In The Help, a new movie which opened in theaters yesterday, actors Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer star as African American maids in Mississipi during the early 1960’s. While the movie, which is based on Kathryn Stockett’s 2009 novel of the same name, doesn’t feature any Latina actresses in the roles of maids, Latinas have a long history of playing 'the help' in movies and on television. Here are 10 of our favorite Latina 'help' roles of all-time!
Shelley Morrison, Will & Grace (1999-2006)
One of the funniest things about NBC’s hit comedy Will & Grace, was the constant fighting between Karen Walker (Megan Mullaly) and her maid, Rosario Salazar (played brilliantly by Spanish actress, Shelley Morrison). Karen and Rosie would often engage in shouting matches, make fun of each other's outfits, and trade insults (like, "Lady, tonight you better sleep with one eye open!"), but at the end of the day, they really did love each other. Check out some of their best fights here.
Jennifer Lopez, Maid in Manhattan (2002)
We loved Jennifer as Marisa Ventura, a born and bred New York maid (and single mom) who teaches a high profile politician named Christopher Marshall (Ralph Fiennes) what it’s like to grow up in the projects. Lopez’s character—an ambitious and smart Latina who is fantastic at her job—gets promoted from maid to manager in the movie, and eventually starts her own hospitality business.
Aida Linares, Clueless (1995)
“I am not a Mexican!” That's what Lucy (Aida Linares) says to Cher (Alicia Silverstone) in Clueless, when Cher assumes that Lucy is Mexican, when in fact she's from El Salvador. As Cher's step-brother explains to his step-sister, "it's an entirely different country!"
Lupe Ontiveros, As Good As It Gets (1997)
Mexican actress Lupe Ontiveros estimates that she has played a maid between 150 and 300 times in her career—that’s a lot! But our favorite Lupe performance is hands down her role as the idealistic and emotional Nora Manning, Simom Bishop's (Greg Kinnear) maid in the Oscar-winning film, As Good As It Gets. After her boss, Simon is attacked in his apartment, Nora goes to see Simon's awful neighbor Melvin Udall (a cranky, OCD-having Jack Nicholson), to see if he is willing to watch Simon's dog for him until he recovers. "Open his curtains for him," she says, smiling angelically. "So he can see God's beautiful work." Melvin doesn't like Nora's positive energy and responds, "where do they teach you to talk like this, in some Panama City sailor want to hump-hump bar? Sell crazy someplace else. We're all stocked up here." Check out the hilarious scene!
Consuela, Family Guy (2005-Present)
It seems weird to call Conseula from Family Guy 'the help,' only because Consuela is a selfish chica who never helps anyone! She doesn't take messages (she often picks up the phone and says "no, no," then hangs up), and when she's asked to pick up around the Griffin residence, she responds, "I no can clean." She also uses the word mister quite often, despite the fact that she doesn't know what it means (she often calls women "mister," for example). Even though she's voiced by a man who isn't Latino (actor, Mike Henry), Consuela is hands down one of our favorite Latina maids on TV. We laugh out loud every time we watch her on the show.
Paz Vega, Spanglish (2004)
In James L. Brooks’ Spanglish, Spanish actress, Paz Vega played Flor Moreno, a poor Mexican single mom who gets hired as a 24/7 live-in maid for an affluent American family, despite the fact that she doesn’t speak a single word of English. Not only did Flor have to do tons of cooking and cleaning, but she also had to deal with the family matriarch, a quirky and neurotic woman named Deborah Clasky (Tea Leoni).
Kate del Castillo, La Misma Luna (2007)
In La Misma Luna (Under the Same Moon), Mexican actress Kate Del Castillo plays Rosario, a woman who works as a maid in the U.S., who dreams of reuniting with her son, Carlitos (Adrian Alonso). With the money she makes as a maid, Rosario calls her son every Sunday, and pays her family members to look after him.
Adriana Barraza, Babel (2006)
For her role as Amelia, the nanny and maid of an American family in the Oscar-nominated film, Babel, Mexican actress Adriana Barraza was nominated for a Golden Globe, a Screen Actor's Guild Award, and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Catalina Saavedra, The Maid (2009)
In The Maid (or "La Nana" as it is called in Spanish), Chilean actress Catalina Saavedra played Raquel, a maid who had been serving a family for over 20 years, who literally cleans house to ensure that she's the family's only help. Saavedra's performance in the film won her several awards for Best Actress.