Photo: Lea Flores Photography; courtesy of Angel Aviles
Culture

Angel Aviles is “Too Happy to Be a Sad Girl”

Angel Aviles is a fixture in Latinx pop culture. Her character of Sad Girl in the 1993 cult classic, Mi Vida Loca, repping the tough-as-nails East L.A. chola, has lived on. Although she isn’t acting much these days, Aviles has continued to connect to the Latinx community as a transformational life coach, speaker, and founder of the lifestyle brand Living Firme.

In 2009, Angel Aviles was hit with anxiety, panic attacks, and depression, causing her to look inward to find her way to happiness. And she’s sharing what she learned along the way in her new book, Too Happy to Be Sad Girl. We recently interviewed Angel, on her new book,  Mi Vida Loca and its impact, and advice she wants to share with Latinas everywhere. Along with her responses, we want to share other important things you should know about her.

 

Acting is in Her Blood

Acting is definitely in Angel Aviles’ blood. Her mother, Connie, was part of a local theater group in New York, and made sure to share the arts with her children. Did you know that Angel, a Chicanx icon is a Nuyorican from the Lower East Side?! Yes! She left New York to pursue acting in Hollywood, after studying dance at the High School of Performing Arts, drama at Hunter College, appearing in several commercials, and acting on daytime TV.

You Know Her Actor Brother, Rick

You may not know that you know Angel Aviles’ brother. Rick Aviles is best known for playing Willie Lopez, the man who shot and killed Patrick Swayze’s character, Sam Wheat, in the movie Ghost. Aviles also worked on several TV shows, and other films, including The Godfather Part III, Carlito’s Way, The Cannonball Run, and Waterworld. Rick also was host of the show It’s Showtime at The Apollo. Angel and Rick’s brother, Rod Reyes, is also known as a stand-up comedian.

She’s a Proud Mom

Besides being an actress, director, producer, writer, transformational life coach, speaker, and now author, Angel Aviles is first and foremost a proud mom to three children. On her Instagram, she posts photos of her two daughters and son, their accomplishments, and how much she loves them and is proud of them.

Mi Vida Loca Made Angel Aviles a Pop Culture Icon

1993’s Mi Vida Loca made Angel Aviles as Sad Girl a Latinx pop culture icon. You will see her mean mugging on everything, including memes, tees, jewelry, air fresheners, in art, as tattoos, and more. Almost 30 years later, people are still quoting the movie, using it as inspiration, and finding inspiration in both Sad Girl and Aviles.

“Representation matters. Generations of women have seen themselves, their tias, moms, and sisters, in those characters,” Angel says when explaining why Mi Vida Loca has become such a cult classic.

“At the film’s core is a love story. And who doesn’t love a good love story? But there’s a twist to this one; it’s not your average tale of boy meets girl. It’s more like girl meets girl, neighborhood, boy, baby, life, death. The love in Mi Vida Loca is multilayered and complicated. We wanted to make sure you loved these characters. They were flawed, but we wanted you to love them anyway. Because we did.”

When speaking on the appeal of the chola lifestyle, Aviles says:

“Love her or hate her, the Chola is a symbol of resistance. She is unapologetically proud and brown. Every stitch of her wardrobe, every strand of hair, is thoughtfully assembled. Like a warrior, she paints herself because she is not under the delusion that the world is at peace. She takes on the burdens of her man, her family, and whatever else comes her way. Life or death, she is ready.”

Angel Aviles’ Other Acting Work in Hollywood

Sure, you instantly know Angel Aviles from Mi Vida Loca, but as an actress, she has appeared in tons of other projects. Her film roles include playing Zamira in Desperado, Anna Guiterrez in Equinox, Nadia in Scorpion Sting, and Linda in Deliverance from Evil. As for shows, this year, Angel played Bloody Maria on the show of the same name, and even co-starred with MiVidaLoca‘s Mousie, friend Seidy Lopez on an episode of ER, among other roles.

When we asked Aviles what Hollywood needs to do to properly portray Latinxs narratives, she shared:

“In my honest opinion, the first thing that has to happen is that we all stop looking to Hollywood to fix anything. Hollywood is a machine, and it’s not going to fix anything that it does not deem broken. Latinos will go to movies. Hollywood knows that our brown asses will fill those seats no matter what they put out, so they make what they think white audiences will buy. When WE decide that we’re not going to watch films that don’t represent us and box office sales reflect our displeasure, Hollywood may have reason to change.”

She is also a Director, Producer and Writer

Besides acting, Angel Aviles has also worked as a director, producer, and writer. She directed, executive produced, and write for the series Sporting Grace, which she also co-created, and also directed the TV show Battle of the Taste Buds.

Angel Aviles Just Released a Book

As we mentioned previously, Angel Aviles just released her book, Too Happy to be Sad Girl: Surviving Sadness, Ditching Anxiety, and Learning to Thrive, in November. Some of the things the book promises to teach you include:

  • “Saying “yes” to your purpose. 
  • Recognizing the importance of mental health. 

  • Navigating imposter syndrome. 

  • Manifesting your goals. 

  • Celebrating life!”

“To my readers, I say this,” Aviles shares:

“I hope you can relate to and benefit from the many hard lessons I’ve learned, like how grace, forgiveness, and empathy are powerful transformation tools. You must bless yourself with these gifts daily. Ultimately, I want you to boldly go within yourself and find the truth. What will you find there? Who knows? But don’t be afraid. I found love, beauty, hope, and worthiness in my darkest moments. My findings brought a sense of peace, confidence, and purpose. I’m living my best life, and more than anything, I want you to know that you deserve the same. ”

Angel is the Founder of Living Firme

Another place where you can find major inspiration and motivation courtesy of Angel Aviles is through her lifestyle brand , Living Firme. Described as “culturally relevant training and events, inspired by and created by BIPOC and Latinx communities and those that serve us,” Living Firme aims to educate and empower, while also having fun.

Aviles is a Motivational Speaker and Transformational Life Coach

Angel also speaks across the nation as a motivational speaker and transformational life coach. We asked her to give Latinas today the best piece of advice that she could share:

“Recently I read a study that stated 76% of Latinos are covering or downplaying who they are. They are modifying their appearance, their body language, their communication style, and their leadership presence at work. Isn’t that some shit? Could you be mentally, spiritually and physically living like this? I couldn’t. Repression is certainly the quickest ride to anxiety, panic and imposter syndrome that I know. Just be your damn self. You are enough. You may even be too much for some and that’s ok. Learn to love you and your confidence will be a breeding ground for success.”

True words of wisdom.

She’s Still Friends with Her Co-stars from Mi Vida Loca

It seems like Mi Vida Loca united not only Latinxs everywhere, but also the actors and actresses from the film. Whether it’s as part of interviews and events about the ’90s classic, or just hanging out, Angel Aviles is still friends with her homegirls and homeboys from the film, including Seidy Lopez (Mousie), Jacob Vargas (Ernesto), Christina Solis (Baby Doll), and Jesse Borrego (Cruzito). She shares that her “most treasured moments were always about working with people who came together to make art and left a production closer than some families.” It’s further proof that Latinx unity and mutual support is where it’s at.