Entertainment

7 Latino TV And Movie Characters That Stole Your Niñez

If you grew up in the 90s, you’re aware of how different TV looks today vs. back in the day. In an era packed with so many Latina stars like Gina Rodriguez, Sofia Vergara, Selena Gomez, and Jennifer Lopez it’s kind of weird to look back and remember how absent such faces were almost two decades ago. Why? Because straight up: flipping on the TV and finding people who looked like us was quite a rarity in the 90s. Fortunately, there were a few characters around to shape our understanding of what it meant to be Latino in our youth.

Here’s to the trendy, geeky, rebellious Latinos who gave us strange new feelings, nuanced understandings of sexuality, and brought a bit more color to whitewashed screens.

Benny ‘The Jet’ Rodriguez  from “The Sandlot”

20th Century Fox

Okay, hold up. First. Just look at those eyes^^^^^^^

There’s no denying that this brown eyed heartthrob had a huge influence in the spark of your sexual awakening. Not only was Benny the cutest guy on the team, he also shined through as the team’s star player and went on to the Dodgers. All this despite the times and the very white suburban neighborhood he lived in. 100% Benny is an inspiration and credit to Latinos who knock their dreams out of the park. Seriously, get yourself a major leaguer like this guy.

Sam Swoboda from “P.U.N.K.S.”

Ardustry Home Entertainment

Jessica Alba’s character, Sam, was one mean girl in this flick about a group of bullied teens aiming to shut down a corrupted company. For those of us who had a limited view of the parameters of what Latina could be, Sam’s character was a massive wakeup call. Sure, makeup and dresses can be our thing, but Sam taught us that we could get down and dirty right next to the boys. Even better we could run the show and be leaders of the pack.

Rickie Vasquez  from “My So-Called Life”

ABC

It all seems like yesterday, but looking back at the 90s its hard not to flinch at the reminders of how rampant negative portrayals of Latino characters and homosexuals was. And yet, a positive representation of the LGBT community unexpectedly emerged on a little teen drama called “My So-Called Life.” Rickie Vasquez. He rocked a mean eyeliner, used the girls’ bathroom as a safe haven, and kept his friends in check while remaining fiercely loyal to them. Rickie was a massive launching pad for TV’s understanding of sexual fluidity that the 90s desperately needed.

Ruby from “Kids”

Shining Excalibur Films, Miramax

There’s no way Mima let you watch this film while you were a kid in the 90s. Bets are that you watched this with one eye on the door and a finger ready to hit “last.” Ruby (played by Cuban Puertorriqueña, Rosario Dawson) was the ringleader of a group of sexually active teenage girls doing quite a lot a little too soon. While Ruby didn’t always shine as a beacon of sexual responsibility, she did open our eyes to dark realities to come in our teen years.

A.C. Slater from “Saved by the Bell”

NBC Enterprises/NBCUniversal Television Distribution

Muscles ― lo siento, Mario ― Mario Lopez portrayed U.S. Army Brat A.C. Slater and took things to a next level for us (sexuality wise) after Benny Rodriguez. One peck ripple from A.C. and there’s no questioning what stripped us of the remainder of our Latina youth. And still, despite A.C’s heritage never being a thing in the early days of SBTB (though, there is an entire episode dedicated to Slater discovering his Chicano identity in “The College Years”) we all knew what was up. Besides Lisa Turtle, A.C. was one of the few people of color portrayed on the show which was a big deal considering how massive the show was. It always felt good knowing that we could flip on the TV and see someone who looked like us. LBR, especially one that was so guapo.

Ashley Banks from “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”

Warner Bros. Television Distribution

Ashley Banks herself might not have been a Latina character, but Tatyana M. Ali whose parents are Trinidadian and Panamanian identifies herself as Afro-Latina. As a non-Latina character on the show, there’s no doubt Ashely still had some influence on us as kids. She was a smart, beautiful and witty girl of color and TV was missing quite a bit of that. While initially young Ashley did her best to model her dope older cousin Will, it wasn’t long before she began to grow into her own. She developed her own taste in music and fashion all while pushing against the tight reins of father Phil. In short, she became ultimate #rebelforindepence goals.

Selena Quintanilla from “Selena”

Warner Bros.

