Dear 'Smash': Consider These 30 Latinos Who’ve Made a Splash in Musicals!

Following its smashing success as a midseason replacement last year, NBC’s Smash returns this week with a two-hour season premiere that features a Bombshell opening on The Great White Way and the addition of a little sabor to the hit Broadway-based musical drama’s ensemble cast.

Krysta Rodriguez, who originated the role of Wednesday Addams in the Broadway musical The Addams Family, will portray Ana Vargas, Karen's (Katharine McPhee) new roommate looking to sink her teeth into the Big Apple as a working actress. Meanwhile, Daphne Rubin-Vega, the Tony-nominated actress who originated the role of Mimi Marquez in the Broadway musical Rent will have a recurring role as a publicist on Smash.

We love that Smash has cast TWO Latinas on the show's second season. But there are plenty of other Latinos they can add to the cast as well!

Here's a look at 30 Latino stars who have let the music play on stage, television, and film...Any of them would be great on Smash

1. Musicals: Sara Ramirez

Sara Ramirez

Sara Ramirez may portray noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. Callie Torres on Grey’s Anatomy, but she’s always be The Lady of the Lake to Broadway fans. The Mexican-born actress/singer, who was showcased in the ABC medical drama’s musical episode in the seventh season, appeared as the original Lady of the Lake in the 2005 Broadway musical Monty Python’s Spamalot, a role that earned her the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.

2. Musicals: America Ferrera

America Ferrera

Like her character did on the series finale of Ugly Betty, America Ferrera headed to London in 2011. But the Honduran American actress didn’t go to pursue a career as an editor. She actually made her London stage debut on November 7, 2011, playing Roxie Hart in the musical Chicago in London's West End.

3. Musicals: Ricky Martin

Ricky Martin

He’s performed on the world’s biggest stages, including New York City’s Marquis Theatre. Ricky Martin portrayed Che in the Broadway revival of the 2006 West End production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Evita. The Puerto Rican earned critical claim and a Drama Desk Award nomination for his performance in the production, which earned three Tony Awards nominations, including Best Musical Revival. Following the announcement that Martin would be leaving the production, Evita closed on January 26, 2013 after 337 performances and 26 previews.

4. Musicals: Karen Olivo

Karen Olivo

She may have earned rave reviews for originating the role of Vanessa in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights. But Karen Olivo earned her own Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance as Anita (2009–2010) in the revival of West Side Story. The part-Puerto Rican/part-Dominican actress is the first and only actor to win a Tony for a performance in West Side Story.

5. Musicals: John Leguizamo

John Leguizamo

In recent years, he’s become famous to a whole new generation as the voice of Sid the Sloth in the Ice Age films. But in 2001, John Leguizamo proved he had a singing voice when he starred in Baz Luhrmann’s romantic Jukebox musical film Moulin Rouge! The Colombian-born actor portrayed Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, the real-life French painter, printmaker, draughtsman and illustrator, in the Nicole Kidman- and Ewan McGregor-starrer. Leguizamo performs David Bowie’s version of the song “Nature Boy” during the film’s introductory scenes. 

6. Musicals: David Alvarez

David Álvarez

David Álvarez shared a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for his role in Billy Elliot the Musical with Kiril Kulish and Trent Kowalik. The three originated the role of Billy in the original Broadway cast of the musical based on the 2000 film Billy Elliot.

7. Musicals: Chita Rivera

Chita Rivera

Chita Rivera, the first Hispanic woman to receive a Kennedy Center Honors award, is a musical theater legend. The half-Puerto Rican actress/singer/dancer got her start on the stage by happenstance. In 1951, Rivera accompanied a friend to the audition for the touring company of Call Me Madam and ended up landing the role herself. She then landed roles in other Broadway productions like Guys and Dolls and Can-Can. And in 1957, she the role that was destined to make her a Broadway star, the spitfire Anita in West Side Story. Rivera, a nine-time Tony Award nominee, won two of the coveted trophies for Best Actress in a Musical in The Rink (1984) and Kiss of the Spider Woman (1992). She most recently starred in last year’s Broadway revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, a musical based on the unfinished Charles Dickens novel by the same name.

