8 Latinas Inspiring New Generations: Eva Longoria, America Ferrera, Jennifer Lopez & More
By Liz Calvario
Now more than ever, women in entertainment are using their voices to not only raise awareness for a cause, but also to inspire others.
Sunday marks International Women's Day, a day celebrating and recognizing women's rights. Latinas in Hollywood are a fiercely independent and hard-working group, who constantly ban together to spread messages of positivity, empowerment and equal rights. Topics such as better pay, politics, LGBTQ representation and self-acceptance, are what stars such as America Ferrera, Rosario Dawson, Jennifer Lopez and more are advocating for.
While it's easy to enjoy the glitz and glamour that Hollywood offers, these Latinas are going the extra step and sharing their -- and other people's -- stories, hoping that change comes sooner than later.
ET is celebrating the amazing women in entertainment. Here are eight Latinas who are inspiring a new generation in their own special way.
The Superstore star has been a strong supporter of Time's Up, Voto Latino, the Phenomenal Woman Campaign and also helped push forward more Latinx content in the industry. For Ferrera, it's all about working together with her fellow Latinas.
"It's so wonderful to be able to feel the support of your colleagues, and to know that there is room and space for all of us," she told ET during the How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World press tour in Los Angeles in February 2019. "As a woman and as a woman of color, it is easy to fall in the trap that there's only one piece of the pie because that is what's communicated over and over again."
"I think what's happened so beautifully in communities of color recently, and especially in this industry, is us denying that falsehood, saying, 'You're not my competition. There should be room for all of us, and let's make the pie bigger,'" she continued. "So, if someone else is succeeding, I've got nothing but love and support and excitement that they're breaking down the doors that are in front of them and making room for more and more peoples' experiences to be represented and seen and heard."
Since co-founding Voto Latino in 2004, the actress and activist has been determined to give those whose voices aren't heard a stronger and louder platform. During last year's midterm elections, Dawson worked alongside Ferrera, Eva Longoria, Zoe Saldana and Gina Rodriguez to encourage Latinos to vote.
“We do not see enough women together. We don’t see enough women from different backgrounds together, and even in the Latino community, we don’t see people coming across from the different islands and countries,” Dawson expressed to ET in a December 2018 phone interview. “We wanted to be able to represent that and we came out as All Americans representing Honduras, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Cuba, and we didn’t even plan it that way. It was just us texting each other seeing who could roll through. We just felt like we wanted to do a final show. It shows you that when you’re really passionate and interested, you really want to make an impact and a difference, you’ll find the community and the people to make that happen.”
She's not only looking out for Latinos and their rights, she's also inspiring people who have dealt with loss to be open about their feelings and be more grateful.
“When my cousin [Vaneza] died at 26, it really put a lot in perspective,” she divulged. “My grandma died just before her 76th birthday… It’s so interesting how quickly your perspective can change. I wasn’t expecting to get so dark after my grandmother passed, but I’m so grateful that out of such tragedy with Vaneza I could just reconnect with my family and my friends, and myself, in a way that even in my toughest, most challenging days just gets me out there feeling motivated, grateful and excited. That no matter what, I have a chance at something."
In 2016, the Jane the Virgin star created #MovementMonday to bring awareness to the Latinx acting community. Each week, she spotlights a member/s of the Latino community who have made major impacts in their fields.
"It's me doing it to uplift and highlight and empower other Latinos," she first told ET when she created it three years ago. "To send the message that there's a lot of wonderful and positive things going on in our community -- that's what we should focus on."
These days, Rodriguez continues to celebrate people of color, work with Voto Latino, Time's Up and more organizations that empower and help others. On screen, she prides herself on sharing Latinx stories and representing her culture.
"Representation is clearly extremely important. There were 1700 kids at Carmen Sandiego Day, and that's all they kept repeating to me, how they wanted to see themselves and see their country represented," Rodriguez, who voices Carmen Sandiego in the Netflix animated series, told ET over the phone in January 2019. "They all came with their flags and it was insane to see how much pride it brought them when I said their country's name. Like, you see it in the youth. They're aware, they feel it, they want to see themselves reflected."
"As a Latina, seeing that brown skin on animation is revolutionary. When I saw it in the trailer, I started crying," she continued. "That's not common. It should be. We give ourselves allowance when we see that. And for women, we've had an incredible year of so many strong, fantastic, brilliant women standing up and saying, like, 'Hey guys, not cool anymore.' So it's wonderful to have a character like Carmen, 'cause repetition is needed. We don't need to see one... we need to see a thousand, a million. Because it's necessary to show time and time again the normalization. That we are all valued, we are all worthy, every community, every culture, every religion."
When it comes to empowering females who are major #goals, J.Lo is surely on that list! The multi-hyphenate is passionate, fierce, independent and goes for what she is after. Countless times Lopez has spoken out about how she was told "no," and that she would never make it in Hollywood, only to time and time again prove everyone wrong.
