As Black History Month comes to an end, let's take a look once more at the Afro-Latinos we named "Most Beautiful" in 2012!
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Melissa De Sousa, 44
Most Afro-Latinas in Hollywood are pigeonholed into playing Black roles or Latina roles. Not Melissa De Sousa! The half-Panamanian actress was hilarious as fiery Latina Karen Krantz (AKA Miss New York) in Ms. Congeniality (2000), and she was equally terrific as the African American Shelby in The Best Man (1999). Currently, De Sousa stars as a Latina named Gabriella Jimenez in the hit BET series, Reed Between the Lines. It used to be that you had to pick between being Black and Latina. Thanks to Melissa De Sousa and others like her, that’s not the case anymore!
Adam Rodriguez, 36
When Adam Rodriguez left CBS’ hit show, CSI: Miami in 2009 over salary issues, the show’s fans weren’t having it. “I think when the fans got the news that Delko wasn’t going to be back full-time and when they actually saw he wasn’t back full time, they felt there was something missing from the show,” Adam said back in February of 2010. “They were very vocal about that and I have to give credit to CBS that they paid attention to it.” We started watching CSI: Miami again when Adam made his triumphant return to the show. After all, he’s one of the sexiest guys in primetime!
Mariah Carey, 41
In one of her many hit songs, Mariah Carey asks: “Why are you so obsessed with me?” Well Mariah, how could we not be? From her amazing singing career to her burgeoning film career (who wasn’t floored by her performance in Precious?) to her new site built around adorable twins Monroe and Moroccan—Mimi likes to keep busy. Next, we’ll find her on Justin Bieber’s upcoming Christmas album and making guest appearances on The X-Factor, and we love keeping up with all of her hijinks!
Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod), 36
Sure, he likes to kiss his own reflection in the mirror, but when you look at him, you can see why he’s into himself! The New York Yankees third baseman and 12-time All Star—who has dated Hollywood beauties like Kate Hudson and Cameron Diaz—has sexy light eyes, a bad boy smile that makes us weak in the knees—and he’s a do-gooder: In 2003, the Dominican Rodriguez gave $3.9 million to the University of Miami to renovate its baseball stadium. He’s also donated large sums of money to The Children’s Aid Society, Unicef (in the Dominicna republic), and has worked with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. That’s sexy!
Lauren Velez, 47
In 1995, there were few actresses of color on primetime television, but Lauren Velez didn’t let that stop her from rocking the role of police officer Nina Moreno in the hit TV series, New York Undercover. The Puerto Rican actress made her feature film debut that same year opposite Rita Moreno in the hit movie, I Like It Like That, and her stellar performance earned her an Independent Spirit Award for Best Lead Actress. 16 years later, Velez is still just one of a handful of women representing Afro-Latinas on television, as Captain Maria Laguerta on Showtime’s hit serial killer drama, Dexter.
Esperanza Spalding, 27
How cool is Esperanza Spalding? She plays several instruments masterfully—including bass, the oboe, the violin and the clarinet. She also sings in three languages and has played for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House. In 2010, Esperanza beat out pop phenom Justin Bieber and rapper Drake for Best New Artist at the Grammy Awards for her album, Chamber Music Society. "My mom is Welsh, Hispanic, and Native American, and my father is Black,” says the Afro-Latina Spalding. We love her for breaking the mold in more ways than one.
Anthony “Romeo” Santos, 30
Romeo Santos has been an "Obsesión" of ours for over 10 years. The part-Dominican, part-Puerto Rican singer—who helped introduce Bachata to the mainstream as the lead singer of Aventura—kicked off his own solo career (Justin Timberlake-style) in May of last year with his first single “You” off his solo debut album Formula Vol. 1. He followed that up with another hit single—the Latin pop song “Promise,” which features a duet with Usher and tells the story of men trapped in love with women. What else can we say, other than this guy’s got promise!
