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After Years Of Hard Work, This Cubana Is Killing It In Hollywood

If you don’t know who Selenis Leyva is, allow us to introduce you.

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Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty

She’s a Cuban-born, American actress best known for her role as the fierce Gloria Mendoza on Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black.”

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CREDIT: Orange Is The New Black / Netflix

She’s also an insanely inspirational and strong Latina who is paving the way for fellow actresses of color.

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Credit: Jamie McCarthy / Getty

Before Leyva booked her role on “OITNB,” she was a struggling actress facing the same hardships that plague Latinas in Hollywood.

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Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty

It may seem like Leyva came out of nowhere, but some of you may remember her stints as Tita Rosa in the Nickelodeon series “Taina”…

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Credit: Nickelodeon

And as Detective Mariluz Rivera in “Law & Order.”

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Credit: NBC

Recently, Leyva spoke to students at Florida International University about the trials of being an Afro-Latina actress in the United States.

Credit: @selenisleyvaofficial / Instagram

It wasn’t because she isn’t an absolute boss at acting. It was because of the lack of solid roles for Latinas – especially Afro-Latinas.

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Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty

For Leyva, even the telenovelas which she grew up watching didn’t feel like somewhere she belonged. “Those women (in TV shows) were fair skinned, and they all had long, flowing hair,” she said in her speech at FIU. “Their features were different. They didn’t look like me. And maybe there was one person who maybe could’ve played my long-lost cousin, but she always happened to be the maid.”

Leyva also points out there’s nothing wrong with playing a maid or a junkie — but that’s not all you should see.

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CREDIT: Orange Is The New Black / Neflix

And that’s part of the reason she’s so grateful to play Gloria on “OITNB.” Even though Gloria is in prison, she’s a layered character with depth and history. This kind of character development is something every actress hopes for in a role and sets characters apart from the stereotypical Latina roles that are still being written today.

Leyva is extremely outspoken about diversity in the film and television industry.

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CREDIT: Orange Is The New Black / Netflix

Leyva told FIU students there are still many stories to be told: “It starts when they’re having conversations about a story, and who they think they want to cast as this person, or this lead. Let’s just open it up. We’re living in a world where there’s difference, and there’s a lot of different stories to be told. And it’s okay to tell all stories.”

Leyva is also an outspoken advocate for the LGBT community; she is the sister of a trans woman.

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CREDIT: Michael Kovac / Getty

In June, Leyva penned a blog for The Huffington Post entitled, “What Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair Cover Sparked For Me As A Sister Of A Trans Woman.”

After the initial joy at Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover, Leyva realized some harrowing truths.

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Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty

“I feel sadness today because the majority of the trans community struggle to simply get decent health care, never mind public acceptance. So yes, yesterday I, like millions, celebrated the Vanity Fair cover. Today, I hope we don’t lose sight that this is not the norm for your average transgender person. Let’s continue to move forward. Let’s continue to educate. Let’s continue to have conversations.”

Leyva has leveraged her fame to share a message and speak up for those who need it. That’s just badass.

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Credit: Frederick M. Brown / Getty

READ: These ‘Flaritza’ Moments Prove Flaca & Maritza Deserve Their Own Show

What’s your favorite Gloria Mendoza moment from OITNB? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to share on Facebook and Twitter!

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Maluma And J Balvin React To The Loss Of Armando Manzanero, Who Lost His Battle Against COVID-19

Entertainment

Maluma And J Balvin React To The Loss Of Armando Manzanero, Who Lost His Battle Against COVID-19

Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images

As if 2020 and Coronavirus haven’t taken enough from us, just days before we usher in a new year, the world is forced to say goodbye to Armando Manzanero.

The famed Mexican-Mayan artist lost his battle against COVID-19 and as news of his death began to circulate, reactions from stars all around the world have started to pour in.

Manzanero died like so many in 2020 – fighting the dangerous Coronavirus.

One of Mexico’s most iconic and beloved artists has passed at the age of 85 from complications related to COVID-19. Armando Manzanero had tested positive for the virus on December 17 and put into critical care just a few days later.

The Society of Authors and Composers of Mexico (SACM), of which Manzanero was president, announced his death, saying: “The romantic soul of Mexico and the world is in mourning.”

His family told Mexican newspaper El Universal that he was set to be extubated in the coming days, after his lung health had improved, but he then died by cardiac arrest.

Maluma took to social media to share his sadness over the immense loss.

Losing a man who is considered a symbol of Latin American music has left many artists shocked and in mourning. Reactions and memories from around the world quickly poured in to remember the man who helped put his country and culture on the global map.

Maluma shared to Instagram an emotional post, where he expressed his sadness for the departure of maestro Manzanero, “💔😭 RIP MASTER,” the post reads.

In the description, Maluma said “one of my greatest inspirations” had died but that he’d forever treasure the memory of having met Manzanero. The video shows when Maluma, visibly moved, meets Armando Manzanero for the first time. “A pleasure to meet you,” says the reggaetonero; Immediately afterwards, the Mexican singer hugs him while patting him on the back.

J Balvin also shared his condolences while also condemning COVID-19.

Another of the many celebs who showed their sadness over the death of the star was J Balvin. In his Instagram stories, Balvin posted a photo of Manzanero and wrote “Rest in peace, Armando Manzanero.” In addition, he wrote what so many of us are feeling after such a devastating year: “FUCK COVID.”

And Mexico’s president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, addressed Manzanero’s death during a press conference, per CNN. “Armando Manzanero was a sensitive man, a man of the people. That’s why I lament his death,” he said. “He was also a great composer.”

