Here’s A Quick Glimpse Into Rita Moreno’s Rise From A Little Girl In Puerto Rico To America’s Abuela

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As millennials and Gen Z’ers, the only Rita Moreno we know is the one who played all our favorite abuelitas in Netflix’s One Day at a Time and The CW’s Jane the Virgin. We couldn’t imagine our television without her. We know she’s an icon and a big deal and all, but nobody will understand what a huge source of chisme she was for our parents growing up until you read this.

Rita Moreno is a wildly successful actress, spanning over 70 years of work. She also had an affair with Elvis Presley, and so much more! The tea is spilling. Get it.

Rita Moreno es puro Boricua.

CREDIT: @Harpercreates / Twitter

She was born in Humacao, Puerto Rico as Rosa Dolores Alverío Marcano. Her mother was a seamstress who was 17 years old when she gave birth, and her father was a farmer.

When she was 5 years old, her mother took her to NYC and inexplicably left her younger brother, Francisco, on the island.

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In her autobiography, Moreno was removed from her island world of raising baby chicks and plopped into the cold Bronx.

At 6 years old, she started to take dance lessons from Rita Hayworth’s uncle.

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She started professionally dancing at New York clubs when she was 9 years old. She recounts the applause and stage lights as the moment she knew she was meant to be on stage.

When she was 13, she was already acting on Broadway.

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At 16 years old, her family moved to Hollywood to continue finding her destiny. In her autobiography, she writes about how devastating it was to realize she could only land ‘ethnic’ roles. It’s all Hollywood saw in her, and she would try to cover up her olive skin with lightening powder. She was even raped by an agent when she was in her early teens.

Then, she landed the role of Anita in West Side Story.

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This was a huge milestone for her. Up until then, she was only playing stereotypical roles of the era.

She won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in West Side Story.

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Then she won a Golden Globe. Soon, she became the first Latino to become an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony winner).

Most people don’t know that her Emmy Award came from an appearance on The Muppet Show.

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At the time, she was only the third person ever to accomplish an EGOT. She won a Tony award for Best Featured Actress in The Ritz (1975).

Then, she pulled herself out of the game.

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Moreno told The Miami Herald that her Oscar gave her the courage to say “no” to the belittling roles she was offered. She thought she wouldn’t have to degrade her heritage again.

”Ha, ha. I showed them. I didn’t make another movie for seven years after winning the Oscar.”

The stereotypes for Latino roles back then aren’t too dissimilar to today.

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She told The Miami Herald, “Before West Side Story I was always offered the stereotypical Latina roles. The Conchitas and Lolitas in westerns. I was always barefoot. It was humiliating, embarrassing stuff. But I did it because there was nothing else. After West Side Story, it was pretty much the same thing. A lot of gang stories.”

Then, she met Marlon Brando on The Night of the Following Day (1968).

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Her return to film brought her straight into the arms of the “lust of her life,” Marlon Brando. They dated on and off for eight years.

Their relationship was rocky, to say the least. He cheated on her constantly.

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But the attraction was overwhelming for Moreno. According to the NY Post, she writes in her memoir, “Just meeting him that first day sent my body temperature skyrocketing as though I had been dropped into a very hot bath, and I went into a full-body blush.”

She even dated Elvis Presley as a way to make Brando jealous.

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In her memoir, she writes, “Maybe Elvis was inhibited by inbred religious prohibitions or an Oedipal complex, or maybe he simply preferred the thrill of a denied release. Whatever put the brakes on the famous pelvis, it ground to a halt at a certain point and that was it.”

After seeing him devour a bacon and cheese sandwich and realizing he was more interested in the bocadillo than her, she never saw him again.

As if there weren’t enough men in her life, theater critic Kenneth Tynan stalked her as well.

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In her memoir, she writes about how after she dated Presley, she went on a date with Tynan who suggested ‘spanking’. She literally fled after that happened and he took it upon himself to stalk her.

Moreno went back to Brando only to be forced to have an abortion and attempting suicide.

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Brando even arranged a friend to pick her up after the illegal procedure, which was botched. The fetus never left her body and she had to go to the hospital to have it surgically removed.

Moreno found his sleeping pills and took them all. She was saved by Brando’s assistant who rushed her to the hospital where her life was saved.