Of course, Selena tops this list (she will never stop topping lists and don’t you ever forget that). Selena is, was, has, and always will be the ultimate on-screen big older sister for Latinas everywhere. Ask any Latina who grew up in the 90s which female character inspired her the most as a woman and find us a gal who doesn’t name Selena. That’s because she taught all about the washing machine, the power of will, grace, and how bras could moonlight as bustiers. For that, everyone should be incredibly grateful.

READ: Where Are All The Latina Superheroes? 9 Actresses Who’d Make Badass Superhero Characters

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Yalitza Aparicio Brought Her Mother To The Oscars And Other Incredible Things Latinas Did Last Night

Entertainment

Yalitza Aparicio Brought Her Mother To The Oscars And Other Incredible Things Latinas Did Last Night

The 91st Annual Academy Awards took place Sunday night and this year, it was a night full of glitz, glamour, and, most surprisingly, a lot of Spanish language! (Diego Luna, Javier Bardem, Alfonso Cuarón, and Guillermo del Toro all spoke Spanish during their speeches.)

Heading into the night, many viewed “Roma”, Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón’s artful and semi-autobiographic film, as the Best Picture front-runner and indeed, the film racked up three Oscars. But ultimately, “Roma” lost the Best Picture award to Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book.”

Although The Oscars still woefully under-represent Latinas in almost every category, Netflix’s critical darling, ‘Roma,” has provided a major spotlight for Latinx talent and stories, employing a largely Latinx cast and crew in its production.

Latinos Win Big

Sunday night was a big night for the Latinx community, with Spanish-language film “Roma” amassing three Oscar wins out of a total of 10 nominations. “Roma” wasn’t the only winner for the Latinx community though: Cuban-American director Phil Lord’s animated feature “Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse” won for Best Animated Film. All in all, Latinos walked away with Oscars for Foreign Language Film, Cinematography, Directing, and Animated Film.

Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón, won the Best Director statue for “Roma”, marking the second year in a row that a Latino has won the award after Guillermo del Toro won last year. Cuarón also won the award for Best Cinematography and Best Foreign Language Film–marking the first time Mexico has landed the award out of a total of ten nominations.

Cuarón began his impassioned acceptance speech Best Director first by thanking “Roma”‘s leading ladies, Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira. He then went on to thank the Academy for “recognizing a film centering around an indigenous woman–a character who has historically been relegated to the background in cinema”.

In another win for the Latinx community, “Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse” up-ended animation titan Disney to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. “Into the Spiderverse” revolves around the story of an Afro-Latino teenager moonlighting as Spiderman who discovers there are multiple versions of Spiderman in parallel universes.

Latino Director Phil Lord touched on the importance of representation in his acceptance speech, saying: “When we hear that a child turns to their parent and says, “[Spiderman] looks like me’ or ‘He speaks Spanish like us’, we feel like we already won”.

Latina Nominees Break New Ground

Most of the Latinx nominees for the night consisted of “Roma”‘s cast and crew, including Mexican actress Marina de Tavira for Best Supporting Actress, Yalitza Aparicio for Best Leading Actress, producer Gabriela Rodriguez for Best Picture, and set decorator Barbra Enriquez for Achievement in set design.

Yalitza Aparicio’s nomination, especially, was notable, as it was the first time in the Academy’s 90-year history that an Indigenous woman was nominated for Best Actress in a Lead Role.

Although these Latinas didn’t walk away with a gold statue, their presence alone was encouraging enough for the historically under-represented Latinx community.

“It’s possible to speak Spanish at the Oscars now”

The winners and nominees weren’t the only Latinos making a splash at this year’s Academy Awards, however. Oscar-winning Spanish actor Javier Bardem veered into political territory when he presented the award for Best Foreign Language film.

In Spanish, he stated: “There are no borders or walls that can restrain ingenuity and talent,” which many interpreted as a dig aimed at President Trump.

Actor Diego Luna began his introduction of “Roma” by stating, in Spanish:
“Ya se puede hablar español en los Oscars. Ya nos abrieron la puerta y no nos vamos a ir”. Translation: “It’s possible to speak Spanish at the Oscars now. They finally opened the door for us, and we’re not going anywhere.”

Spanish-American Chef José Andrés joined Luna in introducing “Roma”and praised the film for shining a spotlight on “all the invisible people in our lives–immigrants and women–who move humanity forward”.

As usual, Latina Twitter users had a lot to say about Hollywood’s biggest night.

Never one to beat around the bush, political commentator Ana Navarro remarked on the refreshing amount of diversity displayed onstage this year.

