Bad Bunny’s number-one album achievement comes weeks after the superstar fell ill with coronavirus in late November. Weeks after, the 26-year-old shared an update on his health while appearing on The Late Late Show. “I feel great. Thank God,” the star said on the December 2 broadcast. “I tested negative and I’m so happy. I feel perfect.”
Selena’s musical journey brought her closer to her family’s Mexican roots, an “empowering” message for the younger generation, says actress Seidy Lopez, who plays Selena’s mother.
Even 25 years after her death, the life and musical legacy of the Grammy-winning Tejana singer Selena Quintanilla remains influential and relevant. A widely anticipated Netflix show “Selena: The Series,” which premieres Friday, seeks to amplify the life of the beloved Queen of Tejano, beyond just her musical journey.
Natalia Mantini for The New York Times
The new show is at its core a story about the Quintanillas, a tight-knit Mexican American family from South Texas striving for a better life while also overcoming the struggles Latinos face in the entertainment industry.
The first part of “Selena: The Series” is not only a celebration of the singer’s life, starting from her birth in Lake Jackson, Texas, in 1971 until the release of her second studio album, “Ven Conmigo” in 1990. It’s also a celebration of navigating life as a young American of Latino heritage.
“Selena didn’t know Spanish when she started singing. When she started performing in Mexico is when she realized that she had to go back to her roots and embrace the language, embrace the culture, understand more about who she was and where she came from,” said Seidy Lopez, a Mexico native who plays Marcella, Selena’s mother. “She explored that as she was growing as an artist, as she was growing as a woman. And I hope that this next generation gets to see that and that they bring it into their own experience because it’s very empowering.”
“Sí se puede” is a powerful phrase that was coined by labor activist Dolores Huerta, who pushed for better working conditions and rights for farmworkers.
(It was also used as an empowering chant by a group of Latina cheerleaders in the Disney Channel Original Movie, Gotta Kick it Up! featuring award-winning actress America Ferrera).
Today, the phrase continues to serve as an empowering message for Latinas in the form of a new nonpartisan digital community platform known as “She Se Puede” (with a particular emphasis on the word, “she”).
She Se Puede—launched by actress-activists Eva Longoria Baston and America Ferrera, and a group of passionate Latina leaders—aims to empower Latinas “to realize and act on their own power.”
The platform gives Latinas an opportunity to celebrate their impact and achievements, connect with community resources, and be inspired by diverse lifestyle content highlighting Latinas.
“America and I worked with Dolores for decades and we just wanted to have her blessings because there’s such history in ‘Sí se puede,'” Eva told GMA.
“It was birthed from me and America and Zoe Saldana, and we were all campaigning in Florida, advocating for yet another candidate on a stage, giving talking points and we were going, ‘Why aren’t we advocating for ourselves? Where’s the community? And not only of Latinos, but specifically of Latinas,'” Eva said.
Too often, Latinas are underrepresented in entertainment, government, and other aspects of society. Their voices are often excluded from the narrative, which is why the idea for “She Se Puede” came into conception to embolden and inspire Latinas to trust in their power.
“Unless and until we believe in our own potential and realize our own power, we will remain underrepresented as a political and cultural force,” said America Ferrera.
The goal for “She Se Puede” is to build a unique digital community and lifestyle platform “for Latinas, by Latinas” by publishing relatable and inspiring, everyday lifestyle content ranging from health, food parenting, beauty, to civic engagement. It’s also an opportunity to help provide Latinas with the tools they need to own their power.
Eva and America have both encouraged Latinas to share their “She Se Puede” moments on social media to engage and inspire a growing and close-knit Latina community where women see themselves reflected through everyday, raw moments.
Eva recently shared a Facebook photo of herself breastfeeding her son while working on set as a director. Eva posted, “This is my She Se Puede moment! This [photograph] was taken when I was directing right after my son was born. Breastfeeding on set, pumping milk on my breaks, and directing a television show was challenging. But I did it! And I knew I could because we (Latinas) can accomplish anything! Follow @she_sepuede and celebrate a moment you’re proud of with #shesepuede for a chance to be featured.”
In September—just a few weeks before the presidential election—She Se Puede posted a call out on Instagram encouraging Latinas interested to join the “She Se Puede Power Squad.” It was part of an effort to encourage Latinas from across the country to step up and transform their lives, communities, and country by acting as community ambassadors.