Later on, she met Lenny Gordon, a Jewish doctor who was set up on a blind date by a friend.

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Moreno told him to meet on their first date right after a Broadway show. He was confused, wondering if she was going alone, or if she was on another date. When he looked at the marquee, “Rita Moreno in ‘The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window'” it finally clicked that she was the Rita Moreno.

They stayed together 45 years until Gordon died in 2010.

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Together, they had one daughter, Fernanda Luisa Fisher, who has two sons, Justin and Cameron Fisher. That said, she felt claustrophobic by his possessiveness. She only felt free after he died. “After all the years of supervision, I can do whatever I want. It was a very long time to be that unhappy,” she told The Daily Beast.

Since Gordon died, she’s making up for lost time.

CREDIT: Netflix

This is why we have her as our favorite abuelita. She’s hailed for her portrayal of your average Cuban abuela in One Day at a Time. She’s absolutely regal–always dressed to the nines, like the abuelas we all know.

Her work alongside Gina Rodriguez and Jaime Camil in Jane the Virgin is the highlight of the series.

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She’s working with people that name her as the biggest influence in their life growing up. Gina Rodriguez specifically shared her story of meeting Rita after asking her mom as a kid,

“Ma, when did Puerto Ricans come about?”

“What do you mean, Gina?”

“Well, I never see us on my favorite TV shows or movies. We must not have existed back then, right?”

And then her mom showed her Rita Moreno and Gina fell in love.

The 80-year-old icon has responded, essentially passing the inspo torch to Gina Rodriguez in this love letter.

CREDIT: @Netflix / Twitter

“In just a few years my dear, young Latinas will look up at their screens with hope in their eyes and say, “I want to be like Gina Rodriguez.” Come to think of it, I think they already do.”


Rita Moreno has earned the highest civilian honor–the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

CREDIT: Wikipedia Commons

Back in 2004, President George W. Bush honored her with the medal for her lifetime achievements to the arts. Moreno has won so much more in her life–the hearts of all of us, Boricuas y todos Latinos alike. Thank you for your service to us, your community, who will lift you up for many generations to come.

Oh, and her accent on TV projects? Fake. She speaks clear American English.

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She’s that good an actress. The woman got lessons early on in life, mi gente. She said she just tries to imitate her mom’s accent when she gets roles like Lydia’s on One Day at a Time. Her and Justina Machado looped their own Spanish-speaking voices in for the dubbed versions. Increíble. Te quiero, mi coquí favorita.

READ: From Rita Moreno To Becky G, Gloria Estefan’s Instagram Was Lit During The Kennedy Center Honors

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11 Of Your Favorite Reggaetoneros Then And Now


11 Of Your Favorite Reggaetoneros Then And Now


Perhaps more than any other pop music genre reggaeton is full of rags-to-riches stories, kids from the urban US or from Latin American countries who find their calling as artists, work hard and become famous. Because the genre calls for the creation of tough-looking personas, many reggaetoneros might seem menacing at first, but are often tame creative types who use their imagination to write lyrics and construct a character. At the end, however, they are all humans who were once kids or just normal cabrones far from the fame they now embrace.

Here’s 11 reggaetoneros and their looks way before they were on the spotlight.

1. Maluma

Credit: 1473892681_500340_1473893192_album_normal. Digital image. Los 40 Principales.

Juan Luis Londoño Arias was born in 1994 and has one sister. When he was a kid he showed interest in soccer and even played in lower divisions for the teams Atlético National and Equidad Sports Club in his native Colombia.

Credit: Instagram. @Maluma.

He is now one of the most popular artists in the world, regardless of language. Not bad for a kid who was once inspired by the likes of suave performers Justin Timberlake and Michael Jackson.

2. Pitbull

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Armando Christian Pérez was born in Miami in 1981, in a family of Cuban expatriates. He loved classic Cuban poetry when he was a kid, and was famous for reciting poems in Spanish.

Credit: Instagram. @Pitbull

He is now a global celebrity and has struck sponsorship deals with the likes of Kodak and Dr Pepper. He is active in the Cuban community in Miami. He is also testing his luck as a television producer and is working with Endemol, the Dutch company responsible for the Big Brother reality show concept.

3. Daddy Yankee

Credit: Daddy-Yankee. Digital image. Kienyke.

