Latinas in Hollywood through the years have made us feel seen and understood through their work on TV and film. But rarely do we get to know them as real people just like us outside of interviews, where they can be their authentic selves. From the iconic Puerto Rican actress Rita Moreno to rising stars like Diane Guerrero, we’ve gotten to know more about the real person behind the celebrity through their memoir and autobiographies. These books are their stories in their own words providing a glimpse at the personal lives of such public figures. This is by no means an exhaustive list but is a good starting place for adding more Latina-authored memoirs to your bookshelves. Read on to learn more about 14 inspiring Latina celebrity memoirs you should read.
In The Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero
In the Country We Love is a memoir by Colombian American actress Diane Guerrero, who has appeared in television hits like Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin. In an age when the lives of over 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. are constantly at risk, Guerrero shared her own story with author Michelle Burford, depicting the experience of her parents and older brother being deported when she was just 14 years old. Because she was born in the U.S., she stayed with the help of family friends. Touching on topics including family separation and the unjust immigration system, she uses personal anecdotes to write a story of resilience and triumph.
My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor
In My Beloved World by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, she details her life before and after she changed the culture of the U.S. forever when she became the first Latina and third woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court. From living with an alcoholic father in a Bronx housing project to losing him when she turned nine years old, seeking refuge with her grandmother to being diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, she shares how she learned to thrive and be self-reliant. She graduates with the highest honors at Princeton and Yale Law School and later make waves at the New York County District Attorney’s office, the Federal District Court, and her own private practice all before the age of 40. We also see her failures including her marriage, and how she survived with the help of mentors and chosen family on her way to make history and realize her dreams.
Handbook for an Unpredictable Life: How I Survived Sister Renata and My Crazy Mother, and Still Came Out Smiling (with Great Hair) by Rosie Perez
Handbook for an Unpredictable Life by Puerto Rican actress Rosie Perez is a memoir about her life before making it big on projects like Fearless and Birds of Prey. She writes about how she survived a difficult, often unpredictable childhood at the hands of her abusive and mentally ill mother who placed her in a Catholic children’s home in Westchester County, New York. But all through her mother’s incarceration, abuse at the hands of the nuns, and constant shuttling to various foster and groups homes, she weaves an inspirational story of success, determination, strength, finding peace, and beating the odds from her native Brooklyn to the sets of LA and New York City.
Rita Moreno: A Memoir by Rita Moreno
Rita Moreno by the award-winning Puerto Rican actress Rita Moreno is a moving look at the life of one of the most famous Latinas in film and one of the illustrious few to have earned EGOT (an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony). Born Rosita Dolores Alverio, Rita recounts how she immigrated with her mother from Puerto Rico to the Bronx when she was around six years old. She discovered the power of performing through singing and dancing, and made her Broadway debut when she was 13 years old. For the first time, she opens up about what it was like to navigate fame as a Latina who was only given typecast roles at the start of her career and working with white men in power, including her relationships with Elvis Presley and Marlon Brando. But she also touches on topics like marriage and motherhood and how, despite the struggles, she’s achieved massive and long-term success.
Celia: My Life: An Autobiography by Celia Cruz
“How did a little black girl from Santos Suárez [a poor, working-class Havana neighborhood] come so far?” iconic Cuban singer asks in her autobiography, Celia: My Life. “Only God knows why I’ve been so fortunate.” The book, released a year after her death in 2003, is based on more than 500 hours of taped interviews recorded just months before her death. It includes never-before-published personal photos and anecdotes giving readers a glimpse into the personal life of a global superstar.
Raquel: Beyond the Cleavage by Raquel Welch
Raquel by Bolivian American actress and model Raquel Welch documents her life before she became a Hollywood icon and sex symbol. She sheds light on her childhood growing up with a Bolivian father and later marrying her high school sweetheart to then become a single mother of two. She also offers valuable life lessons she’s learned including aging in Hollywood, going through menopause, and empty nest syndrome. She also shares her skincare regimen, eating and workout tips, and what advice she has for women over 50.
My Sister: How One Sibling’s Transition Changed Us Both by Selenis Leyva and Marizol Leyva
My Sister by Cuban and Dominican American actress Selenis Levya (Orange Is the New Black and Diary of a Future President) and her sister Marizol Leyva is a moving memoir that chronicles their childhood growing up in the Bronx. When Marizol was adopted as a foster child, it became clear that she was struggling with her gender identity but lacked the language to share with her family or the knowledge to understand what was happening. Told in alternating chapters between the sisters, they both touch on still-critical issues of violence, abuse, discrimination, and hardship that trans people, women of color, and trans women of color face every day. Ultimately, however, their story is one of hope, authenticity, affirmation, and celebration, and will undoubtedly inspire anyone going through similar circumstances, presenting a light in the dark to carry them through.
