It’s almost the end of 2022 — what a year it’s been for the Latinx community, especially in pop culture! We were disappointed to see so many Latinx-led shows being canceled this year, some even after only one season like Gordita Chronicles, and that so much of our community is still struggling to be taken seriously in the mainstream. But there have also been a lot of wins and positive visibility for us. So we want to take the time to celebrate those accomplishments, milestones, and historic moments that lifted us up this year, from seeing unprecedented Indigenous Latinx representation in Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever to Latinxs dominating this year’s award season like Afro-Latina Ariana Debose. We could not be prouder of our comunidad! Read on to learn more about 18 of the best Latinx pop culture moments in 2022.
Jennifer Lopez Releases Her Halftime Netflix Documentary
Jennifer Lopez was an unstoppable force this year in entertainment and a reminder that age is truly nothing but a number. One of the shining moments of her year was the premiere of her Netflix documentary Halftime. Throughout the film, we saw her at the top of her game as she prepared and rehearsed for her and Shakira’s headline performance at the Superbowl in 2019, which is still the most-watched halftime show on Youtube. We also got a glimpse into her grueling daily life of rehearsals, interviews, and even physical training for her then-unreleased hit film Hustlers. Plus we got a glimpse of her dynamic within her own family and her complicated relationship with her mom which made her that more more relatable. The documentary was not only a milestone for JLo, but also a moment for the community to appreciate how much she’s impacted the Latinx community and opened the doors for other Latinx entertainers since the 90s.
We got glimpses of an Afro-Latina Bat Girl
Superhero films have always been criticized for their obvious preference for white leads, even though the original comic books are incredibly diverse. This year, we got to see major changes for the community in DC movies like Batgirl, which featured Dominican American actress Leslie Grace (In the Heights) in the titular role. While the movie was eventually shelved by DC (meaning it will never be released in theaters or on streaming platforms), it was amazing to see press photos and behind-the-scenes looks of Grace in her iconic Batgirl costume as an example for other Latinas to see themselves saving the world.
Marvel Followed Suit With Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness wouldn’t be the same without America Chavez, played by Mexican American actress Xochitl Gomez! Her debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as an LGBTQIA+ Latinx superhero was a huge win for Latinx superhero fans. Not only does she speak Spanish in the film to reference her Puerto Rican roots, but it’s also canon that she has two mothers and (at least in the comics) identifies as a lesbian. As one of Marvel’s first queer Latina heroes, she’s established herself as an icon in the community and we’re excited to see her return to the MCU again in future projects.
Indigenous Mexican Representation in Wakanda Forever
Marvel ended the year on a strong note with the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, a sequel to the original 2018 film which featured unprecedented representation of Indigenous Mexicans. Thanks to appearances from Mexican actors Tenoch Huerta and Mabel Cadena and Indigenous Guatemalan actress María Mercedes Coroy, we saw Indigenous characters from the fictional underwater kingdom of Talokan given agency, community, and power outside of colonization. We can’t wait to see them return to the big screen again in a future Marvel project!
Bad Bunny Dominates the Music Scene (and Film)
And of course, who could forget Bad Bunny? Throughout 2022, he made a mark on Latinx and wider pop culture in a variety of industries and platforms. He broke streaming records and made history with the release of his newest studio album Un Verano Sin Ti, which was the first Spanish-language album in history to be Grammy nominated for Album of the Year. In film, he was cast as Marvel’s first Latino live-action superhero lead in the upcoming film El Muerto, which will be released in 2024. He also made his feature film debut on Bullet Train portraying The Wolf, a deadly assassin in a short but memorable role alongside Brad Pitt. He also made moves in education when San Diego State University announced that they would begin teaching a college course focused on Bad Bunny’s influence and impact on pop culture and music. And finally, Los Angeles formally announced that October 1st would be celebrated as Bad Bunny Day in the city for his contributions to the Latinx community. What a year!
Rachel Zegler is First Latina to Play Live-Action Snow White
We continued seeing Latinx talent make historic strides in the film industry like Colombian American actress Rachel Zegler, who achieved superstardom for her lead role as Maria in the 2021 film West Side Story. In the new year, she kept up the momentum by winning the role of Snow White in the upcoming Disney live-action remake of the original 1937 animated film. She will be the first Latina ever to play the role, marking a huge milestone for her career and the Latinx community, especially young girls dreaming of seeing themselves as a princess. The film is expected to come out in March 2024 and we couldn’t be more excited to see Zegler on the big screen again!