For Eva, the platform is very much an empowering state of mind for Latinas:
“So when we say empowerment, we mean we want Latinas to feel empowered in everything that they do, from their careers, to their workouts, to what food they eat, and even how they can request their mail-in ballot,” said Eva.
The digital platform was officially created by a team of Latina leaders passionate about mobilizing and creating change in the community: Alex Martínez Kondracke, America Ferrera, Carmen Perez, Christy Haubegger, Elsa Collins, Eva Longoria Bastón, Jess Morales Rocketto, Mónica Ramírez, Olga Segura, and Stephanie Valencia.
Eva Longoria: From Desperate Housewives to Political Activist
Eva has used her influence as a Latina actress, director, producer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist to make a positive impact in the Latina community.
Known as the character Gabrielle Solis in the comedy-drama series, Desperate Housewives, Eva has often looked to the show’s storytelling and execution in her own journey as a producer. The show first aired its pilot in October 2004, putting her in the spotlight.
“For her, the Desperate Housewives pilot was a masterclass in how to create and launch a TV show, and she says she still uses what she learned from that experience as a producer launching her own shows,” Variety said.
The 2017 Philanthropist of the Year has also used her platform as an actress to shed light on other critical issues ranging from politics to better education and entrepreneurship opportunities for Latinas.
Eva has also been a prominent advocate for disability rights and amplifying the voices of Latinos in politics.
She has been associated with many different charities and foundations over the years, with a focus on advocating for various causes affecting women and children.
In 2006, she co-founded Eva’s Heroes, an organization that aims to enrich the lives of individuals with intellectual special needs.
Eva’s Heroes is an organization that is very near and dear to her heart, as she has a sister with special needs. “I am blessed with a sister who has special needs. Now, I want to impact the lives of similar young adults nationwide,” said Eva.
With her entrepreneurial spirit and inspiring advocacy career, Eva has long been fighting for more representation of Latino political leaders, co-founding Latino Victory Fund, a progressive political committee to help grow Latino political power and influence.
Most recently, she headlined and opened up the 2020 Democratic National Convention with an inspiring speech about saving our democracy and making our voices heard:
“So, tonight we stand together, united by the values we cherish: Decency, respect, justice, and the opportunity to rise up. We always hear that line about this being the most important election of our lifetimes, but this year, it really is.”
In her keynote speech, she also acknowledged the lives lost and impacted by COVID-19, compounded by immense job loss and division. “Yet, in the middle of the fear and sorrow and uncertainty, people have come together because they know we are better than this. America is better than this,” she added.
It wasn’t long until Eva received criticism for headlining the convention from Marco Rubio in a tweet that said, “Brilliant move! No one is more in touch with the challenges & obstacles faced by everyday Americans than actors & celebrities.”
Eva hosted the DNC, not just as an actress, but also as a Latina woman with immense influence and advocacy for different important causes affecting women and the Latino community, said Refinery29.
Beyond her trailblazing work and committing to better Latino representation, she is also committed to empowering and supporting the Latino community through education and entrepreneurship opportunities.
In 2013, Eva received her master’s degree in Chicano Studies from California State University, Northridge. She has also worked tirelessly to help advocate for more Latino representation and job opportunities for Latinos in the Hollywood entertainment industry. USC Annenberg reported that between 2007 and 2013, only 3 percent of films featured leads or co-leads with Latino actors. And, of the films that were analyzed, only 4.5 percent of all speaking characters were Latino in the past decade.
Through her work with the Eva Longoria Foundation, Eva has been committed to investing in Latino community leaders and entrepreneurs. She recently joined forces with the Latino Community Foundation to continue supporting Latina entrepreneurs in California during the “Coming of Age” 15th anniversary gala in May 2020.
During the gala, Eva announced a new initiative aimed at investing and supporting Latina entrepreneurs in California. Proceeds from the gala supported Latino organizations that provide vital services to low-income families that are impacted by wage loss as well as California farmworkers and their families.
Eva has long been an outspoken advocate for Latino representation and has empowered Latina youth through various mentorship and STEM programs at the Eva Longoria Foundation.
The foundation’s programs help narrow the opportunity gap that many Latinas face through culturally relevant programs, such as STEM education, mentorship, parent engagement, and entrepreneurship.
The Eva Longoria Foundation says Latinas are a rapidly growing demographic with immense potential, but they “disproportionately lack educational opportunities and face economic challenges.”
