Latina Actress Shakira Barrera Uses The SAG Awards As An Opportunity To Raise Awareness About What’s Happening In Nicaragua

Celebrities are increasingly using award show ceremonies to raise awareness on issues that are close to their heart, and at Sunday’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, Latina actress Shakira Barrera followed suit.

The GLOW actress attended the ceremony in a white gown with a blue-and-white cape. When she lifted her arms, the cloak turned into the Nicaraguan flag. Barrera’s bedazzled purse also had the words “Free Nicaragua” written on it, a rallying cry as the country nears one year of mass protests.

Last April, after President Daniel Ortega increased pension contributions from employers and reduced the pensions of retirees by 5 percent, the people, long angry with his administration, took to the streets, with protests exploding throughout the nation. The massive response, including the international attention demonstrators received, forced Ortega to reverse his pension reforms, but the people remain disappointed in the leader and raged at the way the state has attempted to suppress dissenters.

With her red carpet outfit, Barrera, a New Jersey-raised actress of Nicaraguan descent, used the the spotlight to bring attention to a fight that many have since forgotten about. And it’s not the only way she’s attempting to keep her people’s struggle at the forefront. According to Remezcla, the 28-year-old actress also uses her Instagram account to share messages to her followers about protests occurring in the Central American country and sends monthly donations to a Nicaraguan charity that helps their disabled community.

Even Sunday’s look intentionally helped out her people, as her attention-grabbing dress was made by Nicaraguan designer Germain Renner.

Catch Barrera playing Yo-Yo on the Netflix series GLOW.

Read: Netflix Series ‘GLOW’ Introduces A Badass Latina Character And We Stan

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Netflix Series ‘GLOW’ Introduces A Badass Latina Character And We Stan


Netflix Series ‘GLOW’ Introduces A Badass Latina Character And We Stan

The Netflix comedy series “Glow” premiered its second season in June 2018, bringing new adventures, dramas, bad 90s hair, and costumes to the world of the gorgeous ladies of wrestling. But it also brought something else to shake things up.

A new character named Yolanda, a badass Latina who doesn’t take any crap in or outside the ring.

Here’s a few things to know about Yolanda!

1. She’s played by Shakira Berrera

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The Nicaraguan-American actress doesn’t have a ton of acting credits to her name, but has appeared on “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Lethal Weapon,” and “Queen of the South.”

2. Her character Yolanda has a nickname.

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What is it? I’ll give you a hint. It’s after a childhood toy from the ’80s. It’s Yo Yo!

3. Shakira, and Yolanda, can move!

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Shakira graduated from Rutgers with a B.F.A. in dance. That came in handy for this character, who uses her dance moves in the wrestling rings…and elsewhere.

4. Yolanda is Mexican-American.

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Which is great considering the lack of representation of Latinx characters on television. We need more that have actual depth.

5. She’s bisexual.

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Yolanda is the first bisexual character to appear on the show, though arguable not the only LGBTQ+ character. She’s out and proud, and doesn’t feel the need to hide her identity.

6. That’s important for a few reasons.

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TV and film has a tendency to portray people from the LGBTQ+ community as tragic characters, reducing them to their traumas. Or they’re in the closet and battling with their identity.

7. Not here though.

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Nope, Yolanda thrives in her sexuality and while we can assume she’s had some hardship, it’s not the focus of her story. Perhaps that will come up in season three, but this proves it isn’t necessary to always lean on characters like Yolanda to only be compelling if they’re tragic.

8. In fact, she finds love.

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Spoiler alert, but Yolanda is so fly and cute one of her wrestling colleagues falls head over heels in love with her. And it’s totally adorable.

9. And her love interest…

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Is also a woman of color – and it’s Arthie, aka Beirut the Mad Bomber. After being paired together for a dance routine, they become totally smitten. Showing the blossoming love of two women of color is something beautiful to see.

10 . She’s a stripper.

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Yolanda was “discovered” by Sam, the creator of the wrestling show, at a local strip club where he saw her dancing.

11. And once again, she’s not ashamed.

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When anyone tries to make her feel bad or embarrassed about her day job, she shuts it down real quick. Having an unapologetic stripper on TV is awesome and helps reduce stigmas.

