Positive media role models have a huge influence on kids – especially those who don’t often see themselves represented positively in the media. But as more Latinos receive global acclaim for their accomplishments in media and tech, they chip away at stereotypes and offer kids of all backgrounds achievements to look up to and emulate. These influential Latino figures – including award-winning actors, directors, writers, and entrepreneurs – are making an impact on their respective industries as they change perceptions of cultural identity.
Alfonso Cuarón: A prolific director, producer, and screenwriter, Cuarón was the first Mexican director to win an Oscar. His work includes critically acclaimed movies, such as Gravity and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Salma Hayek: Hayek began her career in Mexico starring in soap operas. Then she moved to Los Angeles and studied acting — and the rest is history. Among her family-oriented films, Hayek has worked on The Pirates! Band of Misfits and Puss in Boots.
Isabel Allende: Allende is an internationally acclaimed writer who started her career as a journalist and TV personality in Chile. She has written more than 20 books, including the historical political novel The House of the Spirits. Allende writes in Spanish even though she has lived in California for almost three decades. She founded the Isabel Allende Foundation in honor of her daughter Paula, to help advance women’s issues.
Luis von Ahn: A scientist, professor, and entrepreneur, von Ahn was born and raised in Guatemala. He cofounded Duolingo, a game-based language-learning website and app that has transformed the way kids can learn new languages.
Alejandro González Iñarritu: Known for the acclaimed movie Babel, this well-regarded director, producer, and writer became the second Mexican director to win the Best Picture Oscar, for his movie Birdman.
Guillermo del Toro: A versatile artist, del Toro has enjoyed a successful career as a Hollywood director, producer, and screenwriter. Famous for his offbeat sensibility, he also has produced kids’ movies such as Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots.
Julia Alvarez: Born in New York City, Alvarez moved to the Dominican Republic with her Dominican parents when she was three months old. She is the author of many books, including novels, nonfiction, and poetry. In books such as Return to Sender and Before We Were Free, she explores complex issues such as illegal immigration and living under a dictatorship.
Diego Luna: Considered one of the best Mexican actors, Luna has appeared in films, on stage, and in TV soap operas. Among his many creative endeavors, he voiced a lead character in the animated movie The Book of Life, which earned a Common Sense Seal for its family appeal.