The Rise of the Latinx TV Star in 2018: 13 Shows That Helped Make It Happen

By
latinx-tv-2018-in-review-frame-1280.jpg
The CW / FX / Starz

2018 was a great year for TV. While an influx of dynamic, interesting and complex stories drove movie stars to the small screen, it also opened new doors in the realm of representation, providing Latinx actors a space to truly shine. 

Shows like Jane the Virgin and Superstore have offered a platform to stars like Gina Rodriguez and America Ferrera over the last few years, but 2018 in particular has seen the scope of Latinx stars rise exponentially, thanks to smart casting in reboots like Charmed and Magnum P.I., original series like Vida and Mayans MC, and a few surprises in the reality TV world. 

Here are the Latinx TV stars we can't wait to see more of.  

Charmed: Melonie Diaz 

cmd108a_0155b-2-2.jpg
The CW

Though original Charmed fans were wary of the new CW reboot, which replaced the Haliwells with the multi-ethnic Vera siblings, the show's undeniable standout, Diaz, told ET that she was proud of the show's "strong representation." 

"I think we just wanted our show to really reflect current times and the current environment," she added, revealing that she helped model her character's Puerto Rican roots after her own. "We wanted to create a world where it felt inclusive, where there was something for everyone.”

Vida: Melissa Barrera & Mishel Prada

vida-tv-show
Starz

The Starz series proved to be the ultimate gamechanger when it premiered in May, starring Barrera and Prada as Lyn and Emma Hernandez, estranged sisters from East Los Angeles who return to their old neighborhood -- and the secrets that come with it. 

The actresses command attention on screen, amplified by showrunner Tanya Saracho's desire to tell a "simple" story surrounded by a world viewers don't often get to see on TV. "[Vida] is a love letter to brown queerness that we don't often see on television," she told ET. "And, it’s also a love letter to brown females with agency, who are coming to terms with their power and trying to figure that out."  

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story: Édgar Ramírez & Ricky Martin

img_gianni_versace_3_1_8ld4fsbt_l366433108-1200x899-2.jpg
FX

Though best known for his music career, Martin showed off his acting chops as Gianni Versace's lover, Antonio D'Amico, on the critically-acclaimed FX series -- which took home Outstanding Limited Series at the 2018 Emmy Awards. And if his onscreen performance wasn't enough, Ramirez told ET that he might not have been able play Versace if it wasn't for Martin. 

As the Venezuelan actor told ET, he was "scared and nervous" to embody Versace with the help of prostethics, but asked Martin if he could meet up to look it over. "I entered the room [in full wardrobe and makeup] and I said, ‘Hi.’ Ricky saw me and started crying. And, I thought, ‘OK, we’re good,’” he recalled. “Ricky said, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe it. It’s like I’m seeing Gianni.’ It had a very calming effect on me."

Magnum P.I.: Jay Hernandez

Hernandez never thought he'd be stepping in Tom Selleck's shoes to play Thomas Magnum in CBS' Magnum P.I. reboot -- and neither did his mom! "She almost fell out of her seat [when I shared the news], and you know what she said? She said, ‘Who's going to be Magnum?’” the actor joked during ET's recent visit to the Hawaiian set. 

The show is just as action-packed as you'd expect, and Hernandez couldn't be more charming, bringing us the Magnum we know and love -- with a little extra flavor. 

One Day at a Time: Isabella Gomez

odaat_208_unit_00592r-2.jpg
Netflix

The 20-year-old Colombian actress can clearly hold her own in Netflix's One Day at a Time, starring alongside Justina Machado and Rita Moreno. The show tackled serious issues when it premiered in 2017, including Gomez's character, Elena, coming out to her parents. It was an emotional storyline for Gomez, who has continued to impress in this year's second season. 

"It's about a family, and the final analysis," Moreno told ET of why the show's focus on a Hispanic family has resonated with viewers across the board. "Family is family, whether you're black, whether you're [Asian], whether you are whatever -- it's a family, and if you live in America, you're going to run into similar problems."

NCIS: Wilmer Valderrama

113611_0699b-2.jpg
CBS

The actor wasn't afraid to shake things up on NCIS when he joined the longrunning CBS series as Special Agent Nick Torres in season 14, and he continues to be one of our favorite additions to the team. 

"For a minority character to come in and lead like this, [it's] just a great example of [CBS'] commitment to diversity, and that’s awesome," Valderrama told ET in 2017. "I'm excited, because I get to represent my heritage and my culture in a hero, in a character that really is an example to his community and one that is doing the right thing. I love that, because we rarely get to be portrayed that way on mainstream TV." 

Westworld: Rodrigo Santoro

Thandie Newton's Maeve isn't the only one entranced by the charm that is Santoro. The Brazilian actor is undeniably alluring as host Hector Escaton on the HBO sci-fi series, which aired its sophomore season this year. The season saw Maeve and Hector put to the test as they traveled through not just Westworld, but Shogun World as well, providing an opportunity to really showcase Santoro's acting abilities. 

