List of Latinos in film

Opportunities for Latino/Hispanic Americans (i.e. those people who are or have family ancestry from Mexico, Spain, or other Latin American, Spanish & Portuguese speaking countries) in the film industry, often mirrors the opportunities, and challenges, facing people of other racial or ethnic identities who work in the industry, behind or in front of the film camera. Historically, actors or actresses of Latino/Hispanic ancestry often found work within certain stereotypical roles, which often reflected broader social attitudes and cultural biases.

Latino men were frequently depicted as being highly aggressive and also with low levels of emotional maturity, i.e. criminals, low-life thugs or the highly passionate, even violent, love interest of the starring character. Latino women, Latinas, were similarly portrayed when it came to their sexuality, but where as Latino men could be in a position of authority, albeit within an anti-social, criminal setting, Latinas were oftentimes characters with much less authority, such as housemaids, domestic servants or even prostitutes.

Traditionally, even without the usage of these stereotypes, it was rare for a Latino or Latina character in a film to be the star, unless the film was primarily marketed to a Latino audience. Behind the camera, it is still difficult for a Latino film producer, director, screenwriter or cinematographer to have mainstream commercial success.

However, as the social attitudes and biases change, there has been a gradual improvement in film depictions as well as in career opportunities for Latinos Americans.


The negative stereotyping of Latinos in film relates to the history of Latinos. Mexican Americans were seen by Anglos as uneducated and lacking integrity and thus unworthy of the rights to citizenship. Early films portrayed these negative stereotypes of Mexicans and Mexican Americans, but as time went on these stereotypes expanded to Central and South Americans. In the late 1890s, few Latinos were involved in filmmaking or appeared as actors in films. The Latinos that did appear in films or produced films were from privileged backgrounds. At this time, the late 1890s, filmmaking consisted of silent films. Myrtle Gonzalez and Beatriz Michelena were among the few Latinos to create silent films. In the 1910s and 1920s, a few film production companies rose to dominate the industry, forcing the depletion of Latinos working in film production. It was not until the 1970s that Latinos reemerged in the field of film production.

Silent western films were the first films to feature Latino characters. The Latino characters often played the role of the rebellious "greaser" opposing the white hero. The term "greaser" is used to describe Mexican bandits and other lazy, untrustworthy Mexican characters. Tony the Greaser and The Greaser's Revenge were two movies that capitalized on this storyline. These films helped to start the trend of establishing Latino characters as "others" in contrast to whites. The Mexican government in the 1920s complained and boycotted Hollywood films. These boycotts and complaints led film producers to disassociate negative Latino characters from identification with any particular country. This led to pan-Latino representations which were still negative, just not associated with one particular country.

The mid-1920s led to a few opportunities for Latino actors and actresses. The popularity of the Italian actor Rudolph Valentino, the original "Latin Lover", created opportunities for Latino actors and actresses such as Ramón Novarro, Dolores del Río, Lupe Vélez, Carmen Miranda etc. These actors were cast as major roles as passionate Latin Lover types and became international stars in silent films. The Latin Lover image capitalized on notions that Latinos were innately passionate and sexual. The Latin Lover image still exists today along with Latinos being viewed as villains and servants.

Changing times

Just as the population of Latinos is rapidly rising in the United States in the 21st century, Latinos are also emerging (although not as quickly as the population) in media, including motion pictures, both in front of and behind the camera. Mainstream news media conglomerates are finally covering "Latinos in Film" news, and also offer ground-breaking coverage specifically aimed at spotlighting Latinos in film, such as The Huffington Post's Latino Entertainment page. News not only highlights Latino celebrities, but Latino filmmakers of both studio and independent movies. Additionally, a small handful of organizations have emerged in the 2000s that advocate for Latinos rights and opportunity in the field of entertainment in the United States, as well as raising awareness of these rising talents, including the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP), The Latino Film Fund (LFF) and Edward James Olmos' Latino International Film Institute.