8. Musicals: Rita Moreno

Rita Moreno

Like Chita Rivera, Rita Moreno became a star for playing the firebrand Anita in West Side Story, only the Puerto Rican singer, dancer and actress portrayed her in the 1961 film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical. Moreno won the Academy Award for her riveting performance; and she’d go on to become the only Hispanic EGOT artist, the most prestigious badge of honor available to anyone in the performance industry as the winner of an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony.

9. Musicals: Lin-Manuel Miranda

Lin-Manuel Miranda

Talk about nurturing an idea and taking all the way to the big leagues. During his sophomore year at Wesleyan University in 1999, Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the earliest draft of In the Heights. After the show was accepted by Wesleyan's student theater company The Second Stage, Miranda worked on adding some "freestyle rap ... bodegas, and salsa numbers" to it. Following its short run at Wesleyan, Miranda would go on to write five separate drafts of In The Heights while working English teacher at his former high school. After some success off-Broadway, In The Heights opened on Broadway in 2008, with Miranda starring as Usnavi. In The Heights would go on to win four Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and earn Miranda the Tony for Best Original Score.

10. Musicals: Raul Esparza

Raúl Esparza

Raúl Esparza was born to perform on Broadway. The Cuban-American stage actor/singer most recently starred in the musical Leap of Faith, which opened on Broadway in April 2012. And he’s received Tony nominations for his role as a vibrant and flamboyant Philip Salon in Boy George’s musical Taboo in 2004; Robert, an empty man devoid of connection in 2006’s musical comedy Company; a lazy and snarky man in Harold Pinter's The Homecoming; and an aggressive volatile movie producer in David Mamet's Speed the Plow. He’s also played the role of Riff Raff on Broadway in the revival of The Rocky Horror Show and the role of Caractacus Potts in the Broadway musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

11. Musicals: Antonio Banderas

Antonio Banderas

Antonio Banderas earned the first of his three Golden Globe nominations for his role in 1996’s film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Evita, based on the life of Eva Perón and starring Madonna. The Spanish actor portrayed Che, an everyman who narrates the story of Eva's rise to power and later illness and death. Throughout the film, Banderas appears in many different guises and serves as Eva's conscience and critic.

12. Musicals: Rosario Dawson

Rosario Dawson

Rosario Dawson starred in the 2005 film version of the popular Broadway musical Rent. The Puerto Rican/Afro-Cuban actress portrayed exotic dancer Mimi Marquez, replacing Daphne Rubin-Vega, who was pregnant and unable to play the part the originated on Broadway. Dawson remembers winning the role of Mimi. "I was so excited because I grew up on 13th Street and I told my mom about it, and she was like [incredulous, cheeks puffed out], 'They say you have the best ass below 14th Street? You?' I guess I'm the only actress who wants a bigger butt,” Dawson told GQ in an interview. “I've been working on it."

13. Musicals: Sofia Vergara

Sofia Vergara

Sure, she’s a brilliant comedic actress. But Sofia Vergara, a three-time Emmy-nominee for her role on ABC’s Modern Family, has some real singing talent. The Colombian bombshell proved it in 2009, when she appeared in a five-week stint on Broadway as Matron "Mama" Morton in the musical Chicago.

14. Musicals: Wilson Cruz

Wilson Cruz

He’s best known for playing Rickie Vasquez on ABC’s short-lived My So-Called Life. But the Afro-Puerto Rican actor is no one trick pony. In 1998, Cruz portrayed Angel – a young drag queen, street percussionist with AIDS – in the Broadway production of Rent. He’s also starred in 2003’s A Perfect Wedding and 2005’s Tick, Tick… BOOM!