"I think I was pretty fearless. I think when you're younger, you are. Like, ignorance is bliss," Lopez told ET last year about the upside of being young and hungry for success. "You have no idea [to think] like, 'I can fall on my face and it's gonna scar me for 10 years.' You know none of these things."
For Lopez, the event -- which will feature performances from Lopez, Marc Anthony, Camila Cabello, Demi Lovato, Maroon 5, Ricky Martin and more to raise funds for Feeding America, Save the Children, Habitat for Humanity, Unidos for Puerto Rico, United Way and UNICEF -- was creating some positivity in the world.
"I did it because I wanted to for Puerto Rico but then it does something for me in reminding me we live with a lot of amazing people. There's a lot more love out there than hate," she told ET ahead of the event.
Better representation for Latinos in Hollywood is something that Longoria works hard towards. She not only takes on roles that feature empowering and versatile Latinas, she also creates and produces Latinx-focused shows and movies that feature people of color and women in front and behind the cameras. She also has her Eva Longoria Foundation, which aims to unlock the full potential of Latinas all over the world.
"For me and the foundation, we celebrate Latinas," Longoria, who was accompanied by Zoe Saldana, told ET at her gala in November 2018. "Young Latina’s can’t be what they can’t see, and so to be able to see somebody like Zoe is so important to me because this night’s more about what my foundation does. It’s about celebrating what everybody’s doing in our community and putting a big, loud spotlight on it, a big loud voice, because there’s so much overlapping with what we’re doing."
"It’s important to connect the dots and it’s important for us to have this sisterhood and uplift each other and applaud each other," she added.
It's also Longoria's passion to advocate for the Latinx community that keeps her going.
"There was a study that was out that makes sense: Latinos are 18 percent of the population, but we're 23 percent of ticket buyers to movies, and we over index in TV, but we're underrepresented onscreen and behind the camera," she explained during ABC's Television Critics Association winter press tour last year. "I want to create those stories for our community, because we can't be what we can't see, and if all you see on the news in the media is negative depictions of us, you have to counter balance that with our storytelling and our perspective."
"For me, I think when people see Latinos in television and media, it not only teaches others about minority communities, but it teaches us what we think of ourselves, and that's what I want to change," she expressed. "We have to think of ourselves as more, and I want to show that on TV."
The Alita: Battle Angel actress is on a mission to break Latina stereotypes in Hollywood. She prides herself in selecting roles that are out of the box and not necessarily portraying a Latin American woman.
"[In Alita], I got to portray a character where I didn't necessarily have to be anything related to a Latina," she told ET in December 2018, adding, "That's what I also want to do, is branch out and kind of show and broadcast that Latina women are everything. I can be the typical Adelita [in Marwen], just a very typical Mexican woman. But I can also be a cyborg and I can also be a worldly woman."
"You'll Google some actresses and it says 'actress,'" Gonzalez explained. "But if you Google me it's 'Mexican actress,' and that's the stereotype that I want to break. As an actress, that's my agenda. If that means taking smaller roles that's going to help get to that place and be seen in a different light [so be it]. [I want people to say], 'Oh, she went and did this but then went and did that.' That, to me, is the ideal."
There's no doubt that Gonzalez will achieve that and so much more, already starring in a variety of different roles that fans will get to see in the coming year.
The actress couldn't be more proud to play Rosa Diaz on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. The role isn't just fun, it's also a chance for Beatriz to represent the LGBTQ community onscreen.
"I would say that most of that credit really goes to Dan Goor, the show's creator, and the writers who really adamantly feel like our show should reflect what the world and the United States looks like and is, which includes people that are in the LGBTQ community," Beatriz told ET in last year.
The comedy was recently nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comedy Series, as a result, in part, of Rosa's storyline as a bisexual woman. While there had been hints about Diaz's sexuality since the beginning of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the character didn't come out as bisexual until the show's fifth season in 2017, after Beatriz herself came out as bisexual on Twitter the year before.
"I think it's so wonderful that they chose to explore that storyline with my character," the actress expressed. "I'm really, really proud to be a part of that, and I'm so honored that GLAAD continues to shine a light on all this incredible work that's happening across our industry and many others. It's really, really, really amazing of them."
Also representing the LGBTQ community on screen is the One Day at a Time actress. Her character, Elena, came out as a lesbian in season one of the Netflix comedy.
"[I take it] so seriously that it's a little overwhelming, especially because I'm an ally and I'm not actually a person who is living through all of this," Gomez told ET at the season three premiere. "It's a little scary, because I haven't lived it personally, and I want to make sure I'm representing it accurately. So, I've just tried to be the best ally I can be, and to try to listen a lot, and make sure I'm getting all kinds of perspectives."
"But [playing this character is] very important, because I also understand what it means in the sense of, I haven't seen Latinx representation, and I know how great it feels to see that. So to know that I am that for another community, it's rough, but it's awesome," she added.
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