"The hosts begin a journey of self-discovery and sort of like, an existential crisis, if you will, where they're searching for their own identities. And now they're free from the narratives that were created for them," he teased to ET of Hector's arc before the season kicked off. It's unknown whether Santoro will be back for Westworld's third season, but we've got our fingers crossed that Hector makes a comeback. 

Riverdale: Mark Consuelos & Camila Mendes

rvd220b_0249bc-2.jpg
The CW

We can't get enough of this on-screen dad and daughter duo, who have totally upped the ante as Hiram and Veronica Lodge in season three of the CW series. On the show, Consuelos and Mendes provide some of the series' most biting moments, but off-screen, it seems the actress is on board with becoming his real-life daughter. 

"They’re in the process of adopting me," Mendes previously joked to ET of Conseulos and his wife, Kelly Ripa. "Mark is like my actual dad... he’s like, very protective. As if I have to get his seal of approval [on guys]."

As for how we'll see Veronica and Hiram battle it out this season, the actress teased that the pair "are going to be butting heads." She promised, "I can tell you that there will be more clear villains and heroes."

House of Flowers / Casa de las Flores: Cecilia Suárez

lcdlf_102_unit_00865r-2.jpg
Netflix

The Spanish-language Netflix series became a certified hit after it premiered in August. Less than a month later, the streaming service had already renewed it for two additional seasons, which means we'll be seeing a lot more of Suárez as Paulina de la Mora. 

The 47-year-old Mexican actress couldn't be more brilliant in the series, even creating an accent to better fit family successor Paulina's character. House of Flowers creator Manolo Caro loved it so much that he had the first couple of episodes re-dubbed, and the rest is history. 

The Purge: Gabriel Chavarria

the purge
USA

Chavarria takes center stage as US Marine Miguel Guerrero in the new USA series, inspired by the horror franchise of the same name -- and we're so glad he does. Since making his feature film debut in 2007's Freedom Writers, the 29-year-old actor has impressed in project after project, and with The Purge recently being picked up for a second season, we can't wait to see more of Chavarria on our TV screens. 

"Representation is important, because I feel Hollywood has gotten a good sense of the Hispanic audience, the American Hispanic audience, that has kind of been underserved. But now things are changing, and it's great. There are so many different projects and shows and films that showcase the talent that's out there," he told ET in September. "It's definitely being explored now and we're here to stay."

Narcos: Mexico: Diego Luna & Michael Peña

Fans were concerned how the story would move forward after Narcos left Colombia and headed to Mexico for its newest installment, but with Luna and Pena leading the show, it couldn't be more compelling. Only Luna could make drug lord Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo equally charming and cold-blooded, while Peña's performance as DEA agent Kiki Camarena couldn't have more heart. 

"This is the beginning of the war we’re living today. Today in Mexico, violence is crazy. And it’s not our violence. It’s not the violence of Mexico. This violence belongs to the whole world, because this is a global issue we have," Luna recently told ET of the show's relevance. "I think it’s important for people to see where their drugs come from."

Mayans MC: J.D. Pardo, Carla Baratta, Emilio Rivera & Edward James Olmos

mayans_mc.jpg
FX

The highly-anticipated Sons of Anarchy spinoff proved it could stand on its own two legs as soon as its first episode premiered on FX in September, thanks, in part, to its incredible cast. Pardo, Baratta, Rivera and Olmos are just a few of the actors bringing their A-game to the series as they breathe life into complicated yet relatable characters in the world of motorcycle clubs and cartels. 

“I think it’s so beautiful, and I’m so grateful with the creators (Kurt Sutter and Elgin James) because they don’t want to pretend to do a Latino show, they are actually doing a Latino show,” Baratta told ET. “Latino directors. Latino writers. And they are given the opportunity and the respect that we all deserve.”

Made in Mexico: The Entire Cast

The list wouldn't be complete without a nod to the always-entertaining cast of Made in Mexico (special shout-out to Kitzia Mitre, Robby Checa, Columba Diaz, Chantal Trujillo and Pepe Diaz), who turned a reality show about Mexico City's upper class into an opportunity to have real conversations about racism, immigration, love and more. "I think [the show] is giving the real view of Mexico, with Mexicans," Diaz told ET of the series in September. "Sometimes people don't really know how Mexico is, or what Mexicans are really like." 

"It has a lot of heart, and people in the show, we just give it everything," Checa added. "For me, the most important part is someone else watching it could identify [with] my journey."

RELATED CONTENT: 

Cast of Netflix's 'Made in Mexico' Says Show Will Break Down Stereotypes (Exclusive)

'Vida', 'Mayans MC' and 'Charmed' Reboot Lead Hispanic Takeover of Mainstream Television

'Vida' Is Tanya Saracho's Love Letter to 'Brown Queerness' and Latinx Community (Exclusive)