15. Musicals: Syesha Mercado

Syesha Mercado

She may have had to settle for third place on the seventh season of American Idol, but Syesha Mercado would prove to be the top dawg in 2009, when she landed the lead role of Deena Jones in the U.S. national tour of Dreamgirls. The half-Puerto Rican singer/actress earned raves when she kicked off her stint at the Apollo Theater on November 7, 2009.

16. Musicals: Irene Cara

Irene Cara

“Remember my name. Fame!” It was hard to forget Irene Cara’s name after her performance in 1980’s film Fame, which earned her a Golden Globe nomination, and her recording of the film’s theme song became an international hit. The Puerto Rican and Cuban American singer/actress would go on to star in on-and off-Broadway theatrical shows including the musicals Ain't Misbehavin', The Me Nobody Knows, Maggie Flynn opposite Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy, and Via Galactica with Raul Julia.

17. Musicals: Penelope Cruz

Penélope Cruz

Penélope Cruz followed up her Academy Award-winning performance in 2008’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona by (high) steppin’ up her game. The Spanish actress starred in Rob Marshall’s 2009 musical Nine, playing Carla Albanese, the mistress of the film’s Italian filmmaker protagonist (Daniel Day-Lewis). Cruz’s portrayal, including her show-stopping performance of “A Call from the Vatican,” earned her a second consecutive Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

18. Musicals: Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera

In 2010, Christina Aguilera made her feature film debut in the musical Burlesque, playing a small town girl, Ali Rose, who finds love and success in a Los Angeles neo-burlesque club. Steve Antin, the film’s writer and director, wrote the part of Ali specifically with Aguilera in mind. And the half-Ecuadorian singer delivered. She performed eight of the musical numbers on the film's soundtrack, and co-wrote a number of the tracks. Even though she didn’t earn award-recognition for her performance, she did garner a Golden Globe and Grammy nomination for her work on the film’s music.

19. Musicals: Diego Boneta

Diego Boneta

Diego Boneta isn’t just a pretty face. The boy can rock! The Mexican actor/singer, who rose to fame on the Mexican telenovela Rebelde, made his U.S. big screen debut with a bangin’ (your head) performance as Drew Boley in Adam Shankman's film version of the hit Broadway musical Rock of Ages. Boneta’s work in the musical earned him an ALMA Award and cemented his status as Hollywood’s next big thing.

20. Musicals: Mario Lopez

Mario Lopez

Apparently there’s nothing Mario Lopez can’t do… The Mexican-American television host, actor and Dancing with the Stars contestant, who appeared as a drummer and dancer on Kids Incorporated, made his Broadway debut on April 15, 2008, in the revival of the musical A Chorus Line, where he appeared in the role of Zach. 

21. Musicals: Lauren Velez

Lauren Vélez

Long before earning a fan following as Detective María LaGuerta on Showtime’s Dexter, Lauren Velez was just a dreamgirl. The Puerto Rican actress landed her first job performing in the national touring company of the musical Dreamgirls. Vélez also played understudy for actress Phylicia Rashad in Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods and performed off-Broadway in the productions of Much Ado About Nothing and Fasade.

22. Musicals: Wilson Jermaine Heredia

Wilson Jermaine Heredia

Call him the ultimate angel! Wilson Jermaine Heredia is best known for his portrayal of Angel Dumott Schunard – a young drag queen, street percussionist with AIDS – in the Broadway musical Rent. The Dominican-American actor/singer’s performance earned him a Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for Best Featured Actor in a musical. Heredia also originated the role at Shaftesbury Theatre in London’s West End and reprised his role in the 2005 film adaptation. In interviews, Heredia has stated that he enjoyed the transformational process involved in assuming the persona of the cross-dressing Angel, but admitted that he didn’t like wearing makeup and found the high heels he had to wear as part of his costume extremely painful. 