12. Well, she might be a little embarrassed.

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But only when she was about to drop her top and her boss was there in the front row. She warns him that it’s about to come off and he leaves the room because now that he knows her it’s harder to watch. Men, I tell ya.

13. Her wrestling persona is Junkchain.

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The character initially belonged to Cherry, but after she left the wrestling show to star on a cop series she had to forfeit her character.

14. But then is forced to fight for it.

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In a very offensive match where Sam makes “Chola Junkchain” fight “Black Junkchain” to see who gets to keep the name.

15. Her character, and others, delve into racial and ethnic stereotypes.

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That fight, and the wrestling personas of several of the other characters play into stereotypes that are not just offensive but super reductive. It gives the show a place to speak on these stereotypes and why they’re not ok. That includes Junkchain.

16. In real life, she’s backed that up for big stars.

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Shakira has used her dance background to dance on stage with Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull, Don Omar, Chiquis Rivera and others.

17. Is Yolanda inspired by anyone?

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Maybe! There was a wrestler back in the day who was the first open gay woman wrestler. Her name was Sonya Deville. And before her there was a wrestler named Tiffany Mellon, only she sued the original real life GLOW for harassment stemming from beliefs about he sexuality.

18. She landed the job with a tape.

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Shakira recorded an audition tape and submitted it to a casting director. That tape landed in the hands of the show’s creators and the rest is history.

19. She wasn’t welcomed at first.

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On the show! When she first arrives on the series, the other characters don’t like Yo Yo, thinking she’s going to take their job. But that proved to be untrue. And in real life that wasn’t the case either. The cast was happy to have her, and she was already friends and former colleagues with Britney Young, who plays Carmen/Machu Pichu.

20. GLOW isn’t it for Shakira!

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She just signed on to be a series regular on the comedy “Three Rivers.” She had these words to say: “Representing every dreamer out there. Every Latina. Every underdog. Every fighter. Don’t stop knocking on those doors. And if you get tired of knocking, kick them down. I promise, the right one will open for you.”

Shakira is someone to look out for, and out there representing Latinas with style, grace, and fierceness. We can’t wait to see more!

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Latina Reads: Nicaraguan Escritoras Whose Works You Won’t Be Able To Put Down

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Latina Reads: Nicaraguan Escritoras Whose Works You Won’t Be Able To Put Down

Nicaragua may be known for its natural beauty, but the largest country in Central America is also home to some of the greatest authors in Latin America.

Historically devastated by dictatorships and civil unrest, the women on this list fought along with their community with their words and sometimes even their actions. From Nicaraguan icons to contemporary writers, these escritoras share a passion for their country that’s evident in their works.

1. Gioconda Belli

#giocondabelli #nicaragua???????? #barcelona @txalapartatik

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Gioconda Belli is one of Nicaragua’s most prolific political and intellectual voices, defender of women’s rights and one of the most important poets of Latin America. The 69-year-old published her first poetry book in 1972 titled “On the Grass,” which openly focused on sexuality and the female form. That year, she won the Premio de Poesía Mariano Fiallos Gil award from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Nicaragua. Her 1988 book “La Mujer Habitada” is a semi-autobiographical novel that received attention for raising gender issues in a way that hadn’t been done before in Nicaragua. In 2000, she published her autobiography “El Pais Bajo mi Piel,” and the English translation was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 2003.

2. Daisy Zamora

(Photo Credit: Melvin Vargas)

The multifaceted Daisy Zamora is a political activist and painter as well as one of Latin America’s and Nicaragua’s most distinguished poets. Her work has been recognized for covering a wide range of topics, including politics, human rights, feminism, culture, art and history. She was involved in the fight against the Somoza dictatorship in the 1970s and joined the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) in 1973. She was exiled to Honduras, Panama and Costa Rica. She has written five books, including “Riverbed of Memory,” published in 1992, and more recently “Tierra de Nadie, Tierra de Todos” (“No-Man’s Land, Everybody’s Land”), published in 2007.  She’s edited several anthologies, including the first anthology of Nicaraguan women poets, “La Mujer Nicaragüense en la Poesía,” published in 1992.  In 2006, she was honored Writer of the Year by the National Association of Artists in Nicaragua. She splits her time between Managua, Nicaragua and San Francisco, Calif. with her husband, writer George Evans, and their three kids.