The goal of the foundation is to close the education gap and help Latinas build better futures through education and entrepreneurship.
Along with supporting and empowering Latino youth, Eva is passionate about civic engagement, empowering Latino voters, and advocating for more Latino representation in politics.
She co-founded the Latino Victory Project—a progressive political action committee–to elevate the voices of Latinos through politics and increase representation “at every level of government.”
In July, Eva headlined a kickoff event announcing Latino Victory Fund’s launch of the First Latinas program geared toward electing “trailblazing Latinas” to increase Latina representation in government and other aspects of political life.
Whether it’s saving our democracy to empowering youth and advocating for women, Eva has become an outspoken and much-needed voice in the Latina community.
America Ferrera: From Ugly Betty to Advocating for the Rights of Women
As an award-winning actress, producer, director, activist, organizer, and the proud daughter of immigrants from Honduras, America Ferrera has paved the way for Latina representation, speaking out about pressing political issues, and encouraging women to be in “decision-making roles” by getting a seat at the table.
In the early 2000s, America appeared as a Latina lead in the cult-favorite ABC comedy series Ugly Betty and the movie Real Women Have Curves, along with countless other groundbreaking lead roles. She has also gone on to star in the NBC show Superstore and has produced and directed several TV shows.
She has also received countless awards and was recognized as the first Latina to win an Outstanding Lead Actress Emmy for her lead role in Ugly Betty.
“I don’t fit in traditional boxes for women on screen. When I became an actress, my mere presence was a revolution because I wasn’t supposed to exist in this industry,” America told net-a-porter in an interview.
America has spoken out about the need for Latinas to see themselves represented on television. In an interview with the New York Times, America talked about the importance of diverse storytelling and representation:
“Our writers aren’t sort of pulling issues from the headlines. They are mostly driven by the characters in the show. And this is where the real necessity for diversity is exemplified. It’s so that the storytelling is rich and compelling and relevant to today because that is what our world actually looks like. That is what our culture should be reflective of—all the different points of view and real-life experiences that one has as an America.”
America is also a storyteller herself: She wrote a New York Times bestselling book, American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures, which highlights the experience of growing up between cultures.
Perhaps America’s most notable role off-screen is one as an advocate for women and helping Latinas and women of color recognize their true power and influence.
She has continued to advocate for women across the globe. She recently served as a keynote speaker for the Texas Women’s Foundation virtual luncheon September 29, 2020.
Her keynote address highlighted the importance of creating opportunities for women and empowering them to speak out about their experiences. It was also an opportunity to discuss her book, which features essays of 31 other first-generation American artists and activists who share their personal accounts of assimilating in America and staying connected to their roots.
One of her most impactful and life-changing moments was when she was invited as the opening speaker at the historic inaugural Women’s March in D.C. in 2017, where she used her platform as an actress and women and civil rights advocate to create and inspire change.
America is no stranger to speaking out against injustices. She has also spoken out about various issues concerning immigration, the environment, and healthcare. She talked about the importance of the Women’s March and how that day continued to impact and inspire change:
“None of us knew how historical the march would be. We’ve lost so much ground in this country going backwards, making people’s lives less equal and dignified. I think back to that day: we’re not alone, people will show up,” America told net-a-porter.
America’s experience at the historic Women’s March was something that continued to inspire her advocacy through her nonprofit organization, Harness. She began thinking of innovative ways to mobilize and bring communities together through the power of love, relationship building, and sustaining movements.
In an excerpt from “Together We Rise: Behind the Scenes at the Protest Heard Around the World” as quoted by Time Magazine, America talked about the impact of the Women’s March and the need to continue talking about channeling energy into sustaining the movement: “Our gatherings grew into an organization called Harness. We bring people together in the hope that those wanting to use their voices can do it from a deeper, more rooted place, because they are invested in real, personal relationships. That’s the fuel. The people you meet, the bodies you hug, the stories you hear. We don’t have to worry about people going home and forgetting what they heard and what they need to do. You don’t forget about people you know and love—you carry them in your heart. If we can bring that ethic of community and love into our daily lives, I believe we can sustain the movement.”
In 2016, America addressed the Democratic National Convention and later that year. After the events that transpired after the election, she launched Harness, along with her husband, Ryan Pier Williams, and Wilmer Valderrama.
The organization features a robust community of artists, activists, as well as entertainment leaders to elevate the experiences of marginalized communities. Today, Harness is more critical than ever during a pandemic that has claimed the lives of 200,000 Americans and continued racial injustice.