23. Musicals: Priscilla Lopez

Priscilla López

Priscilla López has had the distinction of appearing in two Broadway landmarks: one of The Great White Way’s greatest hits, the highly-acclaimed, long-running A Chorus Line, and, as a teenager, in one of its biggest flops, the notorious musical version of Breakfast at Tiffany's, which closed before opening night. The Puerto Rican singer/dancer/actress, who earned a Tony nomination for her work in 1996’s A Chorus Line, took home Broadway’s top prize four years later for her performance in the 1980 musical A Day in Hollywood / A Night in the Ukraine. Most recently López starred as Camila in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning musical In The Heights.

24. Musicals: Paulo Szot

Paulo Szot

Paulo Szot, a Brazilian operatic baritone singer and actor, made his opera debut in 1997. Szot, whose international career has included performances with the Metropolitan Opera, made his Broadway debut as Emile De Becque in 2008’s Broadway revival of South Pacific. For his performance in this musical, Szot won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical, the Drama Desk Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, and the Theatre World Award. And in 2012, he was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for best actor in a musical. He’s first Brazilian to receive such honors.

25. Musicals: Naya Rivera

Naya Rivera

It’s hard to believe Naya Rivera hasn’t earned an Emmy nomination for her role as Santana Lopez on Glee. The half Puerto Rican actress/singer, who signed a deal with Columbia Records to produce a solo album, had been at the center of the Fox musical dramedy’s biggest numbers, including the show’s landmark 300th musical performance in season three, a mash-up of Adele’s "Someone Like You" and "Rumour Has It," which sold 160,000 copies in its first week and debuted at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. But Rivera’s most notable performance came in William McKinley High’s production of West Side Story in season three, in which Rivera masterfully portrayed spitfire Anita and gave a riveting performance of “America.”  

26. Musicals: Blake Jenner

Blake Jenner

Blake Jenner is this season’s breakout star on Glee. Since his debut, the half-Cuban winner of The Glee Project’s second season has managed to wow America with his musical performances. Jenner’s standout moment: effortlessly channeling John Travolta in William McKinley High’s production of Grease. From his testosterone-fueled performance of “Greased Lightnin’” to his aww-inducing rendition of “You're the One That I Want,” Jenner didn’t just prove that “Grease is the word,” he also showed the world that he’s the show’s brightest new arrival!

27. Musicals: Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato

Before recording her recent instahitsSkyscraper” and “Give Your Heart a Break,” Demi Lovato managed to steal the spotlight from the Jonas Brothers. The part-Mexican American actress/singer starred in Disney Channel’s original movie musical Camp Rock with Kevin, Joe and Nick. It led to Lovato getting her own Disney Channel sitcom, Sonny with a Chance. And the rest is history!

28. Musicals: Fergie


Fergie – who has been making music for since 1984, when she starred on the television show Kids Incorporated – returned to acting in 2006, appearing as a lounge singer in the Poseidon remake. But the part-Mexican singer and Black Eyed Peas member’s most memorable acting moment came in 2009, when she starred as Saraghina in the musical film Nine, a prostitute the movie’s protagonist (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his friends paid to teach them the art of love and sex when they were young. Fergie’s performance of “Be Italian” proved to be one of the Nine’s standout performances.

29. Musicals: Jai Rodriguez

Jai Rodriguez

He may be best known for being the “culture vulture on Bravo’s Emmy-winning reality program Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, but Jai Rodriguez is musical veteran. During his career, the half-Puerto Rican singer and actor was part of the Toronto cast of the Broadway stage musical Rent, as Angel, and the off-Broadway musical Zanna, Don't. During his hiatus from shooting Queer Eye in 2005, Rodriguez joined the cast of The Producers on Broadway for three months, playing the role of Carmen Ghia. He later played a different role, Sabu, in the 2005 film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical.

30. Musicals: Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez was a Fly Girl with a dream of stardom until she made her big screen debut in the Selena biopic, where she portrayed la Reina de la Musica Tejana to critical acclaim. Her performance won her an ALMA Award and earned Lopez the first and only Golden Globe nomination of her career.