One of the first movies that portrayed Latinos not as stereotypes, but as regular families with their strengths and weaknesses was Mi Familia. The film won the Hispanic magazine's best picture of the 1995. It starred Edward James Olmos, Jimmy Smits and Jennifer Lopez.

Jennifer Lopez appeared in the Hispanic magazine's list of Hollywood's most powerful along with producer Nely Galán, writer–producer Josefina López, and Cameron Diaz. She also starred in movies such as Jack alongside Robin Williams, Anaconda as a female lead, and Money Train with Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson.

Moctesuma Esparza is a famous Latino producer who is best known for Selena, which grossed $21.7 million in its first ten days. He started his career in the 1980s with movies like Gettysburg (1993 film), The Battle of Gregorio Cortez and The Milagro Beanfield War.

Another Latino actor who is about to break into the mainstream of Hollywood film is Cesar Alejandro. He specializes in starring and producing movies in Spanish, but is beginning to make bilingual films. His latest movie depicts the lives of gang members through generations.

Things seem to be changing for Hispanics in Hollywood as many Hispanics enter and excel in the television and film industry. With movies such as Mi Familia and Selena making a respectable showing at the box office, the future is looking bright for Latinos in film

Latino actors

Actors such as Antonio Banderas, Alfred Molina, Charlie & Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez are often thought to be Latino but they actually have roots in Spain, but not Latin America, so they are not ethnically Latino.

Actors Note
Desi Arnaz Born in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba and is a Cuban-American actor
Desi Arnaz, Jr. Son of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball
Benjamin Bratt Bratt's mother is a Peruvian Indigenous
Rubén Blades Born in Panama City, Panama
Gael García Bernal Born in Guadalajara, Mexico
Cheech Marin He is of Mexican descent
Ricardo Montalbán Born in Mexico City, Mexico
Danny Trejo He is of Mexican descent
Edward James Olmos Is a Mexican American
Frankie Muniz Muniz is of Puerto Rican, Italian, and Irish descent
Héctor Elizondo His parents moved from Puerto Rico to New York City
Erik Estrada He is of Puerto Rican descent
Freddie Prinze His mother was Puerto Rican
Freddie Prinze Jr. Son of Freddie Prinze, his mother is of English and Irish descent
Jimmy Smits His father is Surinamese of Dutch descent and his mother is Puerto Rican
Luis Guzmán Is a Puerto Rican American actor
Javier Bardem Is a Spanish actor of Spanish and Cuban descent
Mark Consuelos Is a Spanish-born American television and film actor of Spanish and Mexican descent
Oscar Torre
Gabriel Iglesias He is of Mexican heritage
William Levy Cuban actor
George Lopez Mexican descent
Mario Lopez He is of Mexican descent
John Leguizamo John Leguizamo was born in Bogotá, Colombia
Diego Luna Is a Mexican actor
Sal Lopez
Alejandro Patino
Richard Yniguez
David Carreno
Daniel Zacapa Born in Honduras
Esai Morales Of Puerto Rican descent
Demián Bichir Is a Mexican actor
Édgar Ramírez Is a Venezuelan actor
Paul Rodriguez Is a Mexican-born American stand-up comedian and actor
Rico Rodriguez He is of Mexican–American descent
Rodrigo Santoro Is a Brazilian actor
Andy García Is a Cuban American actor
Danny Pino Is of Cuban descent.
Tyler Posey He is of Mexican, Irish, and English ancestry
James Roday His father is of Mexican descent
Ruben Santiago-Hudson His father was Puerto Rican
Jon Huertas
Wilmer Valderrama He is of Colombian and Venezuelan descent
Ryan Guzman His father is Mexican and His mother in American of English, Scottish, German, French, and Dutch ancestry
Raúl Juliá Was a Puerto Rican actor
Jaime Paul Gomez Is a Mexican American Actor.
Oscar Isaac Is a Guatemalan-born American actor.

