The early 2000s look quite a bit different than the days of current. For one, in the early 2000s, we never quite imagined that we’d enter a pandemic, continue to mourn the lives of Black people killed by the police, let alone lose a talent such as Naya Rivera. And yet, this week, while COVID-19 ravages countries across the globe fans of the “Glee” star are mourning her death. What’smore Afro-Latinas are mourning the Black queen and her part in bringing Black Girl Magic to the screen.

In honor of Naya Rivera, we’re honoring all of the Afro-Latina teens we still admire.

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Santana Lopez

Back in 2009, Naya Rivera took up the role of Santana Lopez and automatically made Afro-Latinas watching hold a torch for her. While Rivera’s role as Lopez saw her play the part of a cheerleader whose wrath could be devastating at best, fans also saw a rare character. Little mainstream TV shows have portrayed Afro-Latina LGBTQ+ characters and Rivera’s part in the series quickly cemented a character beloved by generations.

Eva Rodriguez

For her part in the breakout film Center Stage, Zoe Saldana played Eva Rodriguez an Afro-Latina actress who had a hard time falling in line as a new recruit of the fictional American Ballet Academy. For Black girls watching, Saldana’s role was a reminder that in spite of the various main white characters that made up the film, Black girls could be the star and also steal the stage. While it’s hardly discussed in the film that Eva is the only Black girl in her class, all of the Black girls watching knew it. And while the art of ballet has worked to exclude Black girls from its form for years, we couldn’t help but love Eva for sticking it to her cohorts and stealing center stage in the end.


Puerto Rican actress Christina Vidal took on a breakout role in the Nickelodeon sitcom “Taina” that lasted only for two seasons. Still, years and years later she’s proven to be a beloved character by Afro-Latinas who saw themselves in this Afro-Latina who vowed to see her name in lights.

Christina Milian

While Christina Milian might have shot to mainstream fame for her role in the 2003 film Love Don’t Cost a Thing, many of her fans fell in love with her as a singer. From singles like “AM to PM” and “When You Look at Me,” Milian captivated our hearts and made many of us young Afro-Latinas feel seen as part of a main culture.