Other Latinas gave Alfonso Cuarón props for acknowledging domestic workers, a class of women that Hollywood often ignores:

Nuanced stories centered on domestic workers are few and far between in Hollywood.

This Latina expressed excitement at the novelty of a film featuring an Afro-Latino characters winning Best Animated Film:

Just the phrase “#WeSeeYou” says all that needs to be said about the importance of representation.

Some Latinas expressed disappointment that “Roma” was relegated to the “Foreign Film” category when its story transcended such labels:


Some members of the Latinx community were frustrated that “Roma” wasn’t awarded the Best Picture award.

Many Latinas were here for Javier Bardem condemning border walls:

He was one of the few actors of the night who dared to make a political statement–and in Spanish, no less!

And of course, Yalitza made us all fall in love with her more when she brought her mom.

The Mexican actress didn’t take home an Oscar last night, but there’s no doubting that her presence in Hollywood has changed the future of its landscape. Last night Mexican-American fans of the newcomer gushed about Aparicio’s role in bucking the light-skinned Latina stereotype that has so long been favored in Spanish-language films and TV shows.

Also, her appearance at the Oscars couldn’t have been more defining. After spending awards season turning heads in a series of dresses by Alberta Ferretti, Miu Miu and Prada, Aparicio took to the red carpet a pale tulle custom Rodarte gown designed specifically for her, the actress stepped out onto the red carpet with her mother at her side.

And finally, Latinas everywhere expressed their joy at hearing Spanish proudly spoken at the Oscars

The importance of normalizing Spanish’s presence in day to day life cannot be overstated–especially during a time when many Latinas are afraid to speak Spanish in public.

As usual, the Oscars were a night to remember. We hope that the Academy continues to support actors, producers and filmmakers of Latinx descent into the future.


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Cameron Diaz Talks About That Traumatic Scene From ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ That Gave Us All Our First Taste Of Second Hand Embarrassment

Entertainment

Cameron Diaz Talks About That Traumatic Scene From ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ That Gave Us All Our First Taste Of Second Hand Embarrassment

Everybody’s favorite 90s romantic comedy, “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” is packed with various moments of hilarious victories that make the movie so lovable. The 1997 film stars Julia Roberts as a 27-year-old Julianne Potter who flies to Chicago to break up her best friend (Dermot Mulroney’s) marriage to 20-year-old Kimmy (played by Cameron Diaz). It’s filled with meddling moments and mini-disasters including one iconic scene made of a particular sort of awkwardness.

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Diaz spoke about the one scene that prompted everyone to steer clear of karaoke bars.

My Best Friend’s Wedding/ TriStar Pictures

In one of the film’s most beloved scenes, Cameron Diaz’s Kimmy stands before a packed karaoke bar at the urging of Julianne and sputters and cries her way through Dionne Warwick’s “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself.” The scene is awkwardly heavy, with Diaz’s blotchy, clammy, pink face tearing apart every note and Julia Robert’s conniving character’s satisfied smirk. The patrons in the bar sit awkwardly still in their seats as they watch the trainwreck and experience the ultimate form of secondhand embarrassment. Then suddenly, through Kimmy’s show of good sportsmanship, the scene turns around.

The patrons join in on the song, singing, and clapping. Julianne is noticeably dumbfounded by her failed scheme. No doubt, the entire experience was humiliating for everyone watching (audience included) but there’s also no denying that the proper people have been charmed, even us the viewers who were supposed to be rooting for Julianne, can’t help but have a change of heart over the girl who has a father worth billions.

That’s just good acting. Or, so we thought.

Speaking with Entertainment Weekly for its latest reunion special, Diaz explained that the film was far more real than we might have guessed.

During the interview that commemorated the film which is now over twenty years old, Diaz admitted that the idea of standing up in front of the bar and singing actually, truly made her miserable.

“I was terrified to do that scene, for real,” Diaz, who is of Cuban descent admitted. “I allowed the true terror of singing in front of people to be alive in me. I wanted to run and hide, and Dermot kept me there. He said, “You can do it, you can do it.” In the scene I’m just staring at him the whole time because he’s looking at me like, “You’re okay. You’re not gonna die.” And I was like, “But I’m dying.”

Read: Actress Dayanara Torres Encourages Fans To Seek A Doctor’s Opinion When Something “Feels Funny” After Learning She Has Cancer

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