17 Incredible Latin Actresses Dominating Hollywood
Let’s be honest; Hollywood tends to be a little bland. Luckily, actresses from all over the world and with diverse backgrounds add a little flavor to every movie, TV show, and song. With their remarkable presence, charm, and skills, Latin actresses steal the spotlight in Oscar-winning movies and critically acclaimed television shows.
They’re the highest-paid actresses winning all the big awards. At the same time, several of the top-selling musicians in the world are Latin. Then there are the Latin celebs that literally do it all, from acting to singing and dancing. These iconic Latina actresses have diverse backgrounds, including Mexican, Cuban, Dominican, and Puerto Rican.
A few were born in their homeland, while others grew up in the United States. Regardless, they’re hugely influential in the industry and pave the way for the next generation of Latina stars breaking into showbiz. Here’s a look at 17 incredible Latin actresses dominating Hollywood.
1. Jennifer Lopez
Considered the most influential Latin performer, Bronx native Jennifer Lopez ushered in a new era in Hollywood. The triple-threat entertainer of Puerto Rican descent led the Latin pop movement in the music industry. Lopez first became a household name with her breakout performance in Selena.
Also known as J.Lo, Lopez released several chart-topping albums, notably her debut album, On The 6. Other major roles include The Wedding Planner, Monster-in-Law, and Shades of Blue. Plus, she had a stint as an American Idol judge. The iconic Latin actress is one of the highest-paid Hispanic entertainers in Hollywood today.
2. Zoe Saldana
As the Queen of space, Zoe Saldana has starred in some of the highest-grossing sci-fi franchises in cinema history. Born in New Jersey but raised in the Dominican Republic, Saladana’s mother is Puerto Rican, and her father was Dominican. The Latin superstar is known for portraying characters out of this world.
She took on the part of Nyota Uhura in the Star Trek franchise starting in 2009. She followed that up with the lead role as Neytiri in the James Cameron epic Avatar franchise that same year. Since 2014, she’s well-known for portraying Gamora in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Guardians of the Galaxy series.
3. Selena Gomez
Actress and singer Selena Gomez is one of the most recognizable names in Hollywood today. Starting her career as a child star, Gomez exploded in popularity, going from teen star to pop sensation. She first gained fame as Alex Russo on the hit series Wizards of Waverly Place. With a massive social media following, Gomez is one of the biggest names in the industry today.
Gomez starred in popular movies and released several hot singles setting the airwaves on fire. She stole the spotlight in Only Murders in the Building alongside heavy hitters Steve Martin and Martin Short. Plus, Gomez produced the critically acclaimed Netflix series 13 Reasons Why and currently stars in the HBO series Selena + Chef. Growing up in Texas, Gomez is immensely proud of her Mexican heritage.
4. Salma Hayek
There isn’t a person in the world who doesn’t know Latin icon Salma Hayek. She was born in Veracruz, Mexico, and is of Spanish and Lebanese descent. She started her career in Mexico with roles in telenovelas and movies. She became an international sensation with her heart-stopping performances in Desperado and From Dusk Till Dawn.
For her outstanding performance in Frida, she became the first Mexican star nominated for Best Leading Actress at the Oscars. Considered one of the most beautiful women alive, Hayek is an influential Latin actress that continues to thrive in Hollywood.
5. America Ferrera
Few actresses compare to Latin sensation America Ferrera. She became a household name with her role as Betty Suarez on the hit series Ugly Betty. She’s of Honduran descent and grew up in Los Angeles.
Winning an Emmy, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award in 2007, Ferrera became the first Latina actress to accomplish that feat in the same year. In addition to being involved with politics, she starred in numerous movies and TV shows, notably the sitcom Superstore.
6. Sofia Vergara
Discovered while walking down the beach, Colombian actress Sofia Vergara began her career as a TV host during the late 90s in her homeland. She’s best known for portraying Gloria Delgado-Pritchett on the unforgettable sitcom Modern Family. At one point, Vergara was the highest-paid actress on television.
She was one of the first breakout stars of the series and starred in several popular movies, including The Three Stooges, Chef, and Hot Pursuit. The Emmy Award-nominated Vergara is currently a judge on America’s Got Talent.
7. Gina Rodriguez
As the youngest child of Puerto Rican parents growing up in Chicago, Gina Rodriguez always had her heart in Hollywood. The Latina actress became a household name with her breakout role as Jane Villanueva in the massively popular Jane the Virgin. Fans and critics praised her stellar performance in the series leading to her winning a Golden Globe award.
Rodriguez continues to be a force in showbiz with roles in Deepwater Horizon and Someone Great. Rodrigez remains one of the most talked about Latin actresses in Hollywood today.
