identities

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

CREDIT: 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

CREDIT: 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

CREDIT: 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

CREDIT: 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

CREDIT: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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

CREDIT: 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

CREDIT: 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

CREDIT: 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: 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: 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: 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”

CREDIT: 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”

CREDIT: 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”

CREDIT: “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”

CREDIT: 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

CREDIT: ChiledeCulto / Youtube.com

Iconic.

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

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25 Reasons Why Riverdale's Camila Mendes Should Be Your #WCW

entertainment

25 Reasons Why Riverdale’s Camila Mendes Should Be Your #WCW

@camimendes / Instagram

If you’re not watching The CW’s “Riverdale,” stop what you’re doing because Camila Mendes slays her role as Veronica, Riverdale High School’s newest “silver-tongued sophomore”, fresh in from New York.

Real life actress, Camila Mendes, is actually new on the Hollywood scene, and I needed to know more about my new fave TV character. Here’s 25 Facts about loveable, foodie Camila Mendes that will make you swoon:

1. “Riverdale” is Camila Mendes’ first acting role.

CREDIT: @camimendes / Instagram

She graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in May 2016, and Cole Sprouse (a.k.a. Jughead) was in her class! P.S. Tisch also produced Gina Rodriguez of “Jane the Virgin.”

2. Though her first gig was in an IKEA commercial.

CREDIT: Camila Mendes Brasi / YouTube

In college, she was immediately recognized for her mad acting skills and was sought after by different casting directors. Muchísimas gracias, Mendes, for becoming Veronica Lodge. ily.

3. She lets us in on some of her college-aged acting vids.

CREDIT: @camimendes / Instagram

She’s so committed to her craft and told People Magazine that she’s relieved to have made her big break. “Now I can actually focus on building a career doing what I love, which was all I’ve ever wanted.”

Caption: “what I did with my free time in 2015”

4. She’s Brazilian-American and speaks fluent Portuguese and Spanish.

CREDIT: @CamilaMendes / Twitter

She tells People Magazine, “I’m a full-blooded Brazilian, with an entire extended family of Brazilians, but I was born and raised in the U.S. When I go to Brazil, I feel like an American, and in the U.S., I always notice the traits that make me Brazilian.”

5. And she’s got a booty to prove it.

CREDIT: @camimendes / Instagram

Mendes literally just posted a tragedy every single one of us has experienced. The ripped jeans. Caption: “abandon hope all ye brazilian booties who enter these jeans ? #rip” #BootiesFTW

6. Mendes was born in Charlottesville, Virginia.

CREDIT: @camimendes / Instagram

When she was 10, she lived in Brazil for a year, but spent most of her childhood in Miami. She still misses Virginia though!

Caption: “Virginia on my mind ? me and the big sis”

7. But she moved around a lot, including living in Parkland, Florida.

CREDIT: @CamilaMendes / Twitter

Like A LOT. Like 14 times a lot, which has made a big impact on her.

8. She has one tattoo: “To Build a Home”

CREDIT: @camimendes / Instagram

After all the moves, she learned a huge life lesson. She told Latina Magazine, “All you can control is who you are and as long as you stay true to that, then you’re home. I created this idea in my head that no matter where I go I’m home because I am — my body is my home. I got a tattoo below my right breast that says, “To build a home,” because that’s my goal in life — to build a home within myself.”

9. Oh, and she spoke tf up when Cosmopolitan Philippines photoshopped her cover spread.

CREDIT: @lilireinhart / Instagram

Both Lili Reinhart and Mendes posted in a social media fury about this. Mendes told Revelist, “that they would then manipulate our bodies when we are literally preaching body positivity is so personally insulting, and it’s also insulting to the readers. You’re spreading a false message about what people look like, you know?” YAAAS!

10. Mendes is dedicated to breaking the stigma around eating disorders.

CREDIT: @camimendes / Instagram

She shared with her fans, “I can say from experience that eating disorders are serious mental illnesses. Growing up, I watched my big sister suffer from one for many years, and I’ve experienced periods of my life when I’ve suffered symptoms as well.”