In an interview with Vogue, America talked about the decisions that others make about the lives of others and the importance of art and spreading political awareness:
“People make decisions every single day that impact my life—the air I breathe, my ability to walk down the street and be safe, how much money I make for the job I do, whether I can choose what happens to my body. And at every important social moment in our history, artists have played a role. It doesn’t have to be about marching. The art itself has a role to play. At the end of the day, it’s about wielding that sword with awareness.”
America also hasn’t shied away from getting political and speaking out about inequalities and injustice to women. She shared her personal experience as a survivor of childhood sexual assault during #MeToo:
“First time I can remember being sexually assaulted I was 9 years old…I told no one and lived with the shame and guilt thinking all along that I, a 9-year-old child, was somehow responsible for the actions of a grown man,” America told Variety.
She also went on to show solidarity with leaders and activists during the launch of the Time’s Up Movement, an initiative that aims to address issues related to sexual harassment in the workplace and the need for more advocacy for women. Several Hollywood leaders and celebrities like America and Shonda Rhimes committed to the movement’s mission in solidarity.
According to InStyle, America was one of the “first women in Hollywood who listened when 700,000 blue-collar women wrote an open letter offering support for those who’ve publicly shared their sexual harassment stories.”
In 2019, America helped mobilize and lead a group of actors including Eva, Kerry Washington, and others to meet with immigrant lawyers and migrant families seeking asylum.
America was deeply concerned about the Trump Administration policies and treatment of refugees. She told NBC News that the visit to the shelter in Tijuana was an opportunity to educate others on important issues.
She referenced being a mom and holding her newborn just the previous year, and thinking about the lack of running water or clean food that many refugees who are trying to seek asylum are denied: “How dire would my situation have to be to grab this brand new child and walk for a month, with no access to clean water and food, not knowing what I would meet along the way, to try and seek asylum and safety and refuge because my situation was so bad?” America questioned.
Over the years, America has become an empowering force in the Latina community. She’s been a much-needed voice speaking out about issues that concern women.
The Future of ‘She Se Puede’
Both America and Eva have made an impact speaking out about important issues affecting our communities, while empowering Latinas to tap into their inner strength and power.
The launch of She Se Puede comes at a critical time in the wake of important movements amplifying the impact of women, particularly Latinas.
As prominent Latina women with immense influence, both Eva and America are committed to continuing to uplift the voices of Latina women both online and offline.
She Se Puede continues to be a hopeful and optimistic digital community platform that addresses Latinas’ unique needs and provides ongoing support and resources to empower change.
“She Se Puede is the destination for the modern Latina who wants to level up her life. We celebrate our diverse experiences and dreams, and provide the tools we need to own our power. She Se Puede is a community for Latinas, by Latinas.”
Even for celebrated Latinx performers like John Leguizamo, finding success in the entertainment industry is a hard-fought and seemingly never-ending battle. But as a newcomer to the business, Leguizamo recalls being galvanized by the struggle into telling his own stories.
“I just kept getting put into these really negative roles that I felt I was contributing to the downgrade of the Latinx image in the media,” he tells Variety. “I wanted to write my own stuff, so I could portray my people the way I saw them and felt them.” And that’s exactly what the Leguizamo did. His 1991 off-Broadway production of “Mambo Mouth” was a hit. Despite being forced to perform in the hallway of the theater, the show brought in big names including Arthur Miller, Al Pacino and John F. Kennedy Jr.
“All of a sudden I felt like I have something to offer,” Leguizamo says. “I have something that white America, Black America, that Latin America wants. This became the impetus of my whole life.”
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Variety brought together prominent Latinx creatives who have all had to carve their own path on the road of success in Hollywood. Cristela Alonzo, Benjamin Bratt, Stephanie Beatriz, Julio Torres and Leguizamo joined Variety’s film awards editor Clayton Davis for a “#Represent” roundtable discussion looking to learn what each individual’s definition of career prosperity is, and what that looks like moving forward for Latinx creators and artists in the future.
Torres, a former “Saturday Night Live” writer who has made both a comedy special and series with HBO, says he uses the word “success” very cautiously. “I have that immigrant thing where I feel like it can go away any second,” he explains. But he reveals that a highlight of his career, thus far, has been developing his standup special “My Favorite Shapes,” which prominently features a rotating selection of objects to which he has a special connection.