Latina actresses

Despite popular misconception, actresses from Spain, such as Maribel Verdu and Penélope Cruz, who do not have roots in Latin America would not be classified as Latina.

Actresses Note
Judy Reyes Daughter of Dominican immigrants
Lucie Arnaz Daughter of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball
Morena Baccarin Is a Brazilian actress of Italian descent
Bérénice Bejo Is a French-Argentine actress
Jordana Brewster Her mother is Brazilian
Míriam Colón Is a Puerto Rican actress
America Ferrera Her parents, were originally from Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Carmen Miranda Was a Portuguese-born Brazilian
Jade Puga Is a Mexican-American actress
Sônia Braga Is a Brazilian actress
Aubrey Plaza Her father is Puerto Rican
Eva Longoria Is a Mexican-American actress
Rosario Dawson Her mother is of Puerto Rican and Afro-Cuban descent
Cote de Pablo Is a Chilean-American actress
Rosie Perez Puerto Rican parents
Rita Moreno Is a Puerto Rican actress and singer
Julie Gonzalo Is an Argentine-American actress
Selena Gomez Her father is of Mexican descent
Salma Hayek Is a Mexican and American film actress
Fernanda Montenegro Is a Brazilian actress
Jennifer Lopez Puerto Rican parents
Jessica Alba Her father is of Mexican ancestry
Elizabeth Peña Is a Cuban-American actress
Cierra Ramirez
Dania Ramirez Is a Dominican-American actress
Sara Ramirez Is a Mexican singer and actress
Sarah Ramos Her father has Hispanic ancestry
Monica Raymund Her mother is a native of the Dominican Republic
Naya Rivera Rivera is of half Puerto Rican, a quarter African American, and a quarter German descent
Génesis Rodríguez Is an American actress
Gina Rodriguez Is a Puerto Rican actress
Michelle Rodriguez Her mother is a native of the Dominican Republic, her father is a native of Puerto Rico
Raini Rodriguez Is of Mexican descent.
Madeleine Stowe Her mother, had come from a prominent family in Costa Rica
Karla Souza Is a Mexican actress.
Bella Thorne Her father, was of Cuban descent
Gina Torres Her parents were both of multiracial Cuban descent
Leonor Varela Is a Chilean actress and model
Lauren Vélez Vélez's parents moved from Puerto Rico in the early 1950s
Alexa Vega Her father is Colombian
Lana Parrilla Her father is Puerto Rican
Sofía Vergara Is a Colombian actress
Roselyn Sánchez Is a Puerto Rican singer-songwriter, model, actress, producer and writer
Demi Lovato Her father was of Mexican and Spanish descent
Zoe Saldana Is of mixed Puerto Rican and Dominican heritage
Harmony Santana She is of mixed Puerto Rican and Dominican heritage
Cameron Diaz Her father's family were Cuban (of Spanish descent)
Victoria Justice Her mother is of Puerto Rican ancestry
Lynda Carter Her mother was of Spanish-Mexican descent[1]
Elpidia Carrillo Is a Mexican actress
Rosanna DeSoto Is a Mexican American actress
Lupe Ontiveros Daughter of Mexican immigrants
Mía Maestro Is an Argentine actress
Vanessa Marcil Marcil's father is Mexican and her mother is an American of French, Italian, and Portuguese ancestry
Constance Marie Is of Mexican descent
Catalina Sandino Moreno Is a Colombian actress
Denise Blasor
Ivonne Coll Is a former Miss Puerto Rico
Evelina Fernandez
Alma Martínez
Jossara Jinaro Is a Cuban-Mexican-American actress
Yareli Arizmendi
Carmen Zapata Mexican father and an Argentine mother
Susana Santiago
Brittany Underwood Her mother is from Colombia and her father is of English descent
Maiara Walsh Her mother is from Brazil and her father is of Irish, German and Swedish descent
Raquel Welch Her father is of Bolivian descent
Tahnee Welch Daughter of Raquel Welch

Latino filmmakers



External links

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