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These Characters Are Showing How Versatile Latina Actresses Are

It used to feel like every time Latinas were on screen they were playing some kind of help. Not anymore! Now, we’re living in an era where Latinas are slaying the small screen in an array of different roles. Here are 9 badass Latina TV characters who are breaking the mold.

1. Jane Villanueva from “Jane the Virgin”

A new #JaneTheVirgin is TONIGHT at 9/8c!

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All hail the QUEEN! Listen, it’s not secret “Jane the Virgin” is my favorite show. I’ve written about it here, here, and here. But the glue that holds it all together? The title character of Jane; she’s a passionate, whip-smart, incredibly talented writer, mother, and wife, and hands-down the driving force of the show. She’s one of the most well-written television characters in the last 10 years, and I’m so excited to see where the writers bring her in the future.

2. Valencia Perez from “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”



Valencia Perez is the kind of girl we love to hate; beautiful, a yoga instructor, and the apple of almost everyone’s eye. The great thing about “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” is that they don’t just make her a bitch because she was dating Josh (Rebecca’s old flame) – she’s a character that feels like a real person, and Gabrielle Ruiz plays her perfectly. 

3. Rosita Espinosa from “The Walking Dead”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BN67POJh5kh/

Hey, if you’re still alive during the Zombie Apocalypse, you automatically get so many badass points. Rosita Espinosa is still kicking it (but with this show, who knows for how long), and she’s become one of the show’s most central characters. Whether it’s her friendship with Eugene, or her kickass fighting, walker-killing skills, she’s definitely someone that sticks out in the series.

4. Dr. Callie Torres in “Grey’s Anatomy”



Dr. Callie Torres appeared in 240 episodes of the mega hit “Grey’s Anatomy.” That’s pretty damn impressive. She was strong, loved dancing, and an orthopedic queen. You better believe that on a show like “Grey”‘sthis character has gone through some major ups and downs, which only makes her an amazing multi-dimensional character.

5. Rosa Diaz from “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”

Day 345 of 2016. Rosa knows ? #brooklyn99 #nypd #rosadiaz #booty

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Let me count the ways I love this AMAZING CHARACTER. Wait – there are too many. Is it possible to be in love with a fictional character but also to be terrified by them? She is tough as nails, and you don’t want to mess with her. But you kind of have to be scary when you’re a detective, right?

6. Amy Santiago from “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”

Amy is my favorite I sob?? #brooklyn99 #amysantiago #melissafumero @melissafumero

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When you’ve got not one but two incredible Latinas on a show, you know it’s gotta be BOMB. Amy Santiago, while not as scary as Rosa, is still one you don’t want to mess with. She’s also hilarious, as exhibited above.

7. Harlee Santos from “Shades of Blue”

What are you looking at? #ShadesofBlue

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Listen, Jennifer Lopez can do no wrong. I would follow her to the ends of the earth and back again. So when it was announced a year or two back that she’d be top lining NBC’s “Shades of Blue,” the world rejoiced. J.Lo. As a cop. On our TV screens every week. I MEAN, IS THERE A DOWNSIDE TO THIS AT ALL? I THINK NOT.

8. Gloria Delgado-Pritchett from “Modern Family”



It might at first appear that Gloria hits the stereotypes of a Latina we actively work against: oversexed, loud, and ridiculous. But anyone that watches the show knows that it’s not the case; Gloria is layered and an awesome mom, hilarious, and eccentric. She’s been in the TV game for a long time and we’re super thankful for it.

9. Xiomara Villanueva from “Jane the Virgin”

Xiomara delivers an intimate concert experience on #JaneTheVirgin, TONIGHT at 9/8c!

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XO is such an incredible character on “Jane the Virgin.” Which is no surprise because this show rocks. Can you tell how much I love it?! XO is flawed and that’s what makes her so real. She’s funny, has a wild side, is an insanely talented singer, and doesn’t always make the best decisions – but if there’s one thing about XO, it’s that she loves fiercely. Ugh, I want to be her best friend, please.

