Culture

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.

Credit: Grey’s Anatomy. ABC

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.

Credit: Selena. Warner Bros.

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.

Credit: Coco. Disney/Pixar

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.

Credit: One Day At A Time. Netflix

“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.

Credit: Jane the Virgin. The CW

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.

Credit: A Fantastic Woman. Sonny Pictures

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.

Credit: Frida. Miramax

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.

Credit: Orange is the New Black. Netflix

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.

Credit: One Day At A Time. Netflix

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.

Credit: Glee. Fox

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.

Credit: Ugly Betty. ABC

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.

Credit: One Day At A Time. Netflix

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.

Credit: Cesar Chavez. Pantelion Films

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.

Credit: Real Women Have Curves. HBO

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.

Credit: Cesar Chavez. Pantelion Films

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.

16. Gail.

Credit: Sin City. Miramax

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.

Credit: The L Word. Showtime

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.

Credit: In the Time of the Butterflies. MGM

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.

Credit: Suits. USA Network

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.

Credit: Girlfight. Screen Gems

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.

Netflix Is Bringing Latinidad To The Fantasy Realm And LOTR Fans Gear Up

Entertainment

Netflix Is Bringing Latinidad To The Fantasy Realm And LOTR Fans Gear Up

Streaming services like Netflix have become our go-to place for fresh media. So, whenever we hear of a new project coming from the streaming service, we’re all in. Last November, Netflix announced a huge 6 project animated deal that will bring even more cartoon goodness to our screens. One, in particular, has us especially excited because it comes from animator and director Jorge Gutierrez. You might remember him from Nickelodeon’s “El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera” and the gorgeously animated “The Book of Life.”

Now, we’re seeing the first looks of Gutierrez’s new Netflix project, “Maya and the Three.”

Twitter / @mexopolis

Described as a Mesoamerican fantasy epic, the director sat down with VARIETY to share the origins of the project and the journey to get it made. Gutierrez was approached by Netflix with an alluring challenge: share his dream project with executives; the one he didn’t believe anyone would ever allow him to make. It only took him one pitch to win the streaming giant over and “Maya” was greenlit for production.

“So I sat down on Jan. 25th of [2018] and that was the first time I ever pitched ‘Maya,’” he shared with VARIETY. “No art, no writing, just an idea. And here I am 11 months later, knee-deep in production.”

It was Gutierrez’s goal to portray a “bad-ass female Mesoamerican hero” in a fantasy world of his own creation.

Twitter / @zette16

“I started seeing a lot of things I didn’t like as far as not having any lead females, especially in Mesoamerican mythology,” he explained. “So I said I want to have a hero who is a half-god half-human warrior princess.”

In the Netflix series, a demigod warrior princess named Maya embarks on a quest to recruit three legendary fighters. With their help, she hopes to save the worlds of god and man from destruction. The intention was to show Maya as a strong female lead and, to do so, Gutierrez pulled from his real-life heroes. The director credits his sister, mother and his wife, Sandra Equihua for inspiring the mythical heroine. Equihua is also a talented animator and acts as a character designer for the female characters in her husband’s work.

With his female lead in place, Gutierrez focused on the mystical world that “Maya” would be set in.

Twitter / @mexopolis

The setting for the Netflix limited series has been growing in Gutierrez’s mind since he was a boy growing up in Mexico City. He would wander the halls of the Museum of Natural History and makeup stories about what he saw. These stories would later help to mold the setting. Even now, the director has fun teasing his Twitter followers with hints about what the new series could look like. However, it’s the architecture from his boyhood explorations, Gutierrez’s fondness for skulls and the pantheon of Mesoamerican gods that have helped to create Maya’s world.

Due to the mystical quest and the fantasy setting of “Maya and the Three,” Gutierrez has taken to calling the series the Mexican “Lord of the Rings.” Still, it’s a fantasy first and foremost. The director wants everyone to understand that “Maya” is inspired by Mesoamerican culture but is not meant to be an accurate representation.

“I tell everybody that while it’s inspired by Mesoamerica, this will be as accurate (to that world) as ‘Rocky’ was to boxing,” Gutierrez shared with VARIETY. “It’s all fantasy and I’m having a blast playing with the history.”

The series will feature a number of talented Latinx writers, producers and voice actors to bring Maya to life.

Instagram / @thraxisjr

Silvia Olivas from “Elena of Avalor” is acting as a co-writer and co-producer for “Maya and the Three.” From Disney’s “Moana,” Jeff Ranjo is the head of story. Paul Sullivan, who worked with Gutierrez on “The Book of Life,” is the production designer.

Despite these important hires, animators were in short supply so the producer had to get creative.

“Especially in L.A., we are all fighting for basically the same people, so now we’re looking outside. Before we announced Maya, I would go online and look for artists who were already inspired by Mesoamerica and say to them ‘You already love this stuff, we love it too! Come to our team.’”

