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22 Strong Latinos On TV Who Awesomely Defy Stereotypes

It’s no secret that representation of Latinos on TV is, to put it mildly, not great.  Very few are present in mainstream TV and movies and, more often than not, we’re cast to play stereotypes and/or minor roles. The world needs to see more realistic Latinos reflected back into their living rooms. You know, the awkward Latinos. The smart Latinos. The downright weird Latinos. So let’s take a moment to celebrate the awesomely odd Latinos on TV we DO get to see (and hope that soon we’ll get to see many, many more):

1. April Ludgate

Parks And Recreation / NBC

April was not here to entertain you, be the sassy best friend or be reduced to just another pretty face. In fact, she’d rather you not be happy at all, because super happy people are kind of annoying. It was pretty great (and different) to have a Latina on TV who was smart, sarcastic and flawlessly flawed.

2. Amy Santiago

NBC

We say this with love: Amy’s a dork. Like, the dorkiest dork who ever dorked. But her dorky weirdness is just so endearing! She’s a people pleaser, an overachiever and truly, incredibly, hopelessly awkward. Just like a lot of us are, tbh.

3. Rosa Diaz

Brooklyn Nine-Nine / FOX

Rosa is a badass to the core, but don’t let her tough exterior fool you: she is layered and is half of the greatest current-day sitcom friendships we’ve seen in a while. Her toughness is balanced by the fact that she’s… kind of weird. Like, owns-an-ax-and-doesn’t-let-her-coworkers-know-where-she-lives level weird.

4. Cristela Hernandez

Cristela / ABC

Cristela was a combination of incredibly ambitious and kiiiind of prone to complaining, which is realistic af to most of us. Sure, she wasn’t always the nicest sister or best employee in the whole world, but she was always smart, loyal, funny as hell and HUMAN.

5. Carmen Peña

Que Pasa USA / PBS

Carmen was, in a word, awkward. Especially around dudes. She was the good kid while her brother, Joe, was the troublemaker of the family. It’s a dynamic a lot of girls growing up in Latino families, especially immigrant and exile families, can really relate to. Cheers to the weird, nerdy girls!

6. Jane Villanueva of Jane the Virgin

CREDIT:  Jane the Virgin / CW

The beloved Jane is a Latina character who doesn’t rely on heavy accents or maid costumes. Gina Rodriguez plays a witty Latina who is focused on her goals. But, she’s got to grapple with bringing to full term a baby that she was accidentally inseminated with. Yea, wrap your head around that last sentence. #AsiEslaVida

7. Laurel Castillo of How to Get Away with Murder (Karla Souza)

CREDIT: How to Get Away With Murder / ABC

Mexican actress Karla Souza plays the sharp and intrepid Laurel Castillo, who has both the wits to aide her law professor in solving court cases, as well as an under-the-radar darkness that keeps viewers on their toes. Laurel’s last name made us question if she had Latina roots, and the show answered our hypothesis when she was shown in a flashback with her Spanish-speaking Florida family.

8. Rodrigo de Souza of Mozart in the Jungle (Gael García Bernal)

CREDIT: Mozart in the Jungle / Amazon Studios

Gael Garcia Bernal’s character Rodrigo De Souza, an eccentric conductor trying to keep the magic of symphony orchestra alive, is based off the real-life Latino conductor who is bringing the joy of classical music to thousands: Gustavo Dudamel.  So it was a double ? ? that Gael won a Golden Globe for his performance! A real “si se puede” moment.

9. Alonzo Gutierrez of American Crime (Benito Martinez)

CREDIT: American Crime / ABC

The first season of this ABC network show featured several Latino characters. However, we couldn’t be particularly proud of them since they were having run-ins with the law. Benito Martinez’s character, Alonzo Gutiérrez, stood out from the bunch though as the hardworking and dedicated father of character Tony.

10. Daya of Orange is the New Black (Dascha Polanco)

CREDIT: Orange is the New Black / Netflix

Dascha’s character Dayanara “Daya” Diaz has an intriguing backstory and storyline in OITNB. Although drugs are involved with her character’s history, the circumstances surrounding her story still make us proud. And of course, OITNB has brought a whole host of Latinas – Diane Guerrero, Jackie Cruz among them – into the spotlight. We applaud that!

11. Chava of Club de Cuervos (Luis Gerardo Méndez)

CREDIT: Club de Cuervos / Netflix US & Canada

Netflix made the push into Latin America by premiering its first Spanish-language series, Club de Cuervos. The comedy stars Luis Gerardo Méndez as Chava, a spoiled party boy who inherits his late father’s club soccer team. Despite having more experience partying with players than managing a huge corporation, Chava swears he has ALL the right answers (spoilers: he doesn’t). Futbol and #Netflixandchill? We’re in!

