Earlier this Women’s History Month, we highlighted seven amazing real-life Latinas and the films and television shows that center their lives. Be sure to watch them all!
The truth is, the list shouldn’t be only seven. It should be infinite as there have been Latinas defining this country since before its inception. The Latinx communities make up 20% of the U.S. population and are spread throughout each state, occupying each profession, and contributing each and every way to this country.
Our stories are human stories and they deserve and need to be told. To set the record straight.
To declare loudly and clearly that we matter. To lift up our heroes and history-makers. To celebrate the women, our ancestors, who have come before us. There is so much Latinx history that goes untold but we – NHMC and LatinaMedia.Co – are here with some inspiring ideas.
So listen up, Hollywood: here are seven Latinas who deserve to have their story on the silver screen. There are many more – this list too could be never ending, but we want to keep it simple and actionable. Take this moment in Women’s History Month to learn about these Latinas, past and present, who deserve major motion pictures. Build upon what you’ve done in the past and listen to the Latinx creatives who are ready to tell these tales. Hire us. Pay us. Promote our work. We are the future!
Isabel “Jovita Idár (1885-1946)
Can you imagine the scene: a lone Mexican American woman in turn-of-the-century clothes is in front of her newspaper office. Armed men surround her, telling her to move so they can destroy the building and silence her voice. She stands firm. This is the true story of Jovita Idár, a pioneering journalist who is just now getting the attention she deserves, thanks in part to the New York Times’ Overlooked No More series. Indeed, Idár has many accomplishments to her name including penning works opposing anti-Mexican racism, serving as a nurse during the Mexican revolution, and advocating for women’s suffrage.
Lupe Vélez (1908-1944)
Actress Lupe Vélez was Hollywood’s “Mexican Spitfire,” appearing in 45 productions and countless tabloids on both sides of the border. She helmed the “Spitfire” series, eight comedy films released in short succession between 1939 and 1943, rare for Latinas then and now. Vélez was a true celebrity, famous for her work on-screen and her personal life which included affairs with Hollywood legends such as Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin, and Gary Cooper. Indeed, she helped define the idea of the “fiery” Latina temptress. She was pregnant when she died and the circumstances surrounding her apparent suicide continue to be debated. It’s a true-crime story waiting to happen.
Julia López (1936-present) –
Painter Julia López’s biopic would be studded with cameos of Mexico’s artistic elite. She entered the scene as a model, working for icons like Diego Rivera and coming up with fellow stars like Alberto Gironella. Her film could follow her growing up as one of eight daughters, pursuing her passion in Mexico City, and teaching herself how to paint. She was exhibiting as early as 1958, thanks to her innate talent and the encouragement of Carlos Orozco Romero. Imagine the thrill of following the journey of a Black and Indigenous artist, depicting dark-skinned Mexican women’s joy on the global stage. We’d watch it on repeat.
Sara Gómez (1942-1974)
The movies love a story about movies so who better to profile than Afro-Cuban director Sara Gómez? She was the first woman director, the first woman of color director, and one of only two Black filmmakers at the time in Cuba’s ICAIC (Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos). Her 1974 film De Cierta Manera explores how race, gender, and class intersected on the island, shifting between narrative and documentary styles. Tragically, Gómez died at just 31 having stayed in poor health after the birth of her second child. She was the subject of a 2004 documentary by a Swiss filmmaker yet deserves a scripted film, helmed by an Afro-Latina.
Gwen Ifill (1955-2016)
Panamanian American Gwen Ifill left us far too soon. Her career spanned decades and included many firsts – Ifill was the first Black woman to host Washington Week in Review, the first Black woman to moderate a vice-presidential debate (which she did twice), and was part of the first all-woman team to moderate a presidential debate. Her role in the debates – prepping for them, handling the controversy, sitting in the hot seat – would make a great film arc in and of itself. But so would her entire career as she faced racism and sexism, persevered, and helped change the systems that oppressed her.
Alice Bag (1958-present)
Chicana Alice Bag is a punk pioneer. As the lead singer of the Bags, she helped define the hardcore sound and style of LA’s early punk scene and is still performing today. Certainly, her biopic would show her early musical training in ranchera, her teenage rebellion (and the racism and sexism she faced), her writing (both her memoir Violence Girl, From East LA Rage to Hollywood Stage – A Chicana Punk Story and her interviews with women in punk), and her activism as an artist, teacher, and Chicana feminist. The costumes alone would be amazing. The music intense. The story unforgettable.
Amaranta Gómez Regalado (1977-present)
Amaranta Gómez Regalado proudly identifies as muxhe, which in Zapotec Oaxaca is a person assigned male at birth but otherwise behaves in ways often associated with women. Many see them as a third gender and Amaranta’s story is one of defining that term. Her film can show how she pioneered for muxhe rights from changing her birth certificate to getting her university to acknowledge her gender identity. How she became a leader, advocating for women’s equality and HIV prevention. How she survived a car accident, losing her arm in the process. How she ran for federal office and garnered international attention.
LatinaMedia.Co uplifts Latina and femme Latinx perspective in media by publishing original pieces of criticism, amplifing the on-going work of Latina and gender non-conforming Latinx critics, and focusing on Latinx media.
The National Hispanic Media Coalition is a 35 year old nonprofit 501(c)(3) civil rights organization that was founded to eliminate hate, discrimination, and racism towards the Latinx community, by increasing our representation from Hollywood to Washington, DC.