As a way to support Latino actors in the television and film industry, Gina Rodriguez created an internet campaign called #MovementMondays. Even though her goal was to feature a Latino actor every Monday on her social media accounts, this campaign led to the recognition and praise of not just actors, but directors, producers, writers, comedians, and activists. While I recognize some of the Latinas Rodriguez has highlighted, there is so much more I learned about many amazing Latina women.
One of the actors Rodriguez recognized is Rita Moreno.
#MovementMondays RITA MORENO Rita Moreno is an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony winning Puerto Rican-American actress, dancer and singer. She is one of 12 performers to have won all four-major annual American entertainment awards. She has won numerous other awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor. Moreno has broken new ground for Latino’s in the field of entertainment through her career which has spanned over 70 years. From her work in The King and I, The Electric Company(which earned her a Grammy), Oz, to her current appearances in Jane the Virgin. Currently, she is can be seen starring in Netflix’s reboot of the Norman Lear sitcom One Day at a Time. She told The Hollywood Reporter how quickly the cast began to feel like a real family, possibly because they were all Latinos. “But here's what's brilliant about the writing,” she said. “There is a beautiful balance that takes place so that the [non-Latino] audience isn't left out. The writers room is like the U.N. There are gay writers, Latinos, Asians — everybody is in there.” In 1961, Moreno also made history as the first Latina to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Anita in the film version of West Side Story. In an interview with NPR, she remembers comedian Liz Torres telling her that she watched the awards ceremony that year at her place in Spanish Harlem, “And she said when my name was announced the place went up in smoke. There was screaming and yelling and hugging and jumping up and down and people yelling out the windows, 'She did it! She did it!' in Spanish and in English…A friend of mine said to me, ‘You know what they were really saying? We did it. We did it.’” One Day at a Time has wrapped Season Two and we can not wait to see what Rita does this season! With the Globes and Sag awards being void of Latinx actor nominees, I vote for Rita for her work on One day at a Time. ??
With her latest role in the Netflix sitcom “One Day at a Time,” Moreno has been working and growing as an actress, dancer, and singer for over 70 years now.
Rodriguez also showed her appreciation for comedian, actress, writer, and producer Cristela Alonzo.
#MovementMondays Cristela Alonzo is a Mexican-American comedian, actress, writer, and producer born to immigrant parents. She is best known for her ABC sitcom Cristela, which made her the first Latina woman to create, produce, write, and star in her own US network show. Born in San Juan, Texas to a single mother, Alonzo lived the first years of her life squatting in an abandoned diner while her mother worked a double shift as a waitress. Her mother taught her to value things that people take for granted, like electricity and having available water. She taught her kids that the United States was the land that would give them a chance at life. Alonzo learned English from watching TV as her family spoke only Spanish at home. Television was a way for the family to stay inside, avoiding the violence from drug trafficking in their neighborhood. In a 2016 feature in Time Magazine during Immigrant Heritage Month, Alonzo explained: “My mom came to this country so her kids could have a fighting chance. And every single thing my family has in our lives is due to this country giving us the chance to work hard to get it…” she went on to say, “We are a family taught to love the United States by a woman born in Mexico.” In 2003, after Alonzo’s mother died, she began doing stand-up as a way to process grief and talk about her family. She spent a lot of time on the road doing comedy tours with other comics. Since, she has appeared on Conan, Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Gabriel Iglesias Presents Stand Up Revolution, @midnight, Last Comic Standing, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Live at Gotham. In January 2014, Alonzo was named as one of "10 L.A. Comedy Acts to Watch in 2014" by L.A. Weekly. She was also named one of "13 Funny Women to Watch in 2014" by Cosmopolitan. In January 2017, Alonzo debuted her first Netflix original stand-up special, Cristela Alonzo: Lower Classy. This past summer, Alonzo voiced Cruz Ramirez in the Disney-Pixar film Cars 3: Driven to Win. Follow @cristela9 to see where she will do Stand up in your area and to support her current projects!
Even though I recognize Alonzo from her hilarious standup comedy, what I didn’t know is that she is the first Latina woman to create, produce, write, and star in her own network show, “Cristela.”
Also a game changer in the film industry is Gina Torres, who opens up about how difficult pursuing a career in film and television has been for her.
