Best of 2023: 17 of the Best Latin Pop Culture Moments

From "Blue Beetle" to the massive success of Bad Bunny & Shakira, here are 16 of the best Latin pop culture moments from 2023

Latinx pop culture 2023


We’re nearing the end of 2023 — what an incredible year for the Latinx community, especially in pop culture despite the continued struggle for better representation and inclusion. Though we saw the cancellation of more Latinx-led shows like With Love and the On My Block spin-off Freeridge despite being loved by viewers. There was also a study that found that Latinx representation in media and entertainment is only decreasing. But at the same time, there’s been a lot of success and wins for us in entertainment that are reminders that progress is happening in real time. So we decided to put together a list of all the moments that are worth celebrating as another year comes to a close like Blue Beetle becoming the first Latinx-led live action superhero film or Latinxs like Gloria Estefan and Daddy Yankee making important, groundbreaking strides in music. We are so proud of how far we’ve come together! Read on to learn more about 17 of the best Latinx pop culture moments in 2023.

America Ferrera as Gloria in Barbie

Barbie was one of the most successful movies of the year, grossing almost $1.5 billion at the box office and garnering critical acclaim and numerous awards. Honduran American actress America Ferrera plays Gloria, a Mattel employee who helps Barbie comes to terms with her humanity and escape capture by Mattel. One of her shining moments was a powerful monologue she gave at the climax about the impossibility of being a woman in today’s world, which went viral online and kicked off important conversations in the community about feminism and patriarchy. It was a shining moment for Latinas and every woman everywhere and undeniably one of the most memorable scenes in the film.

Blue Beetle Became First Live-Action Latinx Superhero Film

Marvel’s 2018 animated film Into the Spider-Verse was praised for centering an Afro-Latino character, though it was not voiced by an Afro-Latino, it was still a major win for representation especially as a superhero. Fast-forward to 2023, the first year that Latinx moviegoers, especially DC fans, were able to see themselves in a live-action superhero film. Blue Beetle was history making featuring a majority-Latinx cast, director, and writers from day one. It’s also one of the few Latinx movies not to focus on our trauma but to center Latinx joy, humor, and family dynamics. It starred Xolo Maridueña, who is of Mexican, Cuban, and Ecuadorian descent, as the titular character along with Adriana Barraza, Damián Alcázar, Raoul Max Trujillo, and George Lopez plus it was directed by Puerto Rican filmmaker Ángel Manuel Soto.

Ada Limón’s Poem Went to Space

Since becoming the first Chicana U.S. Poet Laureate in history in 2022, Ada Limón has continued to make important strides in literary communities and push other Latinx writers to the forefront. One stand-out moment for her this year was when she collaborated with NASA and had her poem “In Praise of Mystery: A Poem for Europa” engraved on the Europa Clipper spacecraft. After being built in California, the spacecraft launched in October and is currently headed to Europa, the second moon of Jupiter, where it will conduct research on its ocean, crust, and atmosphere. It won’t reach Jupiter until 2030 but just knowing that it’s on its way and that Limón’s work is literally out of this world and will live on in space is truly a one-of-a-kind win for la comunidad.

Shakira Broke Music Records and Made History at the VMAs

Shakira had some huge wins throughout 2023 including several hit singles but none were as extraordinary as her accomplishments recognized by Billboard and the VMAs. In April, Shakira became the first recipient of Billboard’s new award category “Latin Woman of the Year.” She was honored during the first-ever Mujeres Latinas en la Música (Latin Women in Music) gala hosted by Billboard and Telemundo, all in recognition of her talent and success in the music industry. Later in the year, she made history again when she became the first South American artist to win the MTV Video Vanguard award at the 2023 VMA MTV award show. She was the second Latina overall to be honored after Jennifer Lopez won the same award in 2018. We already can’t wait to see what new ground Shakira breaks in 2024.

