I grew up watching plenty of action, sci-fi and thriller films, but not many of those lead actors were Latino, much less Latinas. So when I saw Latinas kicking ass on screen, I took notice. These characters were physically strong and smart women who stood up for what they believed in, and who never conceded to any stereotypes held before them. They might not be thought of as the warmest of characters, but they showed us that Latinas can play women that are intelligent, funny, sexy, misunderstood, fierce, strong and so much more. Now, let’s get more Latinas as action stars, please!
Letty Ortiz in “Fast & The Furious”
CREDIT: Universal/Fast & The Furious
Does it get any more iconic than Michelle Rodriguez as Letty Ortiz? In a franchise that is one of the highest grossing of all time, Rodriguez is a strong Latina force that demands attention amongst the men in her cast. Even while holding her own as a mechanic and fierce street racer, Letty never held back on oozing confidence and sexuality.
Honorable Mention: Diana Guzman in “Girlfight”
CREDIT: Sony Pictures/ Girlfight
Rodriguez plays hot-tempered Brooklyn teenager Diana Guzman, who starts training in boxing to compete in amateur fights. This is Rodriguez’s first role EVER, and her inspiring performance earned her a bevy of award nominations. Much deserved.
Cataleya Restrepo in “Colombiana”
Zoe Saldana as Cataleya Restrepo pic.twitter.com/ULmSNpI8ei
— woah (@vndrewx) December 30, 2016
Cataleya is a young girl who watched both of her parents be killed in front of her eyes. Instead of victimizing herself, she decided to devote her life to getting revenge. In “Colombiana,” Saldana epitomizes a strong woman who does everything necessary to honor her parents and avenge their deaths. While becoming an assassin might not be everyones way to deal with trauma, Saldana totally embodies the part with grace and passion.
Gail in “Sin City”
CREDIT: Miramax/Sin City
Rosario Dawson kicked off her career playing a wayward teen in “KIDS,” and her roles have pushed the limits ever since. In “Sin City,” Dawson played Gail, one of the leaders of the Old Town girls. Gail was fierce in all the ways, and her daring outfit made out of leather, fishnet stockings and studs, matches her personality perfectly. Dawson steps back into a badass comic book role as Dr. Claire Temple in “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage,” “Iron Fist” and “The Defenders.”
Everly in “Everly”
— Film4 (@Film4) October 14, 2017
Salma Hayek plays the title role of Everly, a woman forced into prostitution by an evil drug lord. Much like Saldana’s character in “Colombiana,” Everly follows Hayek as she searches for the men who did this to her, and is on a mission to save her mother and daughter who have also been caught. What ensues is Hayek flexing her vengeance muscle, and she comes out victorious, (while looking fabulous.)
Tania Johnson in “Rush Hour”
Elizabeth Peña was so beautiful in Rush Hour, R.I.P ?? pic.twitter.com/tVbLxGcE22
— DA`LAN (@olepapi) November 26, 2015
Peña played the badass LAPD bomb squad expert, Tania Johnson, who holds her own on screen against Chris Tucker’s James Carter and Jackie Chan’s Lee. While she didn’t appear in the “Rush Hour” sequels, Peña’s portrayal of Johnson was a fan favorite and oft-remembered even after the actresses untimely death in 2014.
Andrea Fleytas in “Deep Water Horizon”
Watch Gina as Andrea Fleytas in Deepwater Horizon! Comes out on September 30! pic.twitter.com/mLqKuQjZ84
— Daily Gina Rodriguez (@ginasdaily) September 20, 2016
Andrea Fleytas was only 23 years old and one of only three women working on board the oil rig Deepwater Horizon when disaster struck on April 20, 2010. Andrea survives the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history and her heroic antics during that fateful day earned her the Hollywood treatment. She is portrayed by Gina Rodriguez in “Deepwater Horizon,“ where she captures Andrea’s fighting spirit in the face of danger.
Slim Hiller in “Enough”
Blonde girl had ENOUGH like J-Lo pic.twitter.com/ldrdoKEaRF
— Dragon Slayer (@MBartlay23) January 2, 2015
J.Lo follows her breakout film role in “Selena” with a few badass characters in films like “Anaconda,” “Out of Sight” and “Angel Eyes,” but her role as Slim Hiller in “Enough” solidifies her as a true blue action star. Lopez trained hard in the art of Krav Maga, inspiring many women to take up the self defense technique, learning to bring out a bit of the Slim inside them.