QUIZ: We Can Guess Your Mom’s Favorite TV Show

Who are your favorite Latinas on TV? Let us know in the comments below and show these actresses some love by hitting the share button below!

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

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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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Isabella Gomez Says Her Character Elena On ‘One Day At A Time’ Will Navigate Teen Sex And Gender Identity In Season 3

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Isabella Gomez Says Her Character Elena On ‘One Day At A Time’ Will Navigate Teen Sex And Gender Identity In Season 3

Fans of the hysterical Netflix reboot One Day at a Time have a busy weekend ahead of them.

The series, which follows the Alvarez family, a Cuban-American single mother, her teenage children and their grandmother living in Los Angeles, returns for its third season on Friday, Feb. 8.

Closing with an intense finale to season 2, where family members grieved the possible death of abuela Lydia, played by Rita Moreno, before she awoke from a coma, Isabella Gomez, who plays Elena, tells us new episodes are as lively as ever, with laughter inevitable and family bonds strengthened.

“The whole family is affected by what happens. I think it’s that instance of realizing that your parents and your grandparents aren’t superheroes and they’re also getting older and are going to eventually die, as we all do,” the Medellín, Colombia-born actress told FIERCE.

Gomez, 20, reveals that her own character, a queer teen and student activist, also matures, both as a person and as a partner in a relationship with a nonbinary character named Syd. Throughout the 13-episode season, Elena and her family explore issues pivotal to her teen romance, like gender identity and sex.

We chatted with Gomez about the importance of showing teenagers navigate LGBTQ relationships on television, why One Day at a Time, which tackles modern-day social and political matters with family-friendly humor, is critical right now, why Latinxs in particular should be supporting this series and so much more.

FIERCE: So that season 2 finale was intense, to say the least. Amid the tears and laughs, one of the things that stuck out to me was what your character Elena tells Lydia, played by Rita Moreno, as she’s lying in the hospital bed. She’s applying lipstick on her grandmother and apologizing for forgetting Spanish and, as a result, losing that connection to her. This is the case for so many second- and third-generation Latinas, and it really is heartbreaking feeling like you can’t communicate or, in this case, more intimately get to know someone you love so much. What is something you think Lydia has taught Elena that didn’t need words?

Isabella: I mean, I feel like Lydia and Elena do talk a lot. Lydia has a lot to say, so if there is anything that she wants to teach Elena, she would definitely say it. But I think Lydia’s pride about who she is, regardless of what other people think, which I think is something Elena touches on in that speech when she’s in a coma. Lydia is so unapologetically herself, even though people have problems with certain aspects of her personality, that doesn’t make her stop being herself or want to change for anybody else. She’s so proud of who she has become and what it has taken for her to get there. I think that is something Elena really looks up to, with a different aspect, obviously. Elena is LGBTQ and has that to go through and she’s also very active in activism so she has that to go through, and it’s very different things, but it’s also hard for her because people don’t like it, including her own family, which gives her crap for it. But I think she looks up to Lydia so much in that, and I think it’s something that Lydia wants to teach her, Penelope and Alex.

FIERCE: Season three, Lydia is back home. Do we see a difference in the relationship between her and her family, particularly Elena, after that terrifying moment?

Isabella: Absolutely. The whole family is affected by what happens. I think it’s that instance of realizing that your parents and your grandparents aren’t superheroes and they’re also getting older and are going to eventually die, as we all do. But because Lydia is who she is, and she’s their superwoman, I think it comes as a shock to everybody and things definitely change because of it. I think it hit Elena, maybe not especially hard because of the way she deals with it, because Elena is not as outwardly as the rest of her family. For them, it’s an emotional thing. For Elena, she tries to make sure that it’s not going to happen again and makes sure that Lydia is OK, and we do get to see that this season.