Manzanero was a famed Mexican-Mayan artist who helped bring visibility to his culture and community.

Credit: Medios Y Media / Getty Images

Manzanero was a romantic crooner who was often covered by artists from around the world. In fact, many of his tracks were translated into English and performed byartists including Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Perry Como, and he was awarded a lifetime achievement Grammy in 2014.

He has since written more than 400 songs and released more than 30 albums, including nine since 2001, as Manzanero collaborated with a younger generation of Spanish-language romantic pop singers such as Alejandro Sanz, Luis Miguel and Lucero.

Manzanero’s impact on Latin music, especially romantic “bolero” songs, was widely recognized during his lifetime. He received Lifetime Achievement Awards from both the Latin Grammys in 2010 and the Grammys in 2014. Earlier this year, the Billboard Latin Music Awards recognized him with a Lifetime Achievement Award, with musicians including Luis Fonsi and Pablo Alborán performing a medley of hits as Manzanero accompanied on piano.

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This Was A Rough Year And These Are The Celebrities And Icons We Were Forced To Say Goodbye To In 2020

Entertainment

This Was A Rough Year And These Are The Celebrities And Icons We Were Forced To Say Goodbye To In 2020

Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

There’s no denying that 2020 has been one hell of a year. It seemed like everyday we were waking up to some new shocking headline about the election, the pandemic, racial justice, or celebrity death.

Not only did the year 2020 take our sense of normalcy right out from under us, but it also took with it some of our most iconic and beloved stars, celebrities, and icons.

Sadly, we’ve said goodbye to too many to include all of them here but from Kobe Bryant’s fatal helicopter crash in January to the tragic loss of Glee star Naya Rivera, we have many to pay our respects to as we look back on those we lost in 2020.

Kobe Bryant

The NBA star died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, CA, in January. Kobe was traveling with eight other people, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna. The aircraft reportedly crashed “amid foggy conditions” and a small brush fire erupted. There were no survivors.

Naya Rivera

The Glee actress was found dead on July 13, five days after she went missing while boatingwith her 4-year-old son, Josey Dorsey (whom she shared with ex-husband Ryan Dorsey). She was 33 years old.

Ruth Badger Ginsburg

The Supreme Court justice and women’s rights pioneer died at age 87 on Sept. 18 after battling metastatic pancreatic cancer.

“Our nation has lost a jurist of historic stature,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said in a statement, per The New York Times. “We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her — a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”

Chadwick Boseman

Credit: Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

Chadwick Boseman, best known for his role as T’Challa/Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, died at age 43 in August after a four-year battle with colon cancer.

His death caused an outpouring of grief from fans around the world and it’s completely altered future plans for the Black Panther series.

Regis Philbin

The famed television host died of natural causes at age 88 on July 24. He was well-known for his decades-spanning career and particularly his time on the Today show with Kathy Lee Gifford.

Natalie Desselle Reid

Deselle-Reid died in early December at age 53 after a private battle with colon cancer.

She was best known for roles on the UPN series Eve (2003-2006) and the Robert Townsend-directed 1997 comedy B.A.P.S., in which she played a waitress in Georgia who ends up caring for a Beverly Hills millionaire and living the life of “Black American Princesses.” The cult classic famously co-starred Halle Berry.

Diego Maradona

The Argentinian soccer legend died on November 25 at the age of 60. The former athlete, who famously scored the “Hand of God” goal during the 1986 World Cup, reportedly suffered a heart attack three weeks after he underwent surgery to remove a blood clot on his brain.

Alex Trebek

Sadly, the world was forced to say goodbye to iconic Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek after he battled stage four pancreatic cancer. He passed away at the age of 80 and his death was reported by the show: “Jeopardy! is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends,” the show’s official account tweeted on Nov. 8. “Thank you, Alex.”

Sean Connery

The actor, best known for playing James Bond, died at age 90 on Oct. 31. James Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said in a statement: “He was and shall always be remembered as the original James Bond whose indelible entrance into cinema history began when he announced those unforgettable words — ‘The name’s Bond… James Bond’ — he revolutionised the world with his gritty and witty portrayal of the sexy and charismatic secret agent. He is undoubtedly largely responsible for the success of the film series and we shall be forever grateful to him.”

Doreen Montalvo

Known for her roles in Madame Secretary and The Good Wife, Montalvo died in October of a stroke at just 56 years old.

Montalvo’s manager, Steve Maihack, said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “She was having quite the year with two films in the can and a new Broadway show … but she would be so happy to know she will live on through these projects and the outpouring of love from every corner of the business.”

Anthony Galindo Ibarra

Anthony Galindo, popularly known as El Papijoe, was a popular model, singer, and actor from Venezuela. Beginning in 1995, Galindo was part of the last stage of Latino boy band Menudo along with his teammates Abel Talamántez, Alexis Grullón, and Didier Hernández. 

Galindo died at age 41 after being hospitalized for injuries suffered in a suicide attempt the previous week.

Eddie Van Halen

The Van Halen guitarist died of cancer in October. He was 65.

Little Richard

The legendary and iconic “Tutti Frutti” singer died from bone cancer on May 9. He was 87 years old.

John Lewis

Credit: Saul Loeb / Getty Images

The congressman and civil rights icon died at age 80 in July after battling stage four pancreatic cancer. John Lewis was a legend in the fight for equality and helped give hope and also real tangible rights to countless Americans in his battle for equality.

La Parka

The famous wrestler, whose real name is Jesus Alfonso Huerta Escoboza, died in January of injuries related to an in-ring accident. Reports indicate he was 54 or 55.

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