12. Harlee Santos of Shades of Blue (Jennifer Lopez)

CREDIT: Shades of Blue / NBC

J.Lo is back on the small screen, everyone!!!  This time, as tough NY detective Harlee Santos. After years of doing not-quite-by-the-book police work, Santos has to do whatever it takes to protect her family. We know Jenny from the Block kicks ass in real life (fashion, live dance routines, being a fierce #cougar), and now we’re excited to see her do it on TV.

13. Manny

Modern Family / ABC

Manny is basically an old man trapped in a kid’s body. He takes his coffee black, values good old-fashioned manners and dresses like your dad at a family BBQ. He’s weird in the most awesome way, especially because he doesn’t compromise who he is to fit in. Do you, Manny.

14. Flaca

Orange Is The New Black / Netflix

How often do we get to see emo/goth/alt Latinos on TV? Flaca, besides having impeccable taste in music, is an example of taking a character that could very easily have been reduced to a stereotype, and making her complex, complicated and someone we’ll always want to know more about it.

15. Betty Suarez

Ugly Betty / ABC

Betty started off as a fish out of water in the fashion world, her quirkiness and awkwardness confusing many of those around her. She didn’t really fit in with the beauty standards of her peers and she knew it. Eventually, she developed a sense of confidence and independence that we couldn’t help but root for. Stay awk, Betty.

16. Rickie Vasquez  from “My So-Called Life”

CREDIT: ABC
CREDIT: 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.

17. A.C. Slater from “Saved by the Bell”

CREDIT: 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.

18. Ashley Banks from “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”

CREDIT: Warner Bros. Television Distribution
CREDIT: 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.

19. Valencia Perez from “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend / CW

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. 

20. Rosita Espinosa from “The Walking Dead”

Walking Dead / AMC

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.

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

“Grey’s Anatomy” / ABC

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.

22. Penelope from “One Day At A Time”

One Day At A Time / Netflix

Let’s be real, Penelope Alvarez is the Cubana American television has been deprived of for way too long. From addressing her PTSD to learning how to be an accepting mother of a queer Latina, Penelope is a Latina with a life filled with joys and obstacles. 

23. And finally this kid, who just wants to be hardcore

ChiledeCulto / Youtube.com

Iconic.

READ: 6 Myths Latinas Can’t Live Down Thanks to Stereotypes on TV

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America Ferrera Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Working On ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ With Sweet IG Post

Entertainment

America Ferrera Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Working On ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ With Sweet IG Post

It has been 20 years since America Ferrera’s dream of becoming an actor back true. She took to Instagram to reflect on the moment that her dream started to come true and it is a sweet reminder that anyone can chase their dreams.

America Ferrera shared a sweet post reflecting on the 20th anniversary of working on “Gotta Kick It Up!”

“Gotta Kick It Up!” was one of the earliest examples of Latino representation so many of us remember. The movie follows a school dance team trying to be the very best they could possibly be. The team was down on their luck but a new teacher introduces them to a different kind of music to get them going again.

After being introduced to Latin beats, the dance team is renewed. It taps into a cultural moment for the Latinas on the team and the authenticity of the music makes their performances some of the best.

While the movie meant so much to Latino children seeing their culture represented for the first time, the work was a major moment for Ferrera. In the Instagram post, she gushes over the celebrities she saw on the lot she was working on. Of course, anyone would be excited to see Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt hanging out. Yet, what stands out the most is Ferrera’s own excitement to realize that she can make money doing what she loves most.

“I wish I could go back and tell this little baby America that the next 20 years of her life will be filled with unbelievable opportunity to express her talent and plenty of challenges that will allow her to grow into a person, actress, producer, director, activist that she is very proud and grateful to be. We did it baby girl. I’m proud of us,” Ferrera reflects.

Watch the trailer for “Gotta Kick It Up!” here.

READ: America Ferrera’s “Superstore” Is Going To Get A Spanish-Language Adaptation In A Win For Inclusion

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

Entertainment

This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

On a recent episode of ABC’s game show To Tell The Truth, three celebrity panelists were tasked to uncover the identity of a real mariachi singer.

Each contender embodied “non-traditional” attributes of mariachi culture either through physical appearance or language barriers, leaving the panelists stumped.

When it came time for the big reveal, with a humble smile 53-year-old Timoteo “El Charro Negro” stood up wowing everyone. Marveled by his talents, Timoteo was asked to perform unveiling his smooth baritone voice.

While not a household name in the U.S., his career spans over 25 years thriving on the catharsis of music.

Timoteo “El Charro Negro” performing “Chiquilla Linda” on Dante Night Show in 2017.

