Latinas are always in the mix when it comes to beauty and style. Obviously, this includes Afro-Latinas as well, although they don’t always get as much shine as they truly deserve. Luckily, we’re here to point the spotlight at any and every Latina who is winning at what they do. Here we take a look at 30 stylish Afro-Latinas of the past and present, who haven’t just stood out in their careers but have slayed the fashion game.
Legendary Afro-Cubana Celia Cruz is the reigning Queen of Salsa, known for earning countless awards, breaking records, and becoming an international superstar. But she was just as known for her unique, bold style. This included an array of colorful, voluminous wigs, which were color-coordinated with ornate, ruffled, and sparkling gowns. The accessories were just as in-your-face with statement earrings and necklaces, as well as her iconic heel-less shoes. Celia’s fashion was instantly recognizable, impossible to be copied, and was part of her entire image as a singer and star. She’s a great reminder that when it comes to style, it’s not always about “less is more.” Sometimes it’s, go big or go home!
Tessa Thompson, who is part Afro-Panamanian and Mexican, hasn’t been on the Hollywood scene for that long (her first TV role was in 2005), but she is already standing out for both her acting and her style. She has starred in films, including Selma, Creed, and Creed II, and when it’s time to hit the red carpet, Tessa Thompson has a look planned which is fresh, unique, and stylish. Tessa definitely is an actress who will have us asking “what will she be wearing to so-and-so awards?!” In addition to being an actress, Tessa Thompson is also a singer and songwriter.
Guadalupe Victoria Yoli Raymond, better known as La Lupe, is the Queen of Latin Soul. Known for her emotional, energetic performances, she also had some great style moments. The Afro-Cubana was the first Latinx artist to sell out Madison Square Garden, and collaborated with other iconic artists, including Tito Puente and Mongo Santamaria. La Lupe was also on the pulse of current trends. Her hairstyles and outfits were always of-the-moment, to the point that you can often date photos of her based on the beauty and fashion present. Fellow Afro-Latina Luna Lauren Velez was selected to play La Lupe in the film They Call Me La Lupe.
Afro-Dominican-Puerto Rican actress Zoe Saldana is the only actor to star in two films which grossed $2 billion each. Saldana is also a dancer, which explains her effortless grace. This extends to the red carpet, where the star has worn classic, timeless looks, as well as style risks which have paid off. She also maintains a chic style in her everyday life. Whether it’s a simple tee and jeans, or an on-trend ensemble, Zoe Saldana is always true to her signature style. We look forward to seeing both more of her films, and more of her fashion looks.
Afro-Dominicana rapper Trina has been in the rap game for over 20 years. So, we’ve been able to see a lot of her iconic fashion moments and the evolution of her personal style. The Diamond Princess loves to show off her curves, sport sparkles, put her own twist on styling designer labels, and take risks on the regular. One moment, you’ll catch her in a baseball cap and sneakers, the next a super feminine gown and heels. And she is always representing for the 305, every chance she gets. Trina’s latest album, The One, is set to drop this year.
We first met Yaya DaCosta, born Camara DaCosta Johnson, on Cycle 3 of America’s Next Top Model. Although she didn’t win (she was runner up), the part Afro-Brazilian went on to have a successful modeling and acting career. Yaya has modeled for Olay, Garnier Fructis, and Sephora, among other clients. As an actress, she has appeared on several TV shows including Ugly Betty, All My Children, and Chicago Med, and in films, including The Kids Are Alright, and Tron: Legacy. DaCosta’s off-duty style is on-point, often featuring color, print, and flattering silhouettes.
La La Anthony
La La Anthony is another Afro-Latinx star who has been in the public eye for several years. The Afro-Puerto Rican has made the transition from a radio career, to TV host, to actress and author. On that journey, we have been able to see her style evolve from the 2000s to today, along with the trends. Her personal style is a mix of high glam, body-con sexiness, New York hip-hop style, and on-trend fashionista. La La has been able to take this fab style and translate it into fashion collaborations with Lord & Taylor and Ashley Stewart.
Joan Smalls is an Afro-Latinx supermodel. The Afro-Puerto Rican, who has appeared on runways for top brands, including Fendi, Victoria’s Secret, Givenchy, Burberry, and Diane von Furstenberg, makes clothing look amazing for a living. She is also the first Latina face for Estee Lauder, giving both Latinxs and Afro-Latinxs more visibility and representation in the world of beauty brands. Her model-off-duty looks are effortless, stylish, and offer a little something extra to elevate the ensembles (be it a red moto jacket, fun print, or pop of color.
