Using his skills he used in Hollywood as a special effects artist, Tsuji created the life-like version of Frida studying video and different pictures of her. He says, it’s more of a composition of the many sides of Frida. And like Frida’s sculpture, he’s created others of Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali and Abraham Lincoln.
“The more I read about her the more I respected who she was . . . to me she is really like a religious icon. I tried to coddle her and comfort her up there too for the pain she went through . . . so respect and also comforting her was the meaning of the design.”
Although Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion in most Latin American countries, we all know by now that Latino culture is not a monolith. In fact, Latinidad comes in all shapes and forms, and it’s a total misconception that all Latinos are Catholics. Latinos follow a variety of religions, from Islam to Buddhism to Judaism. And while most people don’t think of Judaism when they think of Latin America, there is, in fact, a small but proud population of Jewish peoples living throughout Latinidad.
Although the Jewish population in Latin America is relatively small (only an estimated 300,000), Jewish Latinos keep their culture alive through tradition and a strong sense of community. The largest Jewish community resides in Argentina, which is considered to be the “center of the Jewish population in Latin America”. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of famous and influential Jewish Latinos who have made their unique mark on the world. Take a look below!
1. Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo was both proud and vocal of her Jewish ancestry at a time when Anti-Semitism was at its height in Mexico. According to Kahlo, her father, Guillermo Kahlo, was a Hungarian-Jew who immigrated to Mexico. In fact, many of Frida’s work have been displayed at Jewish art exhibits.
2. Monica Lewinsky
Monica Lewinsky’s father is El Salvadoran–born to Jewish-German immigrants who fled Germany during WWII to escape persecution from the Nazi regime.
3. Daniel Bucatinsky
Beloved “Scandal” actor Daniel Bucatinsky was born in New York City to Argentine-Jewish parents. Bucatinsky has been candid about how his “roots” are in Argentina and how he speaks Spanish fluently. You can even catch him speaking Spanish to his fans on Twitter.
4. Sammy Davis Jr.
One of the most talented and charismatic performers of the infamous “Rat Pack”, Sammy Davis Jr. was a Latino born to an Afro-Cuban mother. Citing a strong connection to the Jewish faith due to its people’s history of oppression, Davis Jr. converted to Judaism in 1961 and remained devout until his death.
5. William Levy
Cuban actor and all-around heartthrob William Levy was born in Cojimar to a single mother, Barbara Levy of Jewish descent. At the reported urging of his friends, he converted to Catholicism in 2009
6. Diego Rivera
Celebrated artist and husband to the venerable Frida Kahlo, Mexican painter Diego Rivera was descended from a Portuguese-Jewish family. Of his roots, Rivera said: “My Jewishness is the dominant element in my life. From this has come my sympathy with the downtrodden masses which motivates all my work”.
7. David Blaine
Born to a Puerto Rican father and a mother of Russian-Jewish descent, famed magician and illusionist David Blaine is of both Jewish and Latino heritage.
8. Geraldo Rivera
Journalist and television personality Geraldo Rivera was born to a Puerto Rican father and a mother of Russian-Jewish descent. He was raised “mostly Jewish” and had a Bar Mitzvah ceremony. Rivera affectionately describes himself as “Jew-Rican”.
9. Bruno Mars
Bruno Mars was born in Hawaii to a father of mixed Puerto Rican and Ashkenazi Jewish descent, while his mother is Filipino. Mars has referred to his ethnicity as existing in a “gray zone” of neither black nor white. Of his ethnicity, Mars has said: “I hope people of color can look at me, and they know that everything they’re going through, I went through. I promise you.”
10. Sara Paxton
Sara Paxton was born to Lucia Menchaca Zuckerman and Steve Paxton in Los Angeles. Paxton’s mother was originally from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, where she was raised in a Jewish family. Paxton’s father has since converted to Judaism.
11. Cecilia Roth
Acclaimed Argentine actress and “muse” of Pedro Almodóvar, Cecilia Roth was born to parents Abrasha Rotenberg and Dina Gutkin in Buenos Aires. Like many European Jews in the 1930s, Roth’s father fled Europe to escape the rising tide of anti-Antisemitism.
12. Eduardo Saverin
Facebook co-founder, tech entrepreneur and multi-billionaire Eduardo Luiz Saverin was born in São Paulo, Brazil to a wealthy Jewish family. In 1993, the Saverin family immigrated to Miami. Interestingly enough, he was portrayed by the British actor Andrew Garfield in the acclaimed movie “The Social Network”.