Originally from Dallas, Texas, Timoteo, born Timothy Pollard, moved to Long Beach, California with his family when he was eight years old. The move to California exposed Pollard to Latin culture, as the only Black family in a Mexican neighborhood.

As a child, he recalled watching Cantinflas because he reminded him of comedian Jerry Lewis, but musically he “got exposed to the legends by chance.”

“I was bombarded by all the 1960s, ’70s, and ’50s ranchera music,” Timoteo recalls to mitú.

The unequivocal passion mariachi artists like Javier Solis and Vicente Fernandez possessed heavily resonated with him.

“[The neighbors] always played nostalgic music, oldies but goodies, and that’s one thing I noticed about Mexicans,” Timoteo says. “They can be in their 20s but because they’ve grown up listening to the oldies it’s still very dear to them. That’s how they party.”

For as long as he can remember, Pollard “was born with the genetic disposition to love music,” knowing that his future would align with the arts.

After hearing Vicente Fernandez sing “Lástima Que Seas Ajena,” an awakening occurred in Pollard. While genres like hip-hop and rap were on the rise, Pollard’s passion for ranchera music grew. It was a moment when he realized that this genre best suited his big voice.

Enamored, Pollard began to pursue a career as a Spanish-language vocalist.

El Charro Negro
Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

At 28, Timoteo began learning Spanish by listening and singing along to those artists he adored in his youth.

“When I decided that I wanted to be a mariachi, I didn’t think it was fair to exploit the culture and not understand the language,” he says. “If I’m going to sing, I need to be able to communicate with my audience and engage with them. I need to understand what I’m saying because it was about honor and respect.”

Pollard began performing local gigs after picking up the language in a matter of months. He soon attracted the attention of “Big Boy” Radio that adorned him the name Timoteo “El Charro Negro.”

Embellishing his sound to highlight his Black heritage, Pollard included African instruments like congas and bongos in his orchestra. Faintly putting his own spin on a niche genre, Pollard avoided over-saturating the genre’s sound early in his career.

Embraced by his community as a beloved mariachi, “El Charro Negro” still encountered race-related obstacles as a Black man in the genre.

“There are those [in the industry] who are not in the least bit thrilled to this day. They won’t answer my phone calls, my emails, my text messages I’ve sent,” he says. “The public at large hasn’t a problem with it, but a lot of the time it’s those at the helm of decision making who want to keep [the genre] exclusively Mexican.”

“El Charro Negro” persisted, slowly attracting fans worldwide while promoting a message of harmony through his music.

In 2007, 12 years into his career, Pollard received a golden ticket opportunity.

El Charro Negro
Pollard (left) seen with legendary Mexican artist Vicente Fernandez (right) in 2007. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In a by-chance encounter with a stagehand working on Fernandez’s tour, Pollard was offered the chance to perform onstage. The singer was skeptical that the offer was legit. After all, what are the chances?

The next day Pollard went to his day job at the time and said, “a voice in my head, which I believe was God said, ‘wear your blue velvet traje tonight.'”

That evening Pollard went to a sold-out Stockton Area where he met his idol. As he walked on the stage, Pollard recalls Fernandez insisting that he use his personal mic and band to perform “De Que Manera Te Olvido.”

“[Fernandez] said he did not even want to join me,” he recollects about the show. “He just was kind and generous enough to let me sing that song on his stage with his audience.”

The crowd applauded thunderously, which for Pollard was a sign of good things to come.

El Charro Negro
Timoteo “El Charro Negro” with Don Francisco on Don Francisco Presenta in 2011. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In 2010, he released his debut album “Me Regalo Contigo.” In perfect Spanish, Pollard sings with great conviction replicating the soft tones of old-school boleros.

Unraveling the rollercoaster of relationships, heart-wrenchingly beautiful ballads like “Me Regalo Contigo” and “Celos” are his most streamed songs. One hidden gem that has caught the listener’s attention is “El Medio Morir.”

As soon as the track begins it is unlike the others. Timoteo delivers a ’90s R&B love ballad in Spanish, singing with gumption as his riffs and belts encapsulate his unique sound and story.

Having appeared on shows like Sabado Gigante, Don Francisco Presenta, and Caso Cerrado in 2011, Timoteo’s career prospered.

Timoteo hasn’t released an album since 2010 but he keeps his passion alive. The singer has continued to perform, even during the Covid pandemic. He has high hopes for future success and original releases, choosing to not slow down from his destined musical journey.

“If God is with me, who can be against me? It may not happen in a quick period of time, but God will make my enemies my footstool,” he said.

“I’ve continued to be successful and do some of the things I want to do; maybe not in a particular way or in particular events, but I live in a very happy and fulfilled existence.”

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