Entertainment

The 20 Most Influential Latino Characters Past And Present Who Changed Our Lives

It’s no secret that the characters we see on TV and the big screen hugely influence each of our psyches, and seep into society’s stereotypes. Growing up, we had very few Latino characters to look to on screen, but the ones that were there made a huge impact on us. We got to see a glorified example of how Latinos navigate this world, and as more Latinos take control in developing these characters, they’re more and more often representing who we really are: hella diverse in profession, skin color, dreams, and personalities.

Pues nos vamos, and we hope you agree that these are the gente that give Latinos permission to be whoever they want to be.

Gabrielle Solis in “Desperate Housewives”

@serienjunkies / Twitter

While Eva Longoria worked for ten long years in entertainment before her breakout role as Gabrielle Solis in “Desperate Housewives,” Solis has given her a major platform. She’s founded the Latino Victory Project and is super active in immigration reform legislation.

Plus, whatever you think of the show, we’re glad there was at least one Latinx family livin’ it up in the upper middle class.

Eva Rodriguez in “Center Stage”

@JarettSays / Twitter

Eva Rodriguez, played by Afro-Dominican Zoe Saldana, in “Center Stage” (2000) was my actual idol growing up. My primas y yo were all in ballet together for a decade, and watching Eva give everyone that Latina attitude was everything. The best part was when she shocked everyone (specifically the racists) by stepping in last minute for the lead role.

Veronica Lodge in “Riverdale”

@jakesherondale / Twitter

Okay, yes. The Lodge Family is kind of enemy No. 1 on the show, and Veronica’s villainous super rich dad is confusingly hateful and sexy, but Veronica is an evolution. At first, we see her vie for her parent’s approval (so relatable), but ultimately relies on her integrity, which puts her at odds with her family. Regardless, it’s so much more exciting to watch a wealthy, sassy, elegant Latina play Veronica Lodge than another rich white girl.

Ruby Martinez in “On My Block”

@onmyblocktv / Twitter

There are too many loveable Latino characters in Netflix’s “On My Block,” but Ruby is a favorite. He’s not just another funny Latino kid in the background. His character is complex, and we get to know his family, including his abuelita who cannot be denied in anything… including testing out makeup looks and quince dresses.

Ana García in “Real Women Have Curves”

HBO

There’s not a single Latina who has not been given life by America Ferrera’s character in “Real Women Have Curves.” This movie came out in 2002, when heroine chic was all the rage and the closest thing to bopo was your abuelita lovingly calling you ‘gordita.’

It was a confusing time for anyone who didn’t wear a size 2, and Ana gave us a newfound feeling of empowerment. We deserve to take up space, and love our bodies because they give us life.

Allegra Acosta in “Marvel’s Runaways”

@marvelsrunaways / Instagram

Finally. Netflix’s “Marvel’s Runaways” has given us a female Latina superhero we can all look up to. She’s the youngest, most optimistic and actual strongest in the clan of superheroes.

Penelope Alvarez in “One Day at a Time”

Netflix

Thank Netflix for one of the best possible representations of Latinos that exist today. Cuban-American Penelope Alvarez, played by the incredible Justina Machado, is a retired vet, a single mother of two, and the Cuban mother we all swear we’ll be when we grow up.

We get to see her navigate living with her expat, Cuban proud mother (Rita Moreno), a quince-resistant daughter and totally transparent hairy Latina. Glad we can all finally stop pretending we don’t have ‘staches.

Elena Alvarez in “One Day at a Time”

Netflix

Watching Elena, played by Isabella Gomez, resist traditional customs, while feeling such a sense of community in her Cuban heritage; her coming out as lesbian and being warmly accepted by her super Catholic abuela and her mother; watching her blossom into a character that was so deeply relatable to me that I laughed and cried hysterically is a gift. Thank you to the ODAAT writers for Elena Alvarez.

Oscar Martinez in “The Office”

@MeganVictoria08 / Twitter

Did Oscar, played by Oscar Nunez, set his pendejo boss straight with his painfully ignorant and racist comments? Rarely. Somehow, watching accountant Oscar exist with an acute awareness that his identity is reduced to ‘gay Mexican’ in the eyes of some of his coworkers, and find solace in knowing he is by far the smartest, most rational intellect in the room, was a signal to all of us. Just know that we’re better than them and you’ll keep your head held high.