#MovementMondays Gina Torres is an American television and film actress born with multiracial Cuban descent. She has appeared in many television series, including Xena: Warrior Princess, Alias, Firefly, Castle, 24, Suits, The Shield, Hannibal, and Westworld. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month in 2015, Gina wrote a blog entry in The Huffington Post. In the post she exclaimed, “Nevertheless, I happily became a willing participant in an industry that has a really hard time seeing me as a Latina woman. This Business of Show that has an incredibly unapologetic history of eradicating ethnicity, changing names and hairlines and, well… history. I honestly didn’t see it coming. Much like the Cold War, Hollywood’s past had nothing on me. Has it been challenging? Even heart breaking? At times, yes. Soul crushing? Por favor! Ignorance doesn’t get to define me! And pretending all this deliciousness isn’t Cuban, doesn’t make it so. And so, like my parents before me, I saw a future in a world I believe in, and I continue to make space and create realities that are truer reflections of the world we live in.” You can currently see Gina as Agent Justine Diaz on season 2 of The Catch on ABC. #MovementMondays #ginatorres
Torres admits it’s been a challenge, but her goal is to “continue to make space and create realities that are truer reflections of the world we live in.”
With very few Latina film directors, Rodriguez made sure to highlight Mexican director, writer, and producer, Patricia Riggen.
#MovementMondays Patricia Riggen is a Mexican director, writer, and producer born in Guadalajara, Jalisco. She became known for Under the Same Moon and the TV movie Lemonade Mouth. Most recently, she directed Girl in Progress with Eva Mendes, Miracles from Heaven with Jennifer Garner, as well as The 33 with Antonio Banderas. While in her home country, Riggen obtained a degree in communication sciences and worked as a journalist. It wasn’t until later that Riggen found her way into writing and producing film, though she never thought she would end up as a director, comparing the chances of landing a career as a director to the chances of landing a career as an astronaut – slim to none. She moved to New York City, where she received her Master's degree in directing and screenwriting at Columbia University. On finally finding her calling, Riggen says, “it never crossed my mind to be a director, and I'll tell you why: because I'm a woman. It just didn't occur to me, but I knew I had to be in film. I finally moved to Mexico City, where the film industry is. I started working there as a producer, which is a very, very valid thing for women to do, because we always produce for men, right? I was pretty successful but I was really unhappy, so I thought, ‘I'm going to go back to school, I'm going to pay for a master's degree…” Riggen is also now one of the most high-profile Latina film directors in Hollywood, she told Latina Trends – “I feel like a rare species. We’re so underrepresented in general–women in film, Latinas in film. I worked really hard, and there’s a lot of competition out there, but I have never experienced discrimination ever I moved here [Los Angeles]. I saw people believing in me, and started believing in myself.”
As much as I love the movie “Under the Same Moon,” I never knew it was a Mexican woman from the same town as my parents who had directed the film. This makes me love the movie 10-times more.
Rodriguez also pays tribute to Latina actress and breast cancer survivor, Lida Vidal.
#MovementMondays Lisa Vidal is an American actress with Puerto Rican descent. Vidal has been seen in shows from New York Undercover, High Incident, The Division, to CSI: Miami, Law & Order and Rosewood. Since 2013, Vidal has starred alongside Gabrielle Union in the BET drama Being Mary Jane that recently finished its fourth season. In 2014, Vidal talked Latina Magazine about the future of Latinos on TV: “I think the future of television for Latinos is like we’re finally waking up, I feel like we’ve been asleep for a long ass time. And I have a lot of respect for the African American community, how they fight for each other. They go out there they watch their movies they watch their shows. They support. They make it a point to say something if they don’t see a person of color on something and they’re not being represented. They have producers and writers out there writing for other African American actors, making sure they put them on shows. Latinos have to do the same thing. We have to support one another; we have to make it a point to seek each other out and to highlight each other.” Vidal has been a great advocate and role model for Latinas beyond her acting roles. As a survivor of breast cancer in 2016, Vidal has opened up about her treatment. On an episode of The Real, Vidal said: "I just really want young women—Latina women, especially women of color—to understand how important it is to get early detection. So many women are afraid, and it's like the fear that holds you back could be life-threatening, and it's just not worth it to do that."
In addition to the significance of supporting one another as Latinos in the film industry, Vidal also aims to bring awareness to breast cancer and the importance of being checked by a doctor early on.
Dominican-American actress, Judy Reyes, is another go-getter who encourages every Latina to step out of their comfort zone.