8. Sasha Calle
Sasha Calle is quickly becoming the talk of Hollywood with her breakthrough performances. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Calle’s of Columbia heritage and spent the first ten years of her life in Boston. Later, she moved to Columbia for two years with her mother before returning.
With her breakthrough performance on Young & the Restless, Calle received widespread praise, including a Daytime Emmy Award nomination. Calle made history as the first Latin actress cast as Supergirl and debuts in the DC Extended Universe in 2023’s The Flash.
9. Leslie Grace
Latin sensation Leslie Grace was born in The Bronx to Dominican parents. With three Latin Grammy Award nominations, Grace topped the charts with albums, Pasión and Leslie Grace. She already caught the attention of Hollywood and landed a starring role in Lin-Manual Miranda’s In the Heights.
Initially, Grace took on the part of Batgirl/Barbara Gordon in the DC Extended Universe and the Batgirl movie. However, once Batgirl entered post-production, the studio canceled the movie. Regardless, Grace is on the rise in Hollywood and will likely play a superhero again.
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10. Ariana DeBose
Ariana DeBose is already making headlines around the globe with her incredible performances. DeBose is half Puerto Rican on her father’s side of the family. After catching everyone’s attention on So You Think You Can Dance, DeBose received critical acclaim for her role in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical Hamilton.
However, she blew audiences and critics away with her memorable role as Anita in the 2021 remake of West Side Story. In fact, DeBose became the first queer woman of color to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
11. Melissa Barrera
Mexican actress Melissa Barrera is a rising Latin star in Hollywood. She’s on the verge of becoming a household name. Starting her career in Mexico, Barrera starred in telenovelas Siempre tuya Acapulco and the Netflix series Club de Cuervos.
As Hollywood began to take notice of the Spanish sensation, she landed a starring role in the TV series Vida and the horror franchise Scream. Barrera reprises her role as Sam Carpenter in the upcoming sequel Scream 6.
12. Miriam Colon
Spanning several decades, Puerto Rican superstar Miriam Colon had a long and illustrious career in Hollywood. After starting her career in the 50s, Colon landed significant roles in the 60s on such shows as Sanford & Son, Gunsmoke, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
However, the Latin actress continued to appear in several movies, notably as the mother of Tony Montana (portrayed by Al Pacino) in the classic film Scarface. She continued to act and took on the role of Abuelita Salamanca in the critically acclaimed series Better Call Saul before her death in 2017.
13. Kate del Castillo
Born in Mexico City, Kate del Castillo is a world-famous celebrity who gained fame for her roles in the TV series La Reina del Sur, the Netflix series Ingobernable, and the action movie Bad Boys for Life. However, del Castillo is best known for her relationship with infamous drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
After writing an essay praising El Chapo, del Castillo and Guzman formed a close friendship. Of course, Castillo soon found herself at the center of controversy. She tells her account of the relationship in the documentary The Day I Met El Chapo: The Kate del Castillo Story.
14. Gina Torres
Born and raised in New York City to Cuban parents, Gina Torres became one of the most talked about Latina actresses with her breakthrough role in the cult classic Firefly. She returned to the beloved sci-fi series for the sequel film Serenity. Torres is also known for her show-stealing performance as Jessica Pearson on the hit series Suits and the short-lived spin-off Pearson.
15. Rita Moreno
Puerto Rican actress Rita Moreno is a Hollywood icon with a career dating back to the 50s. She’s best known for her roles in classic movies Singin’ in the Rain and 1961’s West Side Story. After moving to New York City in the 30s, Moreno became a teen sensation in Hollywood.
She continues to be a significant force in the industry with her roles in Jane the Virgin and the 2021 remake of West Side Story. As one of the last stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood, Moreno is among the few celebrities to achieve an EGOT, winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award.
16. Justina Machado
Chicago native Justina Machado grew up in the United States but was always close to her Puerto Rican roots. Starting her career in the early 90s, Machado first gained attention with her breakout role in the critically acclaimed classic series Six Feet Under. Suddenly, her career took off with significant roles in Jane the Virgin, Ugly Betty, and Queen of the South.
From 2017 to 2020, Machado starred as Penelope Alvarez in the remake of the classic series One Day at a Time. The series revolves around Machado’s character and her Cuban-American family.
17. Michelle Rodriguez
Known for portraying tough-as-nails characters, San Antonio’s own Michelle Rodriguez is of Dominican and Puerto Rican heritage. Rodriguez is easily one of the most famous Latin actresses. The Latina star gained widespread praise for her breakout role in Girlfight. Later, she took on the part of Letty Ortiz in the action franchise Fast & Furious.
With significant roles in Avatar, Resident Evil, and Lost, Rodriguez continues to deliver stellar performances. In 2010, she received universal praise for her portrayal of Minerva Mirabal in the true story Trópico de Sangre.
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