Tony Padilla in “13 Reasons Why”

@ohsimplething / Twitter

Today, Tony is one of the few male LGBTQ Latino characters on television and he’s much more complex than you might initially expect. He might look like a tough guy, and he certainly can look out for himself, but don’t expect to see him be victim or perpetrator of any kind of machismo.

Ricky Ricardo in “I Love Lucy”

@JZebrowskiChief / Twitter

At first, real life couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, faced resistance to allow his obvious Cuban-born accent and Latinidad onto television. The actor and couple persisted and Latino-Americans finally had a Latino to look to on television.

The Villanueva Family in “Jane the Virgin”

@cwjanethevirgin / Instagram

The CW has given Latinos what we’ve all been waiting for: a Spanglish telenovela series. We get all the come-back-to-life and evil twin plots we demand in any worthwhile series, but with life stories that matter to us, like immigration and classism.

Four generations of Boricuas under one roof also give at least four Latinxs jobs in television and we’re here for all of that.

Mariana and Jesus Foster in “The Fosters and Good Trouble”

@lonelywhorerose / Twitter

It is pure joy to watch Mariana Foster understand what it means to be Latina, even when you’re adopted into a non-Latino family. We watch her struggle to fit in, dye her hair blond, and reclaim her Latinidad all in one season. She’s a fierce go-getter, and the Jennifer Lopez produced show offers relatable content for anyone with an alcoholic/addict loved one in their lives.

Manny Rodriguez in “Modern Family”

@abcmodernfam / Instagram

“Modern Family” certainly perpetuates harmful stereotypes about the ‘spicy Latina’ but they got something right with Manny, who is very reminiscent of Junot Diaz’s Oscar Wao character. Manny is the antithesis of machismo, a champion for women’s rights, and a major woman-lover, not womanizer. We love seeing a sensitive, smart, Latino kid break stereotypes.

Blanca in “Pose”

@PoseOnFX / Twitter

Ryan Murphy’s new series, “Pose,” is giving jobs, platforms, and voice for transgender people on the screen. The fifth episode is all about what it was like for Blanca to come out as trans in the ’80s to her Latino family. Try not to sob at MJ Rodriguez’ performance.

Amy Santiago and Rosa Diaz in “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”

@nbcbrooklyn99 / Instagram

Hey look, there’s more than one Latino character on the same show! That means we have more proof that we’re just people, with different personalities, and variations of the same culture. Plus, when Stephanie Beatriz came out as bisexual, the writers had her character, Rosa, come out as well, with Beatriz’ own input changing many of the lines.

Ricky Vasquez in “My So-Called Life”

@audiohelkuik / Twitter

There was something so special about Rickie Vasquez’ character amidst the sea of ’90s era negative stereotypes of Latino criminals, drug lords, and delinquents. Plus, Rickie might have been one of the first positive gay Latinos on television, showing a character who could use the girls’ bathroom as a safe haven, rock jewelry, and makeup and be loved for it.

Melissa Villaseñor in “Saturday Night Live”

@melissavcomedy / Instagram

You might say that Villaseñor isn’t a character on SNL, but then I’d just know you haven’t watched SNL. Villaseñor has made history by becoming the first Latina member of the SNL cast, and has played probably hundreds of characters at this point. Proof that we’re funny right there.

Analisa ‘Ana’ Torres in “Grown-ish”

@grownish / Twitter

You might think that this Cal U. Latina, conservative Republican freshman isn’t a stereotype, but that’s because nadie ni nadie is doing research into how so many Latinos voted for Trump. The truth is that Ana Torres might be the first nod at this huge reality that made MAGA possible. She’s the daughter of Cuban immigrants, a devout Catholic and has some really absurdo things to say. While I’m not here for her politics, I’m here for the truth, and the truth is, Ana Torres exists tenfold.

Callie Torres in “Grey’s Anatomy”

@GreysQTS / Twitter

Unrelated to Ana Torres, Callie Torres was one of the first Latina’s on television with higher education. She was initially created to be disliked by George O’Malley’s friends, but viewers liked her so much that her character changed. Watching her come out to her Catholic father, who initially disowned her, was a heartbreak so many of us have feared.

Callie Torres is also the longest running LGBT character in television history, spanning over 11 seasons and 240+ episodes.