FIERCE: Another relationship that is developing is the one between Elena and Syd, Elena’s nonbinary partner. This is Elena’s, who came out as lesbian in season 1, first serious relationship, and it’s with someone who is gender-nonconforming. What is this like for her to navigate?

Isabella: I think it’s both hard and easy in the sense of Elena is so open to learning and this is kind of right up her ally in the sense that she always wants to work toward inclusivity and wants to make sure that everybody feels safe, regardless of who they like or how they identify. So it’s definitely a learning process, and, in this season, we see them doing that and having those conversations. We see Elena and Syd thinking about this, because in season 2, we call Syd Elena’s girlfriend, which isn’t correct because Syd doesn’t identify as a girl. And so we see them having those conversations and having conversations about who they are in public and outside of the home, and what this relationship means to other people and how that’s going to affect them. But I think those are hard conversations to have, but I think it’s conversations that Elena loves to have, because it just equips her to educate other people.

FIERCE: It’s also been a bit tricky for Elena’s mom and grandmother. In the season 3 trailer, we watch them trying to come up with a gender-neutral pet name for Syd. But there’s also an episode in the season where Elena talks about being ready to have sex and Penelope struggling with how to help since she’s not familiar with same-sex intercourse. What do you think is the importance of this scene?

Isabella: I think it’s so important. I think the way our society views sex and talks about sex and the images that are in social media, and media in general, about sex can be so incredibly damaging, especially for LGBTQ people because there are so many misconceptions, especially for lesbians and people of non-conforming identities, too. Because it’s always been seen through the gaze of the male eye, and that can’t be the case here, and I think having this conversation will not only be helpful to LGBTQ people but everybody, because sex is so taboo. Schools don’t teach us enough about it. Sex ed, those classes are a joke. I’ve taken them in Florida, and they’re a joke. I’ve taken them in California, and it’s also a joke. And most parents don’t feel comfortable enough to have these conversations with their kids, so then their kids don’t grow up having positive conversations about sex, which means then when they have a sexual partner, most of the time, they’re not having sex-positive conversations with them, which I’ve experienced in my own life and it has been damaging to me. And most of my friends, if not all, have had the same experience. I believe it’s the same for a lot of us that are younger, so I think seeing people have these conversations, you know, between Syd and Elena, and talking about consent, and talking about why are we doing this and are we ready, what does sex mean to us, because sex means different things to everybody, and that’s totally OK, but you have to make sure that people are on the same page. Having these conversations between Elena and her mom, and seeing how they deal with it and showing how, yes, it’s going to be an uncomfortable thing to talk about, but it’s literally the reason there is life and it’s such a huge part of our lives and it’s so necessary to talk about it to make sure that people are being safe, that they’re comfortable, that they’re enjoying it, because it’s supposed to be enjoyable. It doesn’t have to be this stressful thing, so we have to have conversations about it.

FIERCE: One of the things I love about Elena is that she’s so inquisitive. What’s something she learns about herself, or the world around her, in this season?

Isabella: I think Elena has grown a lot in this season. She has always kind of put up this energy where she wants to seem strong all the time, because it’s easier to be mad or attack or really defend your point of view than to feel hurt or let yourself process those emotions of sadness or betrayal. I think in this season she learns that it’s OK and necessary to be able to breathe and get through situations that are hard, and I think we see her allowing herself to have conversations and feelings where she’s uncomfortable with how she feels but is still understanding that it’s OK for her to feel that way and it’s OK for her to talk about it.

FIERCE: For many LGBTQ Latinxs, Elena Alvarez is the first time they feel seen or affirmed on screen. What is that like for you, to offer this long-overdo representation?

