While we are 60 million strong in the U.S., those numbers don’t exactly translate to the big or small screen but progress is slowly but surely being made. In today’s entertainment industry, women of color are in control of their careers and scoring roles in major films. Oscar-nominated actress Salma Hayek is joining the Marvel Universe with her role in the upcoming Eternals while rising star Sasha Calle made history when she became the first Latina to play Supergirl in the DC Universe. We wanted to shine a spotlight on the Latinas who’ve taken on major roles in films that are either out already or upcoming so you can tune in and support Latina power on screen.
In The Heights starring Leslie Grace and Melissa Barrera
It’s the film spectacle we’ve all been waiting for — the film adaptation of the beloved musical In The Heights starring Melissa Barrera (Vida), Leslie Grace, Anthony Ramos, and Jimmy Smits. It’s a celebration of Latin culture with an all-star Latinx cast from the creative mind of Lin-Manuel Miranda who wrote the music and playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes. Leslie Grace plays Nina, a student at Stanford struggling with being in a predominantly white environment after growing up in Washington Heights where Dominicans and Puerto Ricans make up a majority of her community. She eventually finds a way to bring her community with her and finds purpose in discovering how she can give back while still pursuing her degree.
“She finds her purpose in going back and taking her community with her even though she’s leaving her block and I think that’s beautiful. We need to hear those stories,” Grace told HipLatina about first gen who “feels at a crossroads with that sense of ownership.”
Eternals with Salma Hayek
Eternals tells a story about an immortal alien race created by the Celestials who have secretly lived on Earth for over 7,000 years and protect humanity from the evil Deviants. The ever-so-talented Salma Hayek leads the film’s cast. “It’s kind of hard to be an action hero if you’re Mexican. It’s really hard to be an action hero if you’re a Mexican and a woman. But to be an action hero, being Mexican, a woman, and my age, it felt like they were punking me,” Hayek told Variety.
Encanto with Stephanie Beatriz
Encanto is a Disney movie that tells a story about an extraordinary family, the Madrigals, who live in the hidden mountains of Colombia. Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Stephanie Beatriz is the voice of the character and narrator, Maribel Madrigal, a 15-year-old girl described as a “lovable, funny, fallible, utterly human protagonist”. She uses her humor to cover up struggles with her self-worth. She is a true comedienne, akin to Lucille Ball, the DisInsider reported. Lin-Manuel Miranda is working on the music for the film, scheduled to be released on Nov. 24, 2021.
West Side Story with Rita Moreno and Rachel Zegler
West Side Story is a musical inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet featuring lovers Tony and Maria played by Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer in the 1961 film which is getting a makeover this year. One of the criticisms the original film received was that it didn’t feature Latinx actors besides Puerto Rican icon Rita Moreno — who won an Oscar for her role as Anita — despite the Sharks being a Puerto Rican gang. In the 2021 remake, Steven Spielberg found Rachel Zegler, who is part Colombian, to play the modern-day Maria.
Zegler told Vogue that the film serves as “a beautiful display of Latin joy and the way that young Latin girls deserve to see themselves—dancing around in pretty dresses and singing about loving themselves. It’s something that’s mattered so much to me, being Latina—singing ‘I Feel Pretty’ and meaning it.”Moreno, 89, is also a part of the remake playing Valentina, a new part written for her.
Flamin’ Hot with Annie Gonzalez
Flamin’ Hot is inspired by the Richard Montañez, credited with being the inventor of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, going from a janitor at Frito-Lay to be an executive. Annie Gonzalez, from Gentefied, plays wife Judy in the film co-starring with Jesse Garcia as Montañez. We love Annie’s work as the passionate college student in Gentefied and we’re sure she’ll bring the same level of passion and intellect to this role.
For Rosa with Melinna Bobadilla
For Rosa is a short film that was inspired by the Madrigal Ten, a group of Mexican-American women who were sterilized, many during the birthing process, in the 1970’s in Los Angeles, California without their consent or through coercion. Melinna Bobadilla plays a fictional character named Eva who is faced with the life-altering decision to join Jessica, played by Idalia Valles, and nine other women in a lawsuit against the hospital that sterilized her. This film, directed by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone, was released on HBO Max and is a powerful and heartbreaking portrayal of such an important but rarely talked about true life story.
The Horror of Dolores Roach with Justina Machado
Justina Machado (One Day at a Time) stars in the Amazon pilot, The Horror of Dolores Roach, a story about Dolores Roach being released from prison with $200 and the clothes on her back. She comes back to a severely-gentrified Washington Heights and no family or friends and her boyfriend missing. She finds a home in an abandoned storefront, Empanada Loca, as the only reminder of her former home. Machado posted on Instagram announcing the film, “I cannot wait !!! I’m so damn excited !!!! Wepa!!!!” and we are excited to see her take on a more serious role.
The Flash with Sasha Calle
Sasha Calle scored the lead role in the film The Flash and became the first ever Latina actress for the role of Supergirl in the DC Universe. Supergirl is Kara Danvers (born Kara Zor-El), Superman’s cousin from the planet Krypton and is considered the “Last Daughter of Krypton”. Argentine filmmaker Andrés “Andy” Muschietti is directing the film and said he auditioned more than 400 girls for the role but, he told Deadline, that Calle is “destined” to play the role.
Father of the Bride with Gloria Estefan
Gloria Estefan is joining Andy Garcia in the Latinx remake of Father of the Bride as the matriarch of the Cuban family at the center of the film. “A resounding YES was my answer to the invitation to join my good friend, the incredibly talented Andy Garcia, for this new and wonderfully warm and funny incarnation of the classic, Father of the Bride!” We are so excited to see the remake of a beloved film which was originally released in 1950 and later remade with Steve Martin in the lead role in the 1991 Nancy Meyers remake. While Estefan, who is a mother of two, hasn’t taken on many TV/film roles, we loved her as Mirtha, the feisty sister of Rita Moreno in One Day at a Time so we imagine she’ll bring the same energy to this role.