READ: These TV And Movie Characters Brought Bisexual Latinos To Life Because Representation Matters

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Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Entertainment

Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Luis Fonsi is kicking off 2021 with a new single. The Puerto Rican superstar premiered the music video for “Vacío” on Feb. 18 featuring rising Boricua singer Rauw Alejandro. The guys put a new spin on the classic “A Puro Dolor” by Son By Four.

Luis Fonsi throws it back to his románticas.

“I called Omar Alfanno, the writer of ‘A Puro Dolo,’ who is a dear friend,” Fonsi tells Latido Music. “I told him what my idea was [with ‘Vacío’] and he loved it. He gave me his blessing, so I wrote a new song around a few of those lines from ‘A Puro Dolor’ to bring back that nostalgia of those old romantic tunes that have been a part of my career as well. It’s a fresh production. It sounds like today, but it has that DNA of a true, old-school ballad.”

The world got to know Fonsi through his global smash hit “Despacito” with Daddy Yankee in 2017. The remix with Canadian pop star Justin Bieber took the song to new heights. That was a big moment in Fonsi’s music career that spans over 20 years.

There’s more to Fonsi than “Despacito.”

Fonsi released his first album, the fittingly-titled Comenzaré, in 1998. While he was on the come-up, he got the opportunity of a lifetime to feature on Christina Aguilera’s debut Latin album Mi Reflejo in 2000. The two collaborated on “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” Fonsi scored multiple Billboard Hot Latin Songs No. 1s in the years that followed and one of the biggest hits was “No Me Doy Por Vencido” in 2008. That was his career-defining romantic ballad.

“Despacito” remains the second most-viewed music video on YouTube with over 7.2 billion views. The hits did not stop there. Later in 2017, he teamed up with Demi Lovato for “Échame La Culpa,” which sits impressively with over 2 billion views.

He’s also appearing on The Voice next month.

Not only is Fonsi working on his new album, but also he’s giving advice to music hopefuls for the new season of The Voice that’s premiering on March 1. Kelly Clarkson tapped him as her Battle Advisor. In an exclusive interview, Fonsi talked with us about “Vacío,” The Voice, and a few of his greatest hits.

What was the experience like to work with Rauw Alejandro for “Vacío”?

Rauw is cool. He’s got that fresh sound. Great artist. Very talented. Amazing onstage. He’s got that great tone and delivery. I thought he had the perfect voice to fit with my voice in this song. We had talked about working together for awhile and I thought that this was the perfect song. He really is such a star. What he’s done in the last couple of years has been amazing. I love what he brought to the table on this song.

Now I want to go through some of your greatest hits. Do you remember working with Christina Aguilera for her Spanish album?

How could you not remember working with her? She’s amazing. That was awhile back. That was like 1999 or something like that. We were both starting out and she was putting out her first Spanish album. I got to sing a beautiful ballad called “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” I got to work with her in the studio and see her sing in front of the mic, which was awesome. She’s great. One of the best voices out there still to this day.

What’s one of your favorite memories of “No Me Doy Por Vencido”?

“No Me Doy Por Vencido” is one of the biggest songs in my career. I think it’s tough to narrow it down just to one memory. I think in general the message of the song is what sticks with me. The song started out as a love song, but it turned into an anthem of hope. We’ve used the song for different important events and campaigns. To me, that song has such a powerful message. It’s bigger than just a love song. It’s bringing hope to people. It’s about not giving up. To be able to kind of give [people] hope through a song is a lot more powerful than I would’ve ever imagined. It’s a very special song.

I feel the message is very relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic we’re living through.

Oh yeah! I wrote that song a long time ago with Claudia Brant, and during the first or second month of the lockdown when we were all stuck at home, we did a virtual writing session and we rewrote “No Me Doy Por Vencido.” Changing the lyrics, kind of adjusting them to this situation that we’re living now. I haven’t recorded it. I’ll do something with it eventually. It’s really cool. It still talks about love. It talks about reuniting. Like the light at the end of the tunnel. It has the hope and love backbone, but it has to do a lot with what we’re going through now.

What do you think of the impact “Despacito” made on the industry?

It’s a blessing to be a part of something so big. Again, it’s just another song. We write these songs and the moment you write them, you don’t really know what’s going to happen with them. Or sometimes you run into these surprises like “Despacito” where it becomes a global phenomenon. It goes No. 1 in places where Spanish songs had never been played. I’m proud. I’m blessed. I’m grateful to have worked with amazing people like Daddy Yankee. Like Justin Bieber for the remix and everyone else involved in the song. My co-writer Erika Ender. The producers Mauricio Rengifo and Andrés Torres. It was really a team effort and it’s a song that obviously changed my career forever.