3. Karly Gaitán Morales

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Writer, journalist and film historian Karly Gaitán Morales, 36, lives in Managua and has published two books. “Cita con Sergio Ramírez. Entrevistas. Artículos. Crónicas,” which centered on Nicaraguan writer Sergio Ramírez, released in 2012, and she also later published “A la conquista de un sueño. Historia del cine en Nicaragua,” which encompasses the history of films in Nicaragua from the late 1800s to present day.

4. María Teresa Sánchez

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Self-taught writer María Teresa Sánchez is venerated for her efforts to revive Nicaraguan literature in addition to her own literary contributions as a pioneer female poet. In 1940, she founded the literary association Círculo de Letras and opened the publishing house Nuevos Horizontes, which played an integral part in collecting Nicaragua’s significant literary works. She published six books in her lifetime, while “Huésped del Olvido” was published posthumously by the Nicaraguan Center for Writers in 2001. The themes often found in her works include love, sorrow, sadness and loneliness.

5. Mariana Ortega

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Feminist philosopher Mariana Ortega is an associate professor at Penn State University focusing on philosophy and women’s, gender and sexuality studies. Her research centers on questions of self, identity and sociality as well as visual representations of race, gender and sexuality. Her work has been published in multiple journals and she co-edited the anthology “Constructing the Nation: A Race and Nationalism Reader.” In 2016, she published “In-Between: Latina Feminist Phenomenology, Multiplicity, and the Self,” analyzing writings by Gloría Anzaldúa, María Lugones and Linda Martín Alcoff in the context of Latina feminism and race theory. She is the founder and director of the Roundtable on Latina feminism, a forum dedicated to discussions of Latina and Latin American feminisms.

6. Blanca Castellón

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Celebrated poet Blanca Castellón is a published author who is currently vice president of the Centro Nicaragüense de Escritores. She has published five books, including “Ama del Espíritu” (1995) and more recently her 2016 release, “Water for Days of Thirst: Selected Poems,” an introspective collection with Nicaragua’s social upheaval as its backdrop. In the year 2000, she received the International Award from the Institute of Modernists.

7. Claribel Alegria

Claribel Alegría is one of Central America’s most prominent writers with both Nicaraguan and Salvadoran roots. Born in Nicaragua in 1924, she grew up in El Salvador and eventually made her way to the U.S. in 1943. Throughout her life, Alegría was committed to nonviolent resistance, even during her close association with the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), the people’s movement that overthrew dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle. In 1985, she returned to Nicaragua to aid its reconstruction. Alegría published numerous works, including the book of poetry “Sorrow,” under her pen name, and was awarded the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, considered the American equivalent of the Nobel. The famed writer passed away in January 2018 at the age of 93 in Managua. She was also featured on our list of Salvadoran writers to check out.

8. Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez


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Latina Rebels founder and all-around fierce Latina Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez is one of the most vocal and prominent feminist Latina writers today. She’s been featured on HuffPost, Guerrilla Feminism, Latina magazine, Everyday Feminism and FIERCE, and her writings include popular essays like “Dear Woke Brown Girl,” “Chonga Manifesto” and “I Was Called Llorona Growing Up — But I Was Really Just Crying Out For Help After Years Of Abuse.” She’s a full-time writer, contributing regularly to her Patreon page, she has had her essays published in anthologies like “Nevertheless We Persisted and she is currently working on her first book. She was born in Managua and currently resides in Nashville, when she’s not traveling the country for speaking engagements.

9. Martha Cecilia Ruíz

(Photo Credit: Carlos Valle)

Social activist and poet Martha Cecilia Ruíz, 45, published her first book in 2016, though her work had been placed in numerous anthologies before then. “Familia de Cuchillos” centers on double morality, inequality and gender violence. In the early 2000s, Ruiz founded the group Three Times Three: Three Women, Three Poets, Three Journalists with Esther Picado and Vilma Duarte. She currently directs the El País Azul radio talk show and sits on the board of directors of the Nicaraguan Association of Writers.

Read: Latina Reads: 9 Venezuelan And Venezuelan-American Women Authors To Make Room For On Your Bookshelves

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