Father of the Bride is Most-Watched HBO Max Original Film
Father of the Bride is a classic film which tells the story of a patriarch’s daughter announcing her engagement to the family for the first time and upending everyone’s lives. It was originally released in 1950 and the story got a hilarious Latinx twist featuring beloved Cuban American icons Andy Garcia and Gloria Estafan in the leading roles. Upon its release in June, it quickly gained popularity and became the most-watched original film on HBO Max. It was a powerful moment not only for a Latinx-led film centered on a Cuban American family but for a remake of a classic to be embraced with Latinx storytelling.
Ariana DeBose Makes History at the Oscars
This year’s Academy Awards ceremony was a huge one for us, starting with Ariana DeBose, who is of Puerto Rican descent. This year, she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Anita in West Side Story, making her the first openly queer woman of color AND first Afro-Latina to win the award. She’s since gone on to receive a Golden Globe award and a Tony Award nomination for her work and already has a full slate of upcoming projects including voicing Asha in Disney’s upcoming film, Wish.
Encanto Also Won Big at the Academy Awards
Encanto starring Stephanie Beatriz with music from Lin-Manuel Miranda was a cultural reset for the community in 2021 for its exploration of generational trauma, identity, and loss in a Colombian family. This year, it was nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Original Score and Best Original Song. In the end, it took home Best Animated Feature (not to mention a Golden Globe), Germaine Franco made history as the first Latina to have been nominated for an Oscar for ‘Best Original Score’ for her work on the film.
Mj Rodriguez Made History at the Golden Globes
Mj Rodriguez, who is of Puerto Rican descent, finally got her flowers this year for her groundbreaking role as Blanca Evangelista in the critically-acclaimed FX show Pose. In January, she won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Television Drama, making her the first transgender actor in history to win the award. She accomplished a similar feat with her Emmy nomination, the first transgender woman to receive the honor. We can’t wait to see how she continues to shine and break new ground in the new year!
Alexa Demie Became the It Girl of Euphoria
HBO’s Euphoria released its second season at the beginning of the year and has become one of the most-watched series in the network’s history, not to mention a consistently viral social media sensation. But the real takeaway from season two (besides all the surprising twists and turns) was how Maddy Perez, played by Mexican American actress Alexa Demie, became this season’s breakout star and It Girl. Many of her iconic lines became memes, and her eye-catching make-up like sharp eyeliner, rhinestones, and glitter became an essential part of Gen-Z fashion in media and in real life. Not to mention her unique fashion sense that was even copied by another character on the show. We love seeing Latinas becoming trendsetters!
Ada Limón is First Chicana to be Named U.S. Poet Laureate
Poetry has a long, beautiful tradition in Latin America and we couldn’t have been prouder when Mexican American poet Ada Limón was named the 24th Poet Laureate of the United States. This made her the first Latina and Chicana to serve as U.S. Poet Laureate, a position that has historically been reserved for white men until this century. Throughout her year-long term, she will be tasked with promoting an appreciation for poetry throughout the country by hosting events, readings, and in general, making it more accessible to the public. We always love seeing Latinas in prestigious positions of leadership and continue to look forward to what her term holds.
Selena’s Estate Released Her First Posthumous Album
Selena,The Queen of Tejano music, remains an icon for the Latinx community and the rest of the world almost thirty years after her murder in 1995. This year, she made headlines again when her estate announced that it would be releasing her first posthumous album, Moonchild Mixes. The albums, produced by her brother, features cumbias and ballads from when she was young as 13 with her voice digitally altered to sound more adult.
Jenna Ortega Stuns as Wednesday Addams in Wednesday
The definite highlight of the year for Latinxs on TV was seeing Jenna Ortega, who is of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent, as Wednesday Addams in Netflix’s hit show Wednesday. While she was originally cast to honor the Latinx history of the franchise, her performance of the famously cold, emotionless, and morbidly funny teen was critically acclaimed and the show itself has broken several streaming records on the platform. The iconic dance she performs in the series also became a craze on social media, with thousands of creators and celebrities like Kim Kardashian recreating the dance on TikTok. In response to the success, future seasons have already been hinted at by the showrunners—fingers crossed!
The “Miguel” Episode of the Series This Is Us
The hit NBC show This Is Us released its sixth and final season in May but we’re all still reeling from the now-beloved “Miguel” episode. While he was a supporting character for the majority of the show, he finally got his own episode where his childhood and struggles to assimilate into mainstream American society as an Afro-Puerto Rican were highlighted. Viewers saw him Anglicize his name for interviews, struggle to fit in with his own family, and learn English—all familiar aspects of the immigrant experience (even though he’s from PR). It was that much more meaningful to see this story play out in a mainstream series allowing for new audiences to learn about this experience.