11. Mendes wants you to follow @thechainnyc for more #bopo.

CREDIT: @camimendes / Instagram

Caption: “Christina recently co-founded The Chain, a nonprofit organization that offers peer support for women in fashion & entertainment who struggle with eating disorders. I’ve been following @thechainnyc – and having that constant reminder to love my body (especially on instagram where my feed is full of perfect pictures and “perfect bodies,” and especially being in front of a camera every day playing Veronica, who adores her tight mini skirts) is just enough to clear my head of all the negative voices that creep in every once in a while. Our minds can get so contaminated with endless images of perfection, and even if you don’t suffer from an eating disorder, it can’t hurt to incorporate a little body positivity into your routine. Take care of yourself in every way that you can??‍♀️”

12. She loves pizza.

CREDIT: @camimendes / Instagram

This is Mendes doing a photoshoot while eating a slice of pizza. Because a girl’s gotta eat!

13. She will not party without pizza.

CREDIT: @camimendes / Instagram

Plus her on-screen boyfriend, and off screen friend, KJ Apa and “Reggie” actor, Charles Melton.

Caption: “Domino’s Resort 2017 Collection”

14. No, but pizza is really what fuels her genius and guapisima.

CREDIT: @camimendes / Instagram

Caption: “Pizza: “Because you’re worth it” ?” #Verdad

15. She loves a well tossed salad.

CREDIT: @CamilaMendes / Twitter

And her fans couldn’t let her live it down. No worries, Urban Dictionary told her whats up.

16. Her and Cole Sprouse have a strange, beautiful friendship.

CREDIT: @camimendes / Instagram

They both went to Tisch together, and Mendes tells Seventeen, “I remember meeting him on certain occasions and he doesn’t. I’m always like, ‘Fine! Whatever! Sorry I’m not a child star!'”

17. Like this one time she shut Sprouse down.

CREDIT: @CamilaMendes / Twitter

We’re all your fans, Mendes, even child stars like Sprouse. You’re royalty.

18. But Sprouse went for it anyway. LOL

CREDIT: @CamilaMendes / Twitter

“You really captured my soul” jajajaja Mendes is seriously just as fierce and aloof as Veronica Lodge IRL.

19. She loves their friendship though.

CREDIT: @CamilaMendes / Twitter

Umm… I think standom is taking over because I’m strangely here for all of this raro af #Colina mash up.

20. She is proud to break Latinx stereotypes.

CREDIT: @CamilaMendes / Twitter

She told People Magazine, “It’s just so refreshing to see a different story being told for Latin families. The Lodge family is a much-needed departure from the underprivileged, sleazy Latino drug-dealers we’re used to seeing in entertainment. It’s rare that you see Latin families being portrayed as intelligent, sophisticated, and powerful entities.”

21. She also marched in The Women’s March of 2017 with Madelaine Petsch.

CREDIT: @CamilaMendes / Twitter

We’re not sure why she was in Vancouver, but we’re sure as hell screaming for more feminist af Mendes.

22. She’s only 23 years old!

CREDIT: @camimendes / Instagram

Remember when you were 23? And not an insta-star? In an interview, Mendes said she’s definitely learned to value more alone time so she can stay true to herself in this ever-changing industry.

Caption: “being my best self”

23. She had to dye her hair darker to play Veronica.

CREDIT: @camimendes / Instagram

While her costar, Reinhart had to go a little lighter. Together, they are “B & V” and they’re #girlpower friendship carries the show.

24. We’re so glad she did, because “Riverdale” is fulfilling all our childhood dreams.

CREDIT: @camimendes / Instagram

Me and my cousin would collect hundreds of Archie Comics, which are hella dated with your 1950’s style doses of sexism, racism and classism. This new show is dark, real, and llena de drama.

25. Plus, Camila Mendes won The Teen Choice Award’s “Teen Choice Scene Stealer” Award just last year!

CREDIT: @camimendes / Instagram

Congratulations, Camila Mendes! Que ganes todo en su vida! Also, I love you.