“Gasolina” Was Inducted into National Recording Registry & Daddy Yankee Retires

Everyone knows Daddy Yankee’s 2004 hit single “Gasolina,” which has stood the test of time decades later and remains one of the most popular and successful Latin songs of all time. It’s considered of the best reggaeton songs in history by critics and fans alike and now the U.S. has joined in the praise.The Library of Congress announced that the song was chosen for preservation in the National Recording Registry, making it the first reggaeton song to receive the honor. It was amazing to see an important cultural staple be recognized on the national stage and for reggaeton to finally be taken seriously as a genre of music with long, important history and influence. While Yankee also announced his retirement from music this year, he’s clearly closing it out on a high note having received this level of recognition, especially in this genre of music.

Bad Bunny Became First Spanish-language Artist to Headline Coachella

Since his debut in 2016, Bad Bunny has quickly become of the most successful artists of his generation, breaking streaming records and earning dozens of awards throughout his career. One major win this year was when he headlined the music festival Coachella, becoming the first Spanish-language artist in history to do so. Hopefully, this means more diversity and inclusion in music line-ups not just at Coachella but at other music festivals around the country. We deserve to see ourselves represented at some of the biggest stages in entertainment and hearing Bad Bunny perform unapologetically in Spanish was a huge win for our community.

Zoe Saldaña Became First Actor to Appear in 4 Multibillion Dollar Movies

Puerto Rican and Dominican American actress Zoe Saldaña has been making positive strides for Afro-Latina representation in media. At the beginning of the year, she became the first actor with four movies that each earned more than $2 billion. That weekend, she released her film Avatar: The Way of Water, which quickly earned $2 billion at the box office. Her three other films to reach such this milestone included Avatar (2009), Avengers: Endgame (2019) and Avengers: Infinity War (2018). Not only is this a major moment for the 45-year-old star but it’s also important to note that an Afro-Latina actress achieved this considering the lack of visibility Afro-Latinas have in Hollywood.

Hillary Heron Made History at the World Gymnastic Championship

Nineteen-year-old Panamanian gymnast Hillary Heron made history at the 2023 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships this year. During the competition, she performed the Biles I, one of the most difficult vaults named after world-famous gymnast Simon Biles, during her floor exercise while Biles was present at the competition. Heron became the first non-U.S. athlete to land the double layout with a half twist and the first gymnast in history other than Biles to perform it in a Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG) international competition.

Xochitl Gomez Became Second Latina to Win Dancing With the Stars

Seventeen-year-old Xochitl Gomez, who is of Mexican descent, and her partner Val Chmerkovskiy were announced as the first place winners of season 32 of Dancing with the Stars. She’s now the second Latina to win and the second youngest winner following Hernandez on both counts. Hernandez won in 2016 at the age of 16 and she was also partnered with Chmerkovskiy. During her stint on the show, she performed the samba and also paid homage to Dia de Muertos performing a free style dance with an ofrenda on stage. Not only did she make history with her win, she made sure to represent her culture on one of the most popular competition shows on TV.

Sheynnis Palacios Became First Nicaraguan to be Crowned Miss Universe

It’s been amazing to see major Latina wins at Miss Universe pageants in the past including Daniela Arroyo Gonzalez, the first openly transgender woman to participate in Miss Universe Puerto Rico, and Afro-Latina Michelle Marie Colón, first time a non-white woman that represented Puerto Rico at the Miss Universe pageant in years. This year, we got our first Nicaraguan winner Sheynnis Palacios, who won the Miss Universe pageant in November wearing a blue and white dress inspired by her native country’s flag. The 23-year-old model was the also first Nicaraguan in history to win one of the Big Four international beauty pageants and the first Central American to win the pageant overall.

Pedro Pascal Made History at the Emmys & Won Hearts on “The Last of Us”

If nothing else, you could say that 2023 was the year of Pedro Pascal. The Chilean actor starred in a number of highly successful projects including the TV series The Last of Us, which is developing a second season, as the lead Joel Miller. Upon release on Max, the series received critical acclaim and during awards season, he made history at the Emmys as the second Latino actor since 1999 to receive a nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. He also received two additional Emmy nominations including Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his hosting work on Saturday Night Live and Outstanding Narrator for Patagonia: Life on the Edge of the World. He’s already slated to appear in three films in 2024 including Freaky Tales, Drive Away Dolls, and Gladiator 2.

