How well represented are Hispanic and Latinx actors in Hollywood? Last year, a study released by the Media, Diversity and Social Change Initiative at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism showed that even though Hispanics and Latinx make up 17.4 percent of the population in the United States, they comprised only 5.8 of all speaking roles in television. Additionally, many of these roles reinforce stereotypes many have about Hispanics; Tre’vell Anderson at the LA Times wrote about four Latinx stereotypes that need to go: the spicy sexpot, the maid, the gangbanger, and the Spanish-only speaker.
In spite of the tendency of Hollywood to cast Hispanic and Latinx actors in such roles, there are still a great many actors who are bringing better visibility to their culture. In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, we wanted to share the bios of some of our favorite Hispanic/Latinx actors who are working to make their culture visible in Hollywood today.
Perhaps known best in the United States for his Academy Award winning role as Chigurh in the Coen Brothers’ film No Country For Old Men, Javier Bardem hails from the Canary Islands in Spain and has been acting in films since he was six years old. Now more visible in Hollywood films than in Spain, Bardem is married to actress Penélope Cruz; they have two children together.
Cruz was born in Madrid and has been acting since her teens. She has also modeled in campaigns for Ralph Lauren, L’Oréal and the Spanish clothing company Mango, for whom she also designed a line of clothing. Her breakthrough role came in the film Jamón, jamón; she later married her co-star in that film, Javier Bardem. Her first American lead role came in 2000 with Women On Top, and she’s been recognizable face on the screen in the United States ever since.
Gomez hails from Texas and received her early acting break in the children’s series Barney & Friends, followed by recurring role in Disney’s Hannah Montana. Gomez was named after the late Tejano singer and actress Selena Quintanilla-Pérez. Lately more familiar for her appearances on the pop charts than on television, Gomez hasn’t left Hollywood altogether: she was an executive producer of the hit Netflix series 13 Reasons Why.
Rodriguez was born in Chicago and is of Puerto Rican descent. Her work on the CW comedy Jane the Virgin as Jane Villanueva earned her a Golden Globe award for Best Actress in a Television Series Musical or Comedy and both her work and the show in general have done a great deal for the exposure of Hispanic culture to television audiences. She holds a BFA from Tisch School of the Arts, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the largest non-profit organization in the United States supporting higher education for Hispanic Americans.
Michelle Rodriguez was born in San Antonio, Texas. Her breakout role came with the independent film Girlfight, for which she won an Independent Spirit Award; she won the role by answering an open call for auditions. Since her breakout, she has starred in the popular television series Lost, and is recently recognizable for her work in the Fast and Furious action franchise.
Born in Los Angeles and of Mexican ancestry, Trejo is known widely for his character actor roles; he has played in hundreds of films and television shows since the mid-80s. Most recently he received a cult-like status for his role as Machete, the main character in the Robert Rodriguez films of the same name. He has since become a restaurateur, opening three successful restaurants in Los Angeles: Trejo’s Tacos, Trejo’s Cantina, and in May of this year, Trejo’s Coffee & Donuts.
Vergara recently became known to most American families thanks to her comedic role as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett, the beautiful younger wife of the older curmudgeonly family patriarch in ABC’s Modern Family. She hails from Colombia and has been acting in films since the early 2000s; in the 1990s she was recognizable from her working hosting two shows on Univisión: Fuera de serie, and A que no te atreves.
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