#movementmondays JUDY REYES Judy Reyes is an American television actress, born in The Bronx, New York to Dominican parents. She is best known for her roles as Carla Espinosa on Scrubs, Zoila Diaz in Devious Maids, and Dina Milagro on Jane the Virgin. When asked about what it’s like to work with such a diverse cast, Reyes told Latina, “They’re awesome: creative and talented. I have been extraordinarily blessed to jump from one all-female lead cast in Devious Maids to another. I can’t be more fortunate…And they are all real women, the sizes, the beauty, and what they’re bringing to their roles. It’s such a great school to be around, in front of and behind the camera.” Reyes also recognizes the responsibility and hard work that comes with telling these stories, and she is confident that stories like the ones she is telling will be told more and more. “I’ve had the incredible good fortune to work consistently, but it’s about stepping outside of the box,” she says. “That requires an extraordinary amount of work and artistically it is painful. There’s a comfort zone that yields work, a job after a job after a job. And there’s a level of dissatisfaction creatively, but you have to find your balls. You have to do that for yourself and it’s really scary.” Currently, she can be seen starring as Quiet Ann in the TNT crime dramedy Claws. She and the entire cast are outstanding don't miss Claws!!!
As important as it is to tell our stories, Reyes points out how it’s equally important to challenge ourselves creatively when it comes to the execution of these stories.
Also featured in the #MovementMondays mix is Argentine actress, Stephanie Beatriz, who you may recognize from the Fox comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”
CREDIT: @HEREISGINA / INSTAGRAM
Despite her comedic chops, Beatriz has also taken on a more serious role in the independent film “The Light of the Moon,” which focuses on sexual assault. Beatriz hopes that stories like these encourage more and more women to speak their truth.
When it comes to role models for children, there is Aimee Carrero, a Dominican actress and Disney star.
#movementmondays Aimee Carrero is a Dominican Actress. Carrero was born in in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and grew up in Miami, Florida (you can find her in the youtube sketch “Shit Miami Girls Say…and guys”). While studying International Relations at Florida International University, she aspired to be a lawyer. But, before she started filling out law school applications, she hopped on a plane to Los Angeles. Carrero has appeared on a lot of shows since then including: Level Up, Blue Lagoon: The Awakening, Lincoln Heights, Men of a Certain Age, The Middle, Greek, Baby Daddy, and The Americans. In 2012, Carrero made her off-broadway debut in Atlantic Theater Company’s world premiere play, What Rhymes with America. Since 2014, Carrero has starred in Freeform sitcom Young & Hungry, alongside Emily Osment. In 2015, it was announced that Carrero will be providing the voice of Elena, Disney's first Latina fairy tale princess for the Disney Channel series Elena of Avalor. The animated series premiered in July 2016, quickly became television's #1 series for Girls age 2-11 in the U.S. and is honored with a National Hispanic Media Coalition Award and an Annie Award nomination. It will be going into its 3rd season this year. Carrero told Popsugar on landing the role, "For me, it's like one of the most amazing things to ever happen to me, because I think growing up, you want to see yourself represented in stories and you want to see your culture highlighted. I think this has been something people have been wanting for a long time.”
In addition to appearing in several television shows, Carrero is also the voice for Elena, Disney’s first Latina fairy tale princess for the TV show, “Elena of Avalor.”
There is also the amazing and talented pair, Allegra Acosta and Ariela Barer, who star in the TV series “Marvel’s Runaways.”