What was the experience like to work with Demi Lovato on “Echáme La Culpa”?

She’s awesome! One of the coolest recording sessions I’ve ever been a part of. She really wanted to sing in Spanish and she was so excited. We did the song in Spanish and English, but it was like she was more excited about the Spanish version. And she nailed it! She nailed it from the beginning. There was really not much for me to say to her. I probably corrected her once or twice in the pronunciation, but she came prepared and she brought it. She’s an amazing, amazing, amazing vocalist.

You’re going to be a battle advisor on The Voice. What was the experience like to work with Kelly Clarkson?

She’s awesome. What you see is what you get. She’s honest. She’s funny. She’s talented. She’s humble and she’s been very supportive of my career. She invited me to her show and it speaks a lot that she wanted me to be a part of her team as a Battle Advisor for the new season. She supports Latin music and I’m grateful for that. She’s everything you hope she would be. She’s the real deal, a true star, and just one of the coolest people on this planet.

What can we expect from you in 2021?

A lot of new music. Obviously, everything starts today with “Vacío.” This is literally the beginning of what this new album will be. I’ve done nothing but write and record during the last 10 months, so I have a bunch of songs. Great collaborations coming up. I really think the album will be out probably [in the] third or fourth quarter this year. The songs are there and I’m really eager for everybody to hear them.

Read: We Finally Have A Spanish-Language Song As The Most Streamed Song Of All Time

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Lifestyles Of The Rich And Dangerous: Cartels Are Using TikTok To Lure Young People

Things That Matter

Lifestyles Of The Rich And Dangerous: Cartels Are Using TikTok To Lure Young People

If you’ve ever wondered what someone with a bulletproof vest and an AR-15 would look like flossing — the dance, not the method of dental hygiene — apparently the answer to that question can be found on TikTok.

Unfortunately, it’s not as a part of some absurdist sketch comedy or surreal video art installation. Instead, it’s part of a growing trend of drug cartels in Mexico using TikTok as a marketing tool. Nevermind the fact that Mexico broke grim records last year for the number of homicides and cartel violence, the cartels have found an audience on TikTok and that’s a serious cause for concern.

Mexican cartels are using TikTok to gain power and new recruits.

Just a couple of months ago, a TikTok video showing a legit high-speed chase between police and drug traffickers went viral. Although it looked like a scene from Netflix’s Narcos series, this was a very real chase in the drug cartel wars and it was viewed by more than a million people.

Typing #CartelTikTok in the social media search bar brings up thousands of videos, most of them from people promoting a “cartel culture” – videos with narcocorridos, and presumed members bragging about money, fancy cars and a luxury lifestyle.

Viewers no longer see bodies hanging from bridges, disembodied heads on display, or highly produced videos with messages to their enemies. At least not on TikTok. The platform is being used mainly to promote a lifestyle and to generate a picture of luxury and glamour, to show the ‘benefits’ of joining the criminal activities.

According to security officials, the promotion of these videos is to entice young men who might be interested in joining the cartel with images of endless cash, parties, military-grade weapons and exotic pets like tiger cubs.

Cartels have long used social media to shock and intimidate their enemies.

And using social media to promote themselves has long been an effective strategy. But with Mexico yet again shattering murder records, experts on organized crime say Cartel TikTok is just the latest propaganda campaign designed to mask the blood bath and use the promise of infinite wealth to attract expendable young recruits.

“It’s narco-marketing,” said Alejandra León Olvera, an anthropologist at Spain’s University of Murcia, in a statement to the New York Times. The cartels “use these kinds of platforms for publicity, but of course it’s hedonistic publicity.”

Mexico used to be ground zero for this kind of activity, where researchers created a new discipline out of studying these narco posts. Now, gangs in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, and the United States are also involved.

A search of the #CartelTikTok community and its related accounts shows people are responding. Public comments from users such as “Y’all hiring?” “Yall let gringos join?” “I need an application,” or “can I be a mule? My kids need Christmas presents,” are on some of the videos.

One of the accounts related to this cartel community publicly answered: “Of course, hay trabajo para todos,” “I’ll send the application ASAP.” “How much is the pound in your city?” “Follow me on Instagram to talk.” The post, showing two men with $100 bills and alcohol, had more than a hundred comments.

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