“One of my happiest moments was going to the warehouse where this conveyor belt was being made for this show. I thought like, ‘Oh my God, how’d I trick HBO into greenlighting this thing?’” he says. “I feel like I fooled enough people into investing in me.”
Alonzo first felt like a success when she signed a deal with ABC to develop her own show. “I was writing for other Latinos and I could actually control the authenticity,” she explains.
“Cristela” ran for one 22-episode season on the network between 2014 and 2015 before its cancellation. The show debuted alongside “Black-ish” and the now-canceled “Fresh Off the Boat” — both series that have accumulated well over 100 episodes to date. Making the case that representation must extend behind the scenes and into the executive suite, Alonzo says that “Fresh Off the Boat” and “Black-ish” had the benefit of having Black and Asian executives in their corners, something her show lacked.
“There were no Latino executives or anybody at that network [that worked on ‘Cristela’]. I had to fight with them all the time to explain my existence,” Alonzo says. “If my story didn’t fit their version of what Latino life is, it was inauthentic to them.”
Advocating for authenticity has long been a priority for the actor and comedian, who says her own creative ambitions were born out of a desire to push beyond stereotypes. Alonzo started doing stand-up comedy because she “wanted to write the words” she was going to say. “I was sick and tired of playing the maid… Every audition, the accent got thicker and thicker,” she recalls, adding that she even went so far as to refuse auditions for those roles, a move her agent advised against.
When Luis Miranda arrived in New York City from Puerto Rico in the 1970s, he looked like many young students of his time, with his jeans and shaggy hair. In the Big Apple, though, he realized that not everyone wanted people like him. Instead of culture shock, he experienced discrimination. “It didn’t matter if you were a janitor or a PhD student,” Miranda recalled, “what they saw was Puerto Rican, some brown person, some brown kid. Not a real American.”
Miranda went on to become an activist, a government official, a political consultant, and a loving father to three children—including his son, Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the Broadway smash, “Hamilton.” Now the older Miranda, who has long been a behind-the-scenes player in Democratic politics, is in the spotlight in a new documentary, “Siempre, Luis,” debuting October 6 on HBO and HBO Max.
A camera crew spent a year following Miranda around, capturing his family life, political work, heath issues and humanitarian efforts. Watching the film, Miranda told NBC News, was an emotional experience for him.
“What comes to mind is how many great people I have met and known throughout my life; people who either convinced me that I had to join their fight, or I convinced that they had to join me, and together we have moved forward,” he said. “It was a reminder of how many people have helped me, (and) that I didn’t have time to thank them all.”
Luis A. Miranda Jr., 66, was born in the town of Vega Alta in Puerto Rico. A sharp student, he headed for New York City in the 1970s to continue his graduate work, inspired by—of all things—the character played by Debbie Reynolds in the 1964 movie musical, “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”
In Nueva York, Miranda became an advocate for the city’s Latino residents, who were then predominantly Puerto Rican. By the 1980s, Miranda was a special advisor to Mayor Ed Koch, eventually becoming the Director of the Mayor’s Office for Hispanic Affairs.
In 1990, Miranda founded the non-profit Hispanic Federation, and has also been a key Democratic political consultant, working on U.S. Senate campaigns including Hillary Clinton’s as well as Rep. Adriano Espaillat’s, D-NY, who became the first Dominican American in the U.S. Congress.
Miranda has been a champion of his son’s ambitions as well. When a young, struggling Lin-Manuel received an offer for a full-time teaching job, his father advised him to follow his dreams instead. He helped promote his son’s off-Broadway musical “In The Heights” until it became successful and transferred to Broadway.
In fact, the younger Miranda credits his Dad as being part of his inspiration for “Hamilton”—Founding Father Alexander Hamilton also arrived in New York from the Caribbean—he was from the island of Nevis. “When I was playing him, I was just playing my father,” said Lin-Manuel.
“Siempre, Luis” highlights the devastating impact that Hurricane Maria had on Puerto Rico in 2017, and in the documentary, Miranda cries as he recalled the destruction. “For me, Puerto Rico is this untouchable, perfect place,” he says in the film, “that all of a sudden, doesn’t exist anymore.” A central focus of the film is the lengthy process, that was not without controversy, by which Miranda and Lin-Manuel bring a production of “Hamilton” to the island as a way of raising funds for Puerto Rico’s recovery.