#MovementMondays ALLEGRA ACOSTA / ARIELA BARER (Marvel’s Runaways) Gotta love Latina Super-Power! Allegra & Ariela representing in the new series Marvel’s Runaways! Allegra Acosta is a 14-year-old American actress and singer. Born in El Paso, Texas, to immigrant parents from Mexico, Acosta began singing and dancing at a young age. In 2012, she and her family moved to Los Angeles so that she could pursue her acting career. She can be seen is shows such as Amazon’s Just Add Magic & Nickelodeon’s 100 Things to Do Before Highschool. Her first major onscreen role is Molly Hernandez, the first Latina superhero, in the new Marvel Comic Series Runaways for Hulu. Acosta told Newsweek: “It’s so important to be playing a young Latina character,” Acosta said. “Fourteen is this critical stage in my life—I’m pressured to fit into a certain category. Suddenly my body is getting labeled. Molly looks like me, and other Latina girls can relate to our struggle. Like, when I was younger I used to think I had to straighten my curly hair for boys to like me. But that’s total BS!” Acosta is starring alongside Ariela Barer, her on-screen adopted sister Gert (another Latina superhero!). Ariela Barer is an American actress with Mexican descent. She started acting professionally at the age of 9. One of her first major recurring role was Nickelodeon’s Yo! Gabba Gabba. She can also be seen on shows such as New Girl on Fox, One Day at a Time and ATypical for Netflix. Barer originally auditioned for Molly, the only listed Latina role in Marvel’s Runaways, however, the showrunners steered her towards the role of Gert – a strong, independent, cynical, and outspoken teen. She told Newsweek: “The thing I love about her is that she’s the trope of an angry feminist that’s been around and turning it on its head,” Barer said. “She’s a human person with rational emotions. You sympathize with her, rather than with the male character who is calling her crazy.” Catch these talented Latinas in Marvels new Runaways on Hulu! SO PROUD OF YOU LADIES! #LatinaLove #fierclylatina
These talented women not only increase the representation of young Latinas in television and film, but also serve as proof that being an actress is possible with hard work and dedication.
With more attention to the representation of Latinas in Marvel, Rodriguez gives a shout out to Gabby Rivera.
#MovementMondays Gabby Rivera is an American writer and “self-proclaimed nerdburger,” Gabby Rivera grew up in the Bronx and is of Puerto Rican descent. Her critically acclaimed debut novel Juliet Takes a Breath follows a queer puertorriqueña who leaves the Bronx bustle for a summer in Portland, Oregon, where she interns for her fave feminist author Harlow Brisbane. It was listed by Mic as one of the 25 essential books to read for women’s history month and it was called the “dopest LGBTQA YA book ever” by Latina Magazine. Due to her rising success, Rivera will be the first queer Latina to voice a Marvel Comic character – America Chavez. America is a Latina, queer, superpowered and super-popular character who made a name for herself in the pages of super-team titles “Young Avengers” and “The Ultimates.” According to Rivera’s interview with The Washington Post, “The series “is definitely going to tackle America’s ancestry and ethnicity. But it won’t be as neat as some folks might want it to be. For me, being Latina is really damn complicated, especially when it comes to tracing my roots,” Rivera said. “America’s going to wonder where she really came from and who her people are. She’s going to explore what it means to be brown across the dimensions. And like many people who’ve had to leave home at a young age, she’s dealing with that feeling of disconnect, the you’re a foreigner here and out of place when you go ‘home’ type of feeling.” Rivera also exclaimed, “I get to see groups of little brown girls and their moms all done up in their America Chavez cosplay gear. And the stories that we tell through ‘America’ will be part of their pop culture experience,” Rivera said. “And, hell yeah, there’s pressure, but also I love it and it’s making me a better writer. It’s a blessing.” Gabby Rivera, today we celebrate you! @quirkyrican
This Puerto Rican-American writer will be the first queer Latina to voice a Marvel Comic Character – America Chavez.
Last but not least, there is Iris Morales, Puerto Rican attorney, filmmaker, educator, and activist.
#MovementMondays Iris Morales the woman who wrote “Through The Eyes of Rebel Women” Iris Morales, a Puerto Rican attorney, filmmaker, educator, and activist, also considered as the “Female Robin Hood of the 21st Century in East Harlem.” In 1969, She was the first woman to join The Young Lords Party and quickly became a leading member. This movement originated in Chicago and established a branch in Harlem, which had similar goals and methods like the Black Panthers. Morals brought forward an agenda concerned with feminism and the oppression of women. She held the position of the Deputy Minister of Education and leader of its Women’s Union organizing Puerto Rican communities for racial, economic and social justice. As a grassroots activist she fought for better housing and schooling for her Latino community. In 1975, Morales enrolled in New York University School of Law where she received her J.D.Morales is a graduate of New York University School of Law, where she was a Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar, the first Puerto Rican to receive the prestigious fellowship. She also earned an MFA in integrated media arts from Hunter College. For 30 years, she has helped develop organizations dedicated to grassroots organizing and community empowerment, such as the Manhattan Neighborhood Network, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the New Educational Opportunities Network. Morales is an inspirational activist who has dedicated her life to change and the advancement of the Puerto Rican community.
Who else do you think Gina Rodriguez should feature in her internet campaign #MovementMondays?