These seven Latina superstars are all gorgeous, dynamic, and talented actresses. Moreover, each has helped to redefine beauty standards and inspire countless generations of women and girls to celebrate their unique qualities and reach for the stars.
1. Dolores del Rio
Breakout Role • Charmaine in What Price Glory? (1926)
Born in Durango, Mexico, Dolores del Rio began her career in silent films. She not only successfully made the leap to talkies, she was the first Mexican movie star to make it in Hollywood. Dolores was renowned for her exotic and, seemingly ageless, beauty. At 37 she returned to Mexico where she went on to become one of the most important film stars of her time. In 1960, she made her Hollywood comeback starring with Elvis Presley in Flaming Star—cementing her status as a true screen goddess.
2. Rita Hayworth
Iconic Role • Title role in Gilda (1946)
Dancer and actress Rita Hayworth was one of the greatest film stars of the 40s, dazzling audiences with her exquisite beauty and grace. Her seductive portrayal of femme fatale Gilda is legendary. Although she felt compelled to downplay her Latina heritage in order to achieve mainstream Hollywood success, Rita changed the face of beauty in her time.
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As a little girl, Rita Moreno moved from Humacao, Puerto Rico to New York City where she studied acting, singing and dancing. She first appeared on Broadway at age 13 and went on to win both Best Supporting Actress Oscar and Golden Globe awards in 1961for her saucy portrayal of Anita in West Side Story. She has had a long, illustrious, and incredibly diverse television and film career including six-year stints on The Electric Company and Oz.
She is the first Latino to win an Emmy (one each for guest appearances on The Muppet Show, 1977 and The Rockford Files, 1978, a Grammy (The Electric Company Album, 1972) an Oscar, and a Tony (Best Featured Actress in a Play for The Ritz, 1975).
4. Jennifer Lopez
Breakout Role • Title role in Selena (1997)
Bronx-born dancer turned actress turned pop star turned mogul, Jennifer Lopez is truly a force to be reckoned with. She began her illustrious career as a dancer, first appearing on television as a Fly Girl on In Living Color in 1991. Audiences really took notice in 1997 with her stellar portrayal of Tejano star Selena—which earned her an ALMA Award for Outstanding Actress and a Golden Globe nomination. In 1999, JLo beat the actress/pop star crossover odds when her debut album On the 6 was a surprise hit. If being a multi-talented triple threat weren’t enough, the stunning plunging, green, Versace gown she wore to the 42nd Grammy Awards in 2000 earned her a place in fashion history.
Today the Jlo empire continues to grow with fragrances, a fashion line, movie roles, a new greatest hits album and two seasons as a judge on American Idol.
Raquel Welch embodied untamed sex-symbol glamour in the 60s and 70s. The tantalizing image of her tousled mane and animal skin wrapped curves in the British adventure flick One Million Years B.C. sparked caveman fantasies for generations of men. Because of her voluptuous beauty she was often typecast in less than challenging sexpot roles but she did snag a Best Actress Golden Globe for The Three Musketeers in 1973.
6. America Ferrera
Iconic Role • Betty Suarez in Ugly Betty (2006-2010)
America Ferrera’s parents emigrated to the U.S. from Honduras in the 70s and eventually settled in Los Angeles, CA where America was born. She made her feature film debut in the acclaimed indie coming-of-age hit Real Women Have Curves portraying a Mexican-American teenager but her big break came in 2006 when she landed the title role in the TV series Ugly Betty. The influential series was lauded for challenging beauty ideals as well as racial and gender stereotypes. In 2007, America received a Best Actress Golden Globe and was the first Latina to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress-Comedy Series.
In addition to lending her down-to-earth beauty and talent to inspirational film and TV roles, America is active in political and social causes. Most recently she participated in the documentary series Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide that premiered on PBS October 1, 2012.
7. Eva Longoria
Iconic Role • Gabrielle Solis in Desperate Housewives (2004-2012)
Eva Longoria’s girl next-door meets sexy pin-up good looks and bubbly charm guaranteed she’d be a star, but her portrayal of Gabrielle Solis on the hit series, Desperate Housewives made her a household name and cemented her icon status. Her incomparable style and willingness to take fashion risks has made her a red carpet darling but Eva’s much more than a pretty face. In 2006, she founded Eva’s Heroes—a non-profit organization “dedicated to enriching the lives of those with intellectual special needs”—and she’s the national spokesperson for PADRES Contra el Cáncer.
Photo Credits: Raquel Welch (Retna UK); Eva Longoria (FilmStills.net/Retna Ltd.); Rita Moreno (Capital Pictures / Retna Ltd.)