Barbie Released Celia Cruz Doll for Latinx Heritage Month

Throughout the years, Mattel has created a line of Latina Barbies including Glora Estafan and Frida Kahlo. This year saw the release of the much-anticipated Celia Cruz Barbie just in time for Latinx Heritage Month and in recognition of the “Queen of Salsa”‘s legacy as an Cuban music icon. Designed by Filipino artist Carlyle Nuera, the doll paid homage to Cruz with her signature updo, red lipstick, bold eyshadow, and gold microphone. The limited-edition doll quickly sold out online, showing the importance of this lasting figure to the Latinx community.

Karol G Makes History on Tour and at the Latin Grammys

Karol G had some major wins this year including being the first Latina to headline Lollapalooza and breaking a Spotify record with the release of her new album, Mañana Será Bonito. The fan response to her album was evident was when she told out two consecutive nights at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena for her “Mañana Sera Bonita” tour, becoming the first Latin American artist to do so. After kicking off in Las Vegas in August, the tour also became the highest-grossing U.S. tour by a Latina, earning almost $70 million dollars in ticket sales. “Mañana Será Bonito” also earned her a Latin Grammy for best urban music album which mean she became the first woman to win in that category.

‘Not Dead Yet’ Has Best Comedy Series Debut at ABC

2023 also saw the release of a brand-new ABC comedy show from Gina Rodriguez, Not Dead Yet. Starring Rodriguez as Nell Serrano, the series follows her as she breaks up with her fiancé and returns to the workforce as an obituary writer, only to start seeing the ghosts of the people she writes about. Following the premiere of its first two episodes in February, the series quickly became one of ABC’s most successful comedy debuts, earning 7.6 million viewers, breaking the record held by Bless This Mess in 2019. It got even more views once it appeared on the streaming service Hulu, earning an additional 4 million viewers over the following week. The show is currently available to watch on ABC and Hulu, and a second season is already in development. Though the character’s Latinidad isn’t front and center, it’s a part of her story and seeing that on a mainstream series is powerful in and of itself.

Flamin’ Hot Offers Empowering Latino Representation

Directed by Eva Longora, Flamin’ Hot was one of the biggest Latinx movies to come out this year, telling the true-life story of Richard Montañez, considered the inventor of the famous Hot Cheetos snack. Starring Latinx talent both in front of and behind the camera including Jesse Garcia and Annie Gonzalez, the film was a feel-good moment for the community. It did a fantastic job of uplifting cholo culture and showing the power of Latinas and the Latinx community as a whole. And on top of that, we were able celebrate the accomplishments of a former janitor turned entrepreneur who continues to inspire people today with his story.

Gloria Estefan Became First Latina Inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame 

Gloria Estefan has been making history throughout her decades-long music career including releasing major hit singles like “The Rhythm is Gonna Get You” and “Conga,” as well as winning three Grammys becoming one of the most successful Latin artists of all time. This year, at the age of 65, the Cuban American singer became the first Latina in history to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Some of her writing credits include “Anything For You”, “Coming Out Of The Dark”, and “Conga,” all of which became gold records.

Bad Bunny and Pedro Pascal Bring Latinidad to Saturday Night Live

Bad Bunny and Pedro Pascal’s now iconic SNL skit featuring Pascal as the overprotective mother and Bad Bunny as the tia to SNL cast member Marcello Hernandez is undoubtedly one of the highlights of this year. SNL has been around for 49 seasons now but this level of representation has rarely been seen and it’s not just the actors, it’s the story line of a Latina mom that also featuring the infamous cookie tin as sewing container bit. Bad Bunny also performed “Un Preview” and “Monaco” and spoke Spanish during his monologue much like Pascal did at the start of the year.

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2023 Bad Bunny best of 2023 gina rodriguez gloria estefan Karol G Latinx achievements latinx news Latinx pop culture pop culture shakira
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