Ramón Luis Ayala Rodríguez was born in the beautiful island of Puerto Rico in 1977. His first love was baseball and he was bound to become a professional pelotero, but he was shot on a leg and his sporting dreams were over.

Credit: Instagram. @daddyyankee

He is considered one of the precursors of the genre. He has quite a political voice, and in 2008 endorsed John McCain because he considered the late Arizona senator supported Latino causes.

4. Yandel

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Llandel Veguilla Malave was born in Carey, Puerto Rico, in 1977. Like many singers he learnt a trade before taking on the stage. His was being a barber… and it is evident if you notice his meticulously trimmed facial hair!

Credit: Instagram. @Yandel

He has made a name for himself both as a solo artist and as part of the super successful duo Wisin & Yandel.

5. J Balvin

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José Álvaro Osorio Balvin was born in 1985 in Medellin, Colombia. He came from a middle-class family that faced bankruptcy. In order to pursue his American Dream he worked as a painter and construction worker in the States.

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In just eight years he has released five albums that have positioned him as one of the most popular performers in the genre.

6. Austin Santos/Arcángel

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Austin Agustín Santos goes by the stage name of Arcángel. He was born in New York in 1985 and then moved to Puerto Rico, where he got his musical juices flowing.

Credit: santos-austin-image. Digital image. Famous Birthdays.

He is one of the precursors of the movement. In 2008 he faced the challenge of illegal file sharing and he had to cancel the release of an album. This is one of the realities of the music industry today.

7. Bad Bunny

Credit: Instagram. @badbunnypr

Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio was born in 1994 in Puerto Rico. He knows how to create and sustain a brand, as he studied audiovisual communication at university. His education translates into an interesting and cohesive style.

Credit: Instagram. @badbunnypr

He started right from the bottom. He released indy recordings while working as a bagger in a supermarket. But perseverance paid off when DJ Luian listened to one of his songs on SoundCloud and signed him to his level. Dreams do come true.

8. Luis Fonsi

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Luis Alfonso Rodríguez López-Cepero is responsible for one of the most popular songs of all time, “Despacito”. He was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 1978. He used to sing at school parties with a group… one of the members, Joey Fatone, later joined NSYNC

Credit: Instagram. @luisfonsi

Fonsi is also an actor. He appeared in the 1992 film Como agua para chocolate, which marked the beginning of the New Mexican Cinema era. When talent rains, it pours.

9. Residente (René Pérez Joglar)

Credit: rene-perez, Digital image. La Patilla.

Who would have said that this cheeky boy would become one of the fiercest songwriters of the modern era. Residente’s mother was part of a theater company, which perhaps had an influence in her son’s elaborate stage performances. Calle 13 is famous for taking performance to the  next level and having a concise audiovisual style with music videos by directors like the Argentine Campanella and actor-director Diego Luna.

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The angriest half of Calle 13 is an active advocate for indigenous and migrant rights, which is often revealed in songs such as “El Hormiguero” and the epic “Latinoamérica”. He has give voice to the vulnerable. He doesn’t hold back from speaking his truth, and has been a vocal critic of the Trump administration and of neoliberal governments in Latin America.

10. Visitante (Eduardo José Cabra Martínez)

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Look at those two! Calle 13 wouldn’t be what it is without Residente’s brother. He was born in 1978 in Santurce, Puerto Rico. Since he was a little kid he had deep political inclinations. He was once kicked out of his classroom because he refused to honor the US anthem… he believes Puerto Rico should be independent,  a plight that many in the island’s intellectual circles have.

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He is a versatile musician who researches Latin American sounds with the tenacity of an anthropologist. Some of his strongest influences are Panamanian salsa master Ruben Blades and Cuban troubadour Silvio Rodriguez. In a way, Visitante goes beyong reggaeton and enters folk music territory.

11. Tomasa del Real

Credit: Instagram. @Tomasadelreal

Her name is Valeria Cisternas and she hails from Chile, where she was born in 1986. Her stage name is inspired by Afro-Latin Americans. She has said that she feels both masculine and feminine, which transpires in her style. The above picture is from one of her first YouTube videos, which made her a social media celebrity in her own right.

Credit: Instagram. @Tomasadelreal

She is widely considered one of the queens of Neoperreo, a subgenre in which women have a more empowering position. This is a lot for a genre that is infamous for taking violence against women lighter than it should.

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