Tatyana Ali was one of the cool girls we grew up watching on TV. The Afro-Panamanian starred as rich girl Ashley Banks on the super popular sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. With the role came a bunch of fashionable, on-trend, ’90s outfits that we wanted to copy. Add to that the fact that she is also a singer, (with hit songs “Daydreamin” and”Boy You Knock Me Out”) and she was a real, positive ’90s Latina role model — and continues to be!
Amara La Negra
Amara La Negra’s style is bold, colorful, and in-your-face. What makes it even better is that it is backed by confidence, and self love about who she is. Amara famously defended her glorious afro against a music producer who wanted her to look “more Beyoncé and less Macy Gray” on an episode of Love and Hip Hop: Miami, and we’ve been in her corner ever since. We are waiting for Amara to blow all the way up (“Insecure” is a great song, btw), and all the outfits that will come with it.
Another notable model on this list of fashionistas is Afro-Cuban-Puerto Rican Brandi Quinones. She has graced several covers of Vogue magazine and Elle, and modeled for brands including Chanel, Versace, and Dior. The fabulous 42-year-old Latinx is still modeling today, looking amazing, and making everything she poses for that much more fabulous.
A lot of people don’t know that Jhene is Latina but the singer’s mother is part Japanese, Spanish, and Dominican. She’s also African American, German, and Native American. But we are proud to have her as one of our own! The Afro-Latinx has been nominated for three Grammys and one American Music Award, and has won a BET Award for her song, “The Worst.” Aside from her soothing voice, Jhene has a fab style which is worth mentioning. It can be described as eclectic, with a lot of print, Japanese inspiration, high-waisted wide-leg pants, crop tops, and a fearless attitude.
Arlenis Sosa is the Afro-Dominican supermodel who was signed on the spot when she traveled to New York. She is seen as an overnight success — a rarity in the modeling world. Sosa is the current face of beauty company Lancome and has also modeled for clients including Victoria’s Secret, Polo Ralph Lauren, and H&M. Her model-off-duty style is classic, timeless, yet still on-trend. The showstopper was her stunning wedding dress, designed by Reem Acra.
Afro-Cuban Gina Torres may star on the television show Suits, but she’s a fashionista who wears much more than those. The film and television actress has a refined, classic style, which features fun prints and pops of color here and there, such as the dress Torres wore to the royal wedding of Prince Harry and fellow Suits actress Meghan Markle. Perhaps the best ingredient of all Gina Torres’ looks is her elegance, strength, and confidence, which she shows both on the red carpet, and while speaking her mind.
Tais Araujo is an Afro-Latina actress, model, and television host. When the Rio native starred in the TV adaptation of the film Xica da Silva, she became the first Afro-Brazilian to play the lead role in a novela in Brazil. In 2016, Vogue magazine named Araujo Brazil’s most stylish, and most brave, television star. You can usually catch her in a white gown on the red carpet, in more casual looks that feature a pop of color, print, or metallic shine, and letting her natural beautiful curls bounce freely.
Afro-Cubana Juju is not afraid of fashion. The Love & Hip Hop star, actress, realtor, entrepreneur, and author knows how to have fun with style. She will wear a variety of colors, textures, and prints but everything works to enhance her hourglass figure instead of working against it. Her tiny waist is always highlighted, as are her curves. The looks are almost always body-con, well-thought-out, stylish, and sexy.
Gloria “Goyo” Martinez
Gloria “Goyo” Martinez is the Afro-Colombiana singer in the group ChocQuibTown. The band, hailing from Chocó, Colombia, uses their music to rep their Afro-Latinx identity and pride. This identity and pride is part of Goyo’s overall aesthetic, which includes beautiful head wraps, and equally beautiful braids, a voluminous, show-stopping red carpet dress, tons of yellow, bold, statement accessories, and on-trend looks.
Lais Ribeiro is an Afro-Brazilian model, who has walked for Victoria’s Secret, Balmain, Chanel, Versace, and Louis Vuitton, among others. She has also been in a number of ad campaigns, for brands including GAP, Ralph Lauren, Christian Dior, and Tom Ford. Lais has been photographed for four different editions of Vogue: American, Brazilian, Italian, and German, and has become a bonafide successful model. Ribeiro’s personal style is just as sparkling—literally. She has worn several shimmering looks on the red carpet.
Mariah Carey is all about fashion that reflects her diva image. We’re talking crystals, designer gowns, sexy ensembles, no expenses spared, and drama added where it can be. Let’s face it, the Afro-Venezolana wouldn’t be Mariah without that. The look doesn’t stop there though. There also has to be an ample number of diamonds, be it her signature butterfly ring, or the $10 million 35-carat rock that her ex-fiancee gave her before their split. The next necessity is sky-high heels (Mariah even was filmed working out on a stair climber in stilettos), and a few “dahlings,” and she’s set.
