It’s no secret, but I’ll put it out there anyways: Latina women have made an indelible impact on Hollywood. Though the fight for representation persists, the last several years have seen some of the most honest and impactful Latina characters in television history, and I believe that the actresses who bring them to life deserve more recognition for their ability to translate some of our most universal experiences onto the screen. Here are just four of those actresses.
- Tessa Thompson
Afro-Latinas are unfortunately passed over in the industry, even when the role calls for a Latina. Tessa Thompson, an Afro-Panamanian, made her thunderous entrance in 2014 with “Dear White People”, capturing a wide audience with her wit and topical humor to earn her breakout movie its own show. Her standout roles in “Selma” and “Thor: Ragnarok” are underappreciated, in my opinion, but perhaps my favorite role of hers was in the sequel to “Creed”.
- Yalitza Aparicio
The raw, moving journey of Yalizta Aparicio as Cleo in Roma (2018) honestly changed me, and I’m thrilled that Aparicio was even nominated for Best Actress at the Academy for it–an award, frankly, I think should have gone to her. Aparicio, an indigenous Mexican of Mixtec and Triqui blood, was actually the first-ever indigenous woman to be nominated for that title. One of her most recent roles is in the show Los Espookys, a series about a horror enthusiast who forms a business around providing thrills.
- Tanya Saracho
Mexican-American playwright, actress, and screenwriter Tanya Saracho is best known for creating the hit Starz show “Vida”, whose success particularly thrills me as it was one of the only shows centering on a queer woman of color, though I never saw nearly as much discussion about that as I should! Last year during Hispanic Heritage Month, Saracho joined 270 Latin creators like John Leguizamo, Lin Manuel Miranda, and Gloria Calderon Kellet to send an open letter to Hollywood expressing their frustration and asking for a systematic overhaul in the entertainment industry.
- America Ferrera
From Ugly Betty to Superstore, America Ferrera is versatile and hilarious. She was the first-ever Latina to win the Primetime Emmy Award, as well as winning the 2007 Best Actress Award at the Golden Globes. I think people overlook her other (iconic) roles, however: she first captured my attention in 2005 in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and stood out as a voice actress playing Astrid Hofferson in the How to Train Your Dragon franchise, which was a delightful surprise.