Stacey Dash, 45
Talk about a beautiful Afro-Latina! Stacey Dash is 45-years-old, but the half-Mexican actress looks like she’s 25. “I literally just use Cetaphil,” Dash recently told Latina.com. "I keep it very, very simple. I do eye cream and sunscreen every day. Even if you’ve got olive skin, or brown skin, you still need sunscreen," she explains. "I drink a lot of water. I work out." Best known for her role as Dionne Marie Davenport, Cher’s (Alicia Silversone) self-absorbed best friend in the hit 1995 comedy, Clueless, Dash is a talented actress who recently starred in the hit VH1 TV show, Single Ladies.
Naya Rivera, 24
Best known for her role as Cheerio Santana Lopez on FOX’s hit TV show, Glee, Naya Rivera is one sexy Afro-Latina! The 24-year-old actress of Puerto Rican, African American and German heritage, is currently working on her debut album, and is constantly being named to Hot lists—like Maxim and AfterEllen’s Hot 100 list. The best thing about Naya though is that she’s one of the few Afro-Latinas playing a Lesbian on television, and she has become a role model to young gay women.
Zoe Saldana, 33
The lead actress of the highest grossing motion picture of all-time is an Afro-Latina! Half-Dominican, half-Puerto Rican actress Zoe Saldana stole our hearts when she played the peaceful Neytiri in James Cameron’s, Avatar (2009). Since then, the lovely and talented ingénue has used her A-list movie star fame as a forum to convey to young Latinas everywhere that it’s a beautiful thing to be Afro-Latina. “As a Latina, I think we should be very proud of our heritage,” Saldana has said. “We tend to look for European roots and reject the indigenous and the African, and that’s disgusting. Being Latin is being a mix of everything. I want my people not to be insecure, and to adore what we are because it’s beautiful.” Amen, Zoe!
Rocsi Diaz, 27
Even though she’s half-Honduran and half-Chilean, Rocsi Diaz—the host of BET’s hit music countdown show, 106 & Park—says that because she works at a Black network, people don’t believe she’s Latina. “I went to a restaurant, Sofrito, and LL Cool J was sitting there having dinner,” she recalls. “They started playing salsa music and I start dancing. After I finish, he looks at me and he’s like, 'Rocsi, I had no idea you were [Latina].'” Still, that hasn’t stopped the sexy Rocsi from embracing Latino culture and representing for her fellow Afro-Latinas. The driven 27-year-old also has her own self-titled, nationally syndicated radio show called Rocsi on the Radio, and she just completed filming on her first feature film, The Great Divide.
Prince Royce, 23
Whether he’s touring with A-list musicians like Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull—or serenading us with his fabulous Bachata rendition of the Leiber and Stoller classic “Stand By Me”—Prince Royce is Latino royalty! The Dominican singer, who has an adorable baby face and a trusting smile, has women young and old crushing on him—including fellow singer Selena Gomez. “I think he’s really cute,” Selena tells us...We agree!
Rosario Dawson, 32
Rosario Dawson has a body of work in films that most actresses would envy. The Afro-Cuban and Puerto Rican actress has worked with great actors (Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Phillip Seymour Hoffman), great directors (Oliver Stone, Spike Lee, Robert Rodriguez)—and she’s played iconic roles (Mimi in the movie-musical Rent; Gail in Sin City). But when she’s not acting, Dawson is working hard on Voto Latino, the non-profit voter registration organization she co-founded in 2004. Why? Because Rosario knows just how important it is to mobilize young Latinos to hit the polls.
J.R. Martinez, 28
In 2003, J.R. Martinez suffered severe burns to over 40 percent of his body while serving as a United States Army Infantryman in Iraq. But the Salvadorian Martinez didn’t let that stop him from achieving all of his dreams. In 2008, he was cast in ABC’s daytime drama All My Children in the role of Brot Monroe, a character—who like Martinez—served with the U.S. Army in Iraq and was injured in combat. J.R. is also a successful motivational speaker and last year, he won season 13 of ABC’s hit series, Dancing With the Stars. When we told Martinez he made our Most Beautiful list, the humble actor said: “I am honored to be in the company of the other amazing individuals including Victor Cruz and Bruno Mars. Part of what makes us beautiful is our swagger and attitude, and I am proud to carry that on.”