Isabella: It’s such a dream. I’ve said this a million times in interviews, but, as an actor, you just want to work, you just want to get a role, but to be able to play Elena and selfishly be able to have this artistic outlet, wow. She’s so fun to play because there’s so much there. She’s so layered. She’s so cultured. She’s so nuanced. She’s so intelligent. I learn so much from Elena, and that’s incredible. But for that to also mean something to people and affect their lives genuinely and make them feel seen and make them feel happy and represented and like maybe things are going to get easier, it is such a privilege. And also to have gained this incredible community, because I’m so lucky to have the LGBTQ community embrace me as one of their own. And I think they are some of the most lovely, caring people there are, and so to have that now, and have all these people help me learn and become more worldly and more educated, to make sure I can be the best ally that I can be, is also a very beautiful thing.

FIERCE: As someone who doesn’t identify as queer, how do you ensure that you are playing this character authentically and respectfully?

Isabella: First, for me, sexuality is a spectrum, and when I was younger, I definitely had instances of “girls are attractive and I think girls are hot, and what is that,” so I can identify with a very small part of that, of like questioning that, but also I try to listen more than I talk. And I’ve realized as the seasons have gone on that I am a vessel for this story, but it’s not my story to tell, so I need to make sure that I am getting as much information from the LGBTQ community as possible. So that means our writers, first off, because we have incredible  LGBTQ writers who write a lot of my storyline and who are always available to me to talk to, which is such a blessing. Also, all of my LGBTQ friends and I have sat down and had so many conversations on what I’m doing and what they think about the script and all of that. And also once the first season came out, it opened up to the audience. And all of us, not just me, the creators, the writer, the cast, we all make sure that we are doing right by this community and that whatever concerns they have we try to address in the next season and just making sure we are telling this story accurately and from their point of view instead of just having it be a fun thing for me to play.

FIERCE: In 2019, why do you think this series, and the issues it brilliantly and hilariously explores, is particularly important?

Isabella: I think we are at a point of a lot of aggression and defensiveness, and that’s understandable, because the world is pretty scary right now, but it’s so hard for people to learn when they’re in this mindset. So for us to put these issues in comedy makes it so that people are relaxed and do not feel like they’re being lectured when they’re watching our show, and then they get to have this information that they otherwise wouldn’t get because they would be trying to fight their political views instead of listening. So that’s why I think it’s so important for not only our show, but for TV shows in general to talk about these issues, if that’s what they want to do, of course, because to each their own. But a lot of people learn through TV, movies and books. That’s how a lot of people get their information, so being able to sprinkle these subjects in and see how a real family will talk about them and see real different points of views, because that’s another thing, we try to make sure that we are not saying, “this is what you should think about this and this.” We are saying, “this is the information from all of these points of views, now you make your own decision, but let that be informed.” So I think it’s very important to talk about these things and it also makes sense, because the Alvarezes are a family of immigrants living in LA in 2019. Of course they’re affected by the world around them, so it only make sense that they would talk about those things.

FIERCE: There was some uncertainty around whether or not Netflix would return One Day at a Time for a season 3, and activists and fans urged the streaming service to renew the show. Considering the role audiences play in series’ futures and the significance of One Day at a Time to so many communities, why do you think Latinx viewers in particular should be watching and supporting this show?

Isabella: I think that the Latinx community needs to be watching because we can’t keep complaining about not having representation and then not supporting the representation that is out there. And that doesn’t just mean our show; that means the other shows that are out there, too, so Jane the Virgin or Superstore. It doesn’t have to be all-Latinx shows. It can be shows with Latinx leads that offer accurate and positive portrayals of us. What a lot of people don’t understand about our industry is views are money, so if the Latinx community is asking to be represented, and then they’re not watching the shows, what they’re telling the studio is that Latinx shows don’t make money. People don’t want to watch them. People are not interested. And that means we’re not going to make another Latinx show, because why would we? Nobody is watching. So it’s so important for the Latinx community to be watching and telling the studios this is exactly what we want, we like this and we like these portrayals of the Latinx community.

One Day at a Time Season 3 hits Netflix on Friday, Feb. 8.

Read: We Talked To ‘Roswell, New Mexico’ Star Jeanine Mason About Otherness And Representation

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