13. Jamie-Lynn Sigler
Known for her role as the spoiled daughter Meadow on “The Sopranos”, Jamie-Lynn Sigler was born to a Cuban mother and a Jewish father. Sigler’s mother converted to Judaism upon marrying Sigler’s father. Sigler has revealed that being raised Jewish, she both attended Hebrew school and had a bat mitzvah.
14. Joaquin Phoenix
Joaquin Phoenix was born in Puerto Rico to a Jewish mother and a (lapsed) Catholic father. At the time, his parents were acting as missionaries for the cult “Children of God”. Phoenix’s father currently lives in Costa Rica. Of his Latino roots, Phoenix says, “I do like Spanish culture…I like to practice my Spanish when I am working with any actor who speaks Spanish or with members of the crew”.
15. Don Francisco
Cultural stalwart and host of Univision’s “Sábado Gigante”, Don Francisco was born in Chile to German-Jewish immigrants who fled their home country to escape the Nazi regime.
16. Gabe Saporta
Cobra Starship lead singer Gabe Saporta was born in Uruguay to a Jewish family. Like many of the entries on this list, Saporta’s grandparents fled Europe during the WWII era to escape anti-antisemitism. His Instagram bio currently reads “I was a terror since the hebrew school era” and he frequently interacts with fans on the account in Spanish.
17. Joanna Hausmann
Joanna Hausmann is Venezuelan-American comedian, Youtuber, and TV personality. Hausmann is the daughter of Venezuelan intellectual and Harvard professor Ricardo Hausmann and CNN en Español host, Ana Julia Jatar. Hausmann has a series of videos called “Joanna Rants” on Flama where she covers a variety of issues affecting Latindad–from differences in accents to cultural stereotyping.
18. Kayla Maisonet
Known for playing the sporty sister in Disney Channel’s “Stuck in the Middle”, Kayla Masionet is a biracial actress of Puerto Rican and Russian-Jewish descent. On dealing with criticism in the industry, Maisonet has revealed that she chooses to embrace what makes her different as opposed to “conform[ing] to what people say I should do”.
There are few people in this world that are as iconic as Frida Kahlo. She’s captured the minds and imaginations of generations of people from all over the world. We’ve seen her story told before, including on the big screen, but fans have long awaited a Netflix rendition of the artists unique story and now it seem like we may finally be getting what so many of us have wanted for so long.
The Frida Kahlo Corporation is developing a TV drama series based on the artist’s storied life.
Acording to a report by Deadline, the Frida Kahlo Corporation is working with a media company and famed Venezuelan composer and singer Carlos Baute to produce a drama series following the life of the iconic artist.
Frida Kahlo has inspired and influenced fans around the world and has had a major impact on the Latinx diaspora, the art world, feminism and culture as a whole. So, it seems that producers are pulling out all the stops to make sure they do right by the artist.
The series is being written by Latino talent, lead by Joel Novoa and Marilú Godinez. Novoa, who has worked on Arrow, Blood and Treasure and the feature film God’s Slave is attached to direct. The partnership will create a slate of content to celebrate the life of Frida Kahlo in different genres.
“The idea is to talk about what the books don’t,” said the writing duo in a joint statement. “The subtext behind each painting, the richness of Mexico’s 20th century and the revolution. Themes that are incredibly relevant at this unprecedented time.”
Carlos Dorado of the Frida Kahlo Corporation added, “Frida Kahlo corporation is always looking for talented people who know how to exalt the life of an icon like Frida Kahlo. In this case the professional team that has been formed is distinguished by its great professionalism, experience and most importantly the sensitivity to be able to approach a project as important and transcendental as Frida Kahlo. This high professional team will always have the support of Frida Kahlo Corporation.”
So when can we expect to see a series about one of the world’s greatest artists and feminist icons?
The team expects to start production of the series during the second half of 2021. A studio has already shown interest and the presentation of the project to the market is expected to occur in February.
“We are currently developing and writing the basis of the series and expect to be ready to present the project in the upcoming weeks,” the team said in a statement.
Also, why has it taken so long?!
Should the series find a studio and distributor, this would be the first drama series focusing on Kahlo in recent history. It’s been almost twenty years since her story was told on the big screen, when Salma Hayek portrayed the icon in the 2002 film Frida. That film went on to earn six Oscar nominations, winning for Best Makeup and Best Original Score. More recently, Kahlo was voiced by Natalia Cordova-Buckley in the Oscar-winning Pixar pic Coco.
In addition to this, in 2019 it was announced that there would be an animated film about the painter.
But fans of the iconic feminist and artist have long hoped to see a TV series depicting her larger than life personality and role in shaping the world we live in today and it looks like we may finally get what we’ve asked for.