Gutierrez used Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr to find animators that could do justice to the project. This modern-day recruiting system allowed Gutierrez and his team to find fresh artists with untapped talent to animate “Maya.” The results promise to be unique and beautiful.

The series is still a long ways away; it won’t debut on Netflix until its 2021 worldwide release. While it’s a long wait, the director promises fans that it is well worth it.

“Please have patience,” he told fans through his VARIETY interview. “This is gonna take a while, but we hope it’s unlike anything anyone has ever seen. We are so giddy every day and still can’t believe this is happening.”

This Short Film Centers Around A Black Father Doing His Daughter’s Hair

Entertainment

This Short Film Centers Around A Black Father Doing His Daughter’s Hair

When it comes to grooming a daughter’s hair, Black fathers haven’t been shy about expressing the difficulties that come along with the morning ritual. And Afro-Latino fathers are no exception. In Latinx communities with large Afro-Latino populations, having “good hair” is a label we all have to contend with. Young girls have a lot of pressure put on them to look put-together so, by extension, our families look put together. 

We all have memories of our mothers making sure our baby-bangs were smoothed down and our outfits were washed and pressed to perfection. 

Being well-groomed is so important to Afro-Latinos who face societal pressure to look perfect in order to combat bias.

Kickstarter

So, when fathers occasionally have to groom their children when their mother is unavailable, the pressure, needless to say, is on. We’ve all seen the genre of viral videos where fathers struggle to part, brush, braid and secure their daughters’ hair–obviously not previously aware of all the labor that goes into daily hair upkeep. Even celebrities have gotten in on the trend with men like Alexis Ohanian, husband to Serena Williams, joining “Natural Hair” groups on Facebook to learn more about their children’s rizos

Writer/director Matthew Cherry wanted to explore the topic of Black fathers doing their daughters hair, so he decided to make an animated short about it.

Kickstarter

According to Cherry, the short, titled “Hair Love” is about a Black father (who has locs himself) who does his daughter’s hair for the first time. “You know how guys are, a lot of times we’re hard-headed and we think we can figure everything out by ourselves without asking for help,” said Cherry during an interview. “[The father in the short] thinks it’s going to be an easy task but he soon finds out her hair has a mind of its own”. 

The father isn’t the only one who learns a lesson in self-confidence in the course of the film, though. In the end, the young girl also “comes into a level of self-confidence in the process” of her father learning how to do her hair. So, in other words, the entire film is an ode to self-love, family, and the priceless experience of bonding.

To finance “Hair Love”, Cherry created a Kickstarter campaign with the initial goal of raising $75,000. The campaign quickly caught the internet’s attention and became a viral phenomenon thanks to celebrity champions like Issa Rae and Jordan Peele. The $75,000 goal was quickly surpassed. All in all, the campaign raked in a total of $280,000–smashing Kickstarter’s short-film financing records. 

Cherry recruited Black animators like “Proud Family”‘s Bruce W. Smith and “WALL-E”‘s Everett Downing Jr. to help him make his dreams a reality.

As for Cherry, he’s candid about the reason he decided to explore the topic of Black hair and Black fathers: because mainstream media’s representation has left much to be desired. According to Cherry, not only did he want to shine a light on the labor of love that doing Black hair requires, but he wanted to highlight the relationships between Black fathers and their daughters. 

“For me, I just think it was really important to shine a light on Black fathers doing domestic things with their kids because mainstream media would lead you to believe that Black fathers aren’t a part of their kids’ lives”, Cherry said. “And there have been a lot of recent surveys that actually show otherwise–that show that Black fathers are just as involved in their kids’ lives as any other racial group”.

Now, “Hair Love” will be played ahead of “The Angry Birds Movie 2” in theaters nationwide

Kickstarter

The nationwide release will provide a massive platform for an under-told story. Not to mention, it will provide Black children with their own images reflected back to them–something many of them haven’t seen before. Not to mention, the security of a theatrical release has made “Hair Love” officially eligible for an Academy Award nomination. 

As for Cherry, he’s over-the-moon about the opportunity for his project to be seen by millions of people. “To see this project go from a Kickstarter campaign to the big screen is truly a dream come true,” he said in a press statement. “I couldn’t be more excited for “Hair Love” to be playing with “The Angry Birds Movie 2” in front of a wide audience and for the world to see our touching story about a Black father trying to figure out how to do his daughter’s hair for the very first time.”

We’ll admit: we didn’t have plans to see “Angry Birds 2” in theaters before we knew about this. But now, you might just see us on opening night, standing in line for the movie right next to our fathers! Catch “Hair Love” before  “The Angry Birds Movie 2” in theaters on August 14th.

Paid Promoted Stories