The 20 Most Fierce Latina Characters on Screen
Fictional characters can be much more than just entertainment. They can influence our lives and the ones around us by showing us all the sides of the human spectrum. They have the capacity to normalize and celebrate all those qualities, imperfections and desires that we thought we didn’t share with others… basically, they have the power to make us feel less alone and less anxious about all the things we thought we were doing wrong in life. That’s why we decided to make a list of all the bad ass Latina characters that we thought are great role models!
1. Callie Torres.
And what best way to start than with kick-ass Dr. Callie Torres, who became some sort pioneer on primetime TV. Not only was she the first bisexual regular characters on a massively successful show but she was a Latina, a mom, married to a woman and not afraid of showing her curves while dancing in her underwear for the world to see. She definitely thought us to be proud of who we are no matter what.
2. Selena Quintanilla.
And who could forget queen Selena? She became the Latina embodiment of the American Dream. Not only was she one of the 1st Latina women to dominate the charts but also became one of the 1st female multi-media artists by branching out and launching her own clothing line, fragrance, and stores. She was a true representant of the Latino identity in a time and place where the Latino culture was still being undervalued.
3. Mamá Imelda.
The matriarch, Mamá Imelda is that strong woman in the family that everyone listens to and respects above all others. She’s the one that took care of her family by starting her own business and teaching everyone the craft. She represents all the wise women in Latino families that give her blood, sweat, and tears for the well being of her loved ones. And yes, she might be tough at times but we all know that everything she does is out of love.
4. Penelope Alvarez.
“One Day At A Time“ is undeniably the most relevant Latino TV show at the moment. The Netflix reboot doesn’t shy away from problems the Latino community is facing today. Characters like Penelope Alvarez are showing us real people with real issues, like the ones of a single mother of 2, breadwinner, veteran, student and daughter who is suffering from PTSD, depression, and anxiety. This show is definitely kicking stigmas in the ass.
5. Jane Villanueva.
Putting the telenovela drama aside, Jane is breaking stereotypes left and right. She’s representing the virgin character in a whole new way. She’s showing us that even though she’s a virgin by choice (and a little pressure from her abuela), she’s also a sexual woman. That virginity doesn’t necessarily make her naive as she is an independent, aware, ambitious woman that will work as hard as can be to achieve her goals.
6. Marina Vidal.
Marina Vidal is a transgender woman and main character of the Acadamy Award winning movie, A Fantastic Woman. That in itself makes her badass as she’s helping the transgendered community earn visibility in mainstream media. As the story plays out, Marina teaches us the hardships transgender people go through in the pursuit of a normal life and the violence they face in today’s political climate.
7. Frida Kahlo.
Frida, as we all know, was a woman that refused to stay “in the box“. During her time she showed the world that being a woman didn’t mean she could only become a wife and a mother but whatever she dreamed of. She proved that women can be stronger than men. She was fierce, she was talented, she was political… she was a glimpse of the modern day woman. And ultimately she was a legend!
8. Gloria Mendoza.
Lichfield’s Top Chef, Gloria Mendoza, is the easily irritated motherly figure that’s always helping her mates in the Spanish Harlem. After being imprisoned and living with an abusive husband she decided to become the strong woman she always expected to be when she was free. Now after a few years in prison, she wants to remain neutral in hopes that she gets out and back with her kids.
9. Elena Alvarez.
Elena, just like her mom and her abuela has a lot to offer. She represents the newer generation, she’s always fighting for a cause and tries to be respectful of everyone’s pronouns. She showed us the fears of coming out in a Latino family and the pain of being rejected by a parent. Even though at times she’s just an insecure teenager, most of the time she seems to be pretty comfortable in her our skin… which is never easy!
10. Santana Lopez.
Santana, the meanest cheerleader at McKinley High was not always the victimizer. It was during season 3 when she gets publicly outed by another student. The season tries to show the struggle of a teen girl who lost control of her own coming out process, in a time where LGBTQ representation was smaller than it is today and the male counterparts were getting more on-screen time. This mainstream teen drama was coming through for all those girls following the show.