Evelyn Lozada, 37
What we love most about Evelyn Lozada isn’t her ability to deliver clever insults like “You’re a nonmother******* factor" - it’s that Lozada always keeps it real. She hasn’t had the easiest life — she got pregnant at a young age and has admitted to being on welfare and to being cheated on repeatedly by her former boyfriend, Antoine Walker. But through it all, the Basketball Wives star has been honest and upfront, inspiring other young moms to believe that they too can get through the hard times. Lozada also owns Florida shoe boutique, Dulce, and she signed a six-figure deal to develop literary and feature film projects with Cash Money Content.
Soledad O’Brien, 45
Soledad O’Brien, who’s half Afro-Cuban and half-Irish, is the only Afro-Latina on our list who explores mixed-race heritage for a living. O’Brien reported on CNN’s Latino in America, a wide-ranging look at Latinos living in America and how they’re reshaping the country—and Black in America, a special about the state of Black America 40 years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Her In America series will continue to explore issues of race in the United States. In 2012, O’Brien will host a new CNN morning show, which is great news since we need more Afro-Latinas anchoring news shows!
Arlenis Sosa, 22
A current spokesmodel for Lancome, Dominican model Arlenis Sosa is on a first-name basis with everyone from Oscar de la Renta to Anna Wintour. She’s also walked for some of the most prestigious designers and fashion houses in the world. But what we love most about Arlenis is the way she supports her fellow Afro-Latinas. “Models need to stick together, especially black models, whom people are always accusing of being too competitive,” she told us in 2010. “I never think about things in terms of someone taking a job away from me or me taking it away from them. If you get it, I’m happy. If I get it, I’m happy. The important thing is that black models are doing it big now.”
Heather Hemmens, 23
Everyone knows that Heather Hemmens starred in the CW series, Hellcats, but Hemmens, who’s half-Costa Rican, says because she has dark skin, few people know she’s Latina. “[People don't immediately think of me as Latina] because my mother is a black Costa Rican, so I have this skin tone that's kind of unidentifiable,” explains Hemmens. But the proud Afro-Latina says being unidentifiable has gotten her nondescript roles. “It’s great because as an actress, it gives me a versatility to play a black woman or play a Latina woman. I've even played Egyptian and Indian American. With the right hair and makeup,” she says. “I've actually got a pretty good road going here where I can play a lot of things.”
La La Anthony, 32
This former MTV VJ is a sometimes actress (Two Can Play That Game, You Got Served), a former MTV VJ and host (Total Request Live, Charm School) and a reality star (VH1’s La La’s Full Court Life). She’s also married to an NBA superstar (New York Knick Carmelo Anthony, with whom she runs Krossover Productions), she’s got a beautiful son named Kiyan, and her friends include Hollywood stars like, Justin Timberlake, Kim Kardashian, Ludacris and LeBron James. What can we say? Life is good for La La!
Laz Alonso, 37
Whether he’s kicking ass and taking names in his own star vehicle (A & E’s hit series Breakout Kings), or romancing Paula Patton on the big screen (Jumping the Broom), Laz is one tall, dark and handsome drink of water! What we love most about the Afro-Cuban actor is that he’s the perfect combination of brains (and brawn). A graduate of Howard University with a BBA in Marketing, Laz tells Latina.com he’s proud to be Afro-Latino. “I always like to say that whether you’re African American, Afro-Jamaican, Afro-Haitian, Afro-British, Afro-Cuban, Afro-Panamanian, whatever — black is black." He adds :"I have a Cuban influence from my ethnicity, so I feel 100 percent Cuban and 100 percent Black and nobody can take that away from me.”