Cardi B does what Cardi B wants. That includes wearing what she wants. The Afro-Dominicana can wear a look fresh off the runway one second and then turn around and don a stripper-inspired ensemble the next. It doesn’t stop with just the outfit either — accessories such as colorful wigs, jewelry, and bold sunglasses add another level of oomph to her outfits. The coolest part is that whatever Cardi decides to wear, she makes it completely hers. She is one of the stars we always look forward to seeing on red carpets to see what she will wear next.
Afro-Dominican Orange is the New Black actress Dascha Polanco is leading a movement of body positivity among women, especially those in Hollywood. She fought against the notion that actresses have to be model-thin, and instead embraced her curvy figure. This, in turn, has allowed so many other women to do the same. Polanco is often seen on the red carpet out and about, wearing body-con clothes, instead of being super covered up, and working with her body type fashion-wise — instead of against it.
Afro-Dominican actress Dania Ramirez can be counted on to wear a beautiful gown on the red carpet, one which often adds a much-needed pop of color to the sea of neutral options. Take, for instance, the emerald green gown she wore to the 2012 NCLR ALMA Awards or the orangey-red dress she donned to the Premium Rush premiere. Or how about the stunning, rich cobalt blue dress for the El Sueño de Esperanza Gala? We are SO here for it!
Afro-Cubana singer and actress Christina Milian knows how to dress her figure without overwhelming her small, 5’2″ frame. This means more streamlined, body-con looks, that aren’t too voluminous or long. Christina also likes to partake in the latest trends, done her way. The chanteuse once had her own clothing store called We Are Pop Culture, in Los Angeles.
Whatever purple, lace, embellished awesomeness Prince was serving us in the ’80s, Afro-Latinx drummer, singer, actress, and author Sheila E was serving right back. Her iconic style was all about big hair; cropped tight turtlenecks, embroidered jackets with big shoulders, pops of pink, and of course purple. And who can forget her signature leggings with just the one leg?! Afro-Mexicana Sheila sang about the Glamorous Life and gave us just that with her lavish style.
The legendary Afro-Cubana entertainer Lola Falana was the First Lady of Vegas, and her clothing epitomized that. Each look was showstopping — feathers, sequins, shimmer and shine, dancing fringe, sexy slits, beautiful colors. It’s what we have come to expect from a Las Vegas star and she did it during the ’60s, the ’70s, and ’80s.
Afro-Dominican model Sessilee Lopez made history in 2008 when she appeared on one of the four covers of Vogue Italia’s All Black issue. She has also graced the cover of Harper’s Bazaar, walked in several fashion shows, including Victoria Secret, Vivienne Westwood, Lanvin, and Oscar de la Renta. She has posed for ad campaigns, including those for Hermes, Levi’s, Lanvin, and Gap, and Sessilee’s model-off-duty looks are usually classic, given something extra with a pop of color, or a fun print.
Afro-Cuban singer Xiomara Alfaro was known for her beautiful voice, but like most performers, her overall image also included the elements of fashion and beauty. Along with other Cubana stars of the same time period (the 1950s), Celia Cruz, and Olga Guillot, Alfaro wore Hollywood-esque strapless, sparkling gowns, furs (not my favorite but they were very popular at the time), and boas. She was all about being center stage and standing out with her beautiful voice and equally beautiful wardrobe.
Afro-Puerto Rican TV personality, model, author, and spokesperson Evelyn Lozada, who appears on the reality show, Basketball Wives, has consistently shown that she has great style. It’s a mix of body-con sexiness, New York Hip Hop street style, high-end designer labels, and her interpretation of current trends. Evelyn always adds that Latinx flair to everything as well, be it with her signature oversized hoops, acrylic nails, or by rocking her naturally curly hair.
Afro-Puerto-Rican and Cuban actress, activist, producer, comic book writer, and singer Rosario Dawson just dropped a winning collection at New York Fashion Week, from the brand she co-founded, called Studio 189. The clothing featured beautiful African prints and celebrated Ghana’s Year of the Return. Rosario has been known to wow in quite a few winning red carpet looks of her own.
Afro-Puerto Rican actress and singer Naya Rivera got her big break on the hit television show Glee, where she was able to showcase her singing ability. Her style is equally a hit. Rivera looks often feature neutral colors, like black, grey, and white; classic, body-con silhouettes, and a hint of sexiness. It’s obvious she knows what works on her, and keeps to that.