The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey
The Meaning of Mariah Carey by beloved singer Mariah Carey, who is of Afro-Venezuelan descent, is an unprecedented look into the icon’s life. It spans her early days growing up in Huntington, New York in a community torn apart by racial tensions, to her vocal training under her mother who was a former opera singer and vocal coach, to her rise to superstardom. Touching on themes of race, identity, class, family, and artistry, she lets readers in on the struggles and triumphs behind the songs we now know and love, offering a story of hope, understanding, and resilience.
True Love by Jennifer Lopez
True Love by Puerto Rican singer, dancer, and actress Jennifer Lopez covers two years of the icon’s life as she struggles to reconcile her identities as an artist and mother. Depicting her challenges, she shows how she ultimately made it to the other side stronger and better than ever. Accompanied by more than 200 exclusive and stunning candid photographs of herself, family, and friends, this is not only a behind-the-scenes look into her life and work, but also a diary full of lessons, anecdotes, never-before-old stories, and empowering meditations on strength and resilience.
My Voice: A Memoir by Angie Martinez
My Voice by radio host Angie Martinez, who is of Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Dominican descent, documents her rise to fame as an internationally known hip-hop radio interviewer. Starting from her childhood in Washington Heights and Brooklyn, she recounts how she got her first big break when she was 16 years old, working her way from an intern to a high-profile host at Hot 97, a hip hop radio station in New York. She’s known for her intimate, sometimes controversial interviews, with artists including Jay Z, Tupac Shakur, Barack Obama, Mary J. Blige, and Christ Brown. Now known as the “Voice of New York” by the Latinx and hip hop communities, she blends her personal life with her professional one to paint a new picture of urban radio, hip-hop, and fame.
Who Do I Think I Am?: Stories of Chola Wishes and Caviar Dreams by Anjelah Johnson-Reyes
Who Do I Think I Am? by Mexican American stand-up comedian and actress Anjelah Johnson-Reyes is a hilarious memoir about her coming-of-age journey and rise to fame. She became known for her viral sketch “Nail Salon”, which has since accrued over 100 million views on Youtube, and her MadTV character Bon Qui Qui. She writes about navigating two cultures, disasters in dating, Christianity, becoming an Oakland Raiders cheerleader, and later traveling the world as a comedian. Discussing topics of race, identity, ambition, faith, and belonging, Johnson-Reyes presents a fun, ever-evolving example of what it looks like to dream big and embrace your authentic self.
I Am These Truths: A Memoir of Identity, Justice, and Living Between Worlds by Sunny Hostin
I Am These Truths by journalist and The View co-host Sunny Hostin is a moving chronicle of her life and the success she’s been able to achieve despite the barriers she faced. She begins with her life growing up in a South Bronx housing project as the daughter of Puerto Rican and African American parents, later showing how she escaped poverty by winning academic scholarships to college and law school. She would go on to work in the criminal justice system as a federal prosecutor and assistant U.S. attorney, only to switch careers to become a legal journalist, becoming one of the first to report on the death of Trayvon Martin. In addition to her professional life as a reporter for CNN, Fox News, and ABC, she also shares her struggles with infertility, identity, intolerance, injustice, and loss. In the end, she offers an inspirational story of power and survival, and what it takes to fight for what you want.
Unbreakable: My Story, My Way by Jenni Rivera
Unbreakable by the late Mexican American singer Jenni Rivera is the extraordinary story of how a little girl from Long Beach became one of the most renowned ranchera singers. The icon sold more than 15 million records before her untimely death in a plane crash in 2012. She was also a successful actress, producer, entrepreneur, and reality show star but that didn’t stop her from opening up about her personal struggles including abuse, divorce, body image issues, navigating a male-dominated industry, and being a single mother of five children. She emphasizes that she was only able to make it because of her own instincts, humor, determination, and dependence on herself, inspiring generations of her fans to do the same.
Unstoppable by Chiquis Rivera
Unstoppable is a memoir by Jenni Rivera’s daughter Chiquis Rivera, a successful star in her own right as an award-winning banda singer, songwriter, and TV personality, that documents her life after her mother’s death. With warmth, humor, and vulnerability, she shares her struggles of balancing life as a caretaker to her brother and sister with her dreams of becoming a singer like her mother. From carving a life and identity for herself as a person and a singer outside her mother’s shadow to falling in love and marrying a man she soon realizes is not the man of her dreams, she is as open about her mistakes as she is with her successes. Packed with life lessons, revelations, and never-before-told stories, readers will learn what makes Chiquis “unstoppable” and how they can be the same. If you want even more tales of the Rivera family, be sure to check out her first memoir Forgiveness.