11. Betty Suarez.
Betty Suarez is probably one of the most lovable heroines on the screen. She’s kind-hearted, career-driven, awkwardly confident and most importantly unapologetically herself. Throughout 4 seasons she diversified the image of Latinxs on TV and thought us a thing or two about looks. She was also the first character on primetime television to have to deal with immigration issues as his father Ignacio was undocumented. For these and many other reasons she rocks!
12. Lydia Alvarez.
The last one of the familia Alvarez but definitely not the least is Lydia. Her sacrifice was the reason why her whole family got a chance of a better life. Lydia is the definition of the sultry Latina. She’s vibrant, beautiful, funny, poise… everything we aspire to be when we’re older. As she steals every single scene with dramatic gesturing and great punchlines she’s letting us know that age is just as important as we let it be.
13. Dolores Huerta.
Dolores is forever part of American history. Not only did she changed the life of agricultural laborers alongside Chavez, but she also fought against racism and sexism during the 1960s. 30 years later, she managed to successfully increase the number of female elected representatives in office at all levels. Dolores’ legacy only shows how much she has impacted the lives of Latino Americans, women and union workers. At almost 88 she still fights for civil rights and has no plans to retire.
14. Ana García.
Back in 2002 when the Latino community was well underrepresented in American television we met Ana, an ambitious teenager from a working-class Mexican-American family, whose mother has very strong opinions about her looks and aspirations. After a constant struggle with her unsupportive family, she finally frees herself from their traditional values and the societal standards that are weighing her down in order to achieve her goals.
15. Helen Chavez.
Just like Dolores, Helen fought alongside her husband (César Chavez) for the rights of agricultural laborers. Her role in the fight was usually backstage taking care of her family and also doing office work like bookkeeping for the organization. Aside from being a mother, a wife, and administrative assistant, she also worked in the fields picking grapes for $2.00 a day. Helen proved that every role is important, even if that meant playing a more traditional one on the movement.
Gail is much more than just kickass outfits. She is a loyal leader that will do whatever it takes to protect the group. She’s tough and merciful when needed be. Gails is unapologetic and she always gets what she wants… she takes no prisoners! She’s also the kind of woman that will make you regret it if you attack her. She’s basically the kickass heroine we all needed when growing up.
17. Carmen De La Pica Morales.
In 2006 was very little representation of lesbians on television. One of the best characters available back then was Carmen, the part-time DJ and PA who came into the scene after meeting Shane, who’d eventually become her fiancé. During the following 2 seasons, we would see her cope with her conflictive love life and struggle with coming out the closet in a traditional Latino family.
18. Minerva Mirabal.
Minerva Mirabal and her sisters were the symbols of resistance against an oppressive political regime. They were violently killed by the military after a long fight to oust Dominican dictator, Rafael Trujillo. Not only was Minerva a revolutionary but also one of the 1st women to become a lawyer during the 1940s. The sister’s bravery helped free the Dominican Republic from Trujillo’s dictatorship and in commemoration for their tragic death, the UN designated that day as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
19. Jessica Pearson.
Jessica Pearson is the boss! She’s the managing partner at her own firm Pearson Specter Litt. Jessica is the female powerhouse we were all waiting for. She’s unapologetic, cutthroat, and fully invested in her job. She’s a career-driven woman with not even a glimpse of desire to form a family and has little to no regret about her decisions. Jessica is the much-needed alpha woman that we need to see more on screen.
20. Diana Guzman.
Diana is a rebellious teenager that dreams to become a fighter. As she begins her path, everyone around her is telling her that the ring is not a place for a girl. Against all odds and with the help of a few people she trains hard and eventually learns to value herself by becoming a boxer. The best part is the character is not typecasted, she’s allowed to be a physically strong and tough woman but at the same time a vulnerable teen girl just in love with a guy.