Gloria Govan, 25
Her dramatic on-again, off-again relationship with NBA star Matt Barnes aside, Gloria Govan is actually a very sweet and down to earth girl. The Afro-Latina reality star (she’s half-Mexican and half-African American) is the star of VH1’s hit reality show, Basketball Wives LA, but she somehow manages to keep things classy no matter how much drama unfolds on the show. "It's not just us sitting around throwing drinks at each other and fighting the entire time," the gorgeous Govan says of her hit show. “We have altercations and we settle it like women...and then we keep it moving.”
Nicole Richie, 30
Nicole Richie’s birthparents were Latinos Peter and Karen Escovedo, but she was adopted by iconic African-American musician Lionel Richie and his then-wife Brenda Harvey. "My parents were friends with Lionel," Richie told People Magazine in 2003. "They trusted that they would be better able to provide for me.” Not only is Nicole beautiful—and a great mom to her children Harlow and Sparrow—but she’s also an immensely talented comedienne who has cracked us up on shows like Saturday Night Live and The Simple Life. We’re waiting for her to land her own sitcom, but until then we’ll keep ourselves happy by watching the fashionista judge the reality competition, Fashion Star.
Miguel A. Nunez, 47
When he starred as an arrogant and cocky pro-basketball star in Juwanna Mann (2002), Dominicano Miguel A. Nunez, Jr made women everywhere weak in the knees with his million dollar smile and chiseled body.
Carmelo Anthony, 27
New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony is an Olympic Gold Medalist, and a five-time NBA All-Star, but it’s what the talented athlete does off the field that truly makes him beautiful. After growing up in Brooklyn’s Red Hook Projects (until he was 8) and living in Baltimore’s Pharmacy section—the dangerous setting of the HBO series, The Wire—Melo decided he wanted to give back to the Baltimore community. “Growing up I didn’t have anybody coming back in my neighborhood saying, ‘This is for you,’ and helping the neighborhood out, and now I’m in a situation where I can do that,” Melo has said. To that end, he founded the Carmelo Anthony Youth Development Center and has contributed $1.5 million to the Living Classrooms Foundation, which helps thousands of children and young adults in Baltimore. He is also known for purchasing tickets to every home game for less fortunate families and he ranked No. 8 on the Giving Back 30 list of largest charitable celebrity donations for 2006, for giving away $4.28 million.
Rick Gonzalez, 32
Everyone knows funny guys are sexy, and few guys have a great sense of humor like actor Rick Gonzalez. The Dominican and Puerto Rican actor, who is best known for his role as “Spanish” in the hit 2003 comedy Old School—(alongside Will Ferrell), brings irreverent humor to every role he takes!
Gina Torres, 43
This talented Afro-Cubana has had starring roles on several sci-fi TV shows including, FlashForward, Alias, Serenity and Dark Angel—and we love that Gina always plays strong, confident women who aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo. Torres also appeared in two of the Matrix films (The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions), and played Chris Rock’s significant other in the comedy, I Think I Love My Wife. It was during filming The Matrix Reloaded that the Afro-Latina star met her now husband, Laurence Fishburne.
Victor Cruz, 25
The half-Black, half-Puerto Rican wide receiver—who helped lead the New York Giants to a Super Bowl win two weeks ago—is known for salsa dancing after a touchdown. But what we love most about the sexy athlete is that he credits his Puerto Rican mother with his success. “She was sacrificing things for me that no other person would do,” Cruz has said. “I always give her all the credit. Without her I don't think I would be here right now.” Que lindo!
Tyson Beckford, 41
One of the first famous male models on the planet, Tyson Beckford—who’s half-Jamaican and half Afro-Panamanian—made women across American swoon. The gorgeous Afro-Latino hunk—who was named “Man of the Year” in 1995 by VH1 and one of the “50 Most Beautiful People in the World” by People Magazine—went on to host TV shows, including two seasons of the Bravo program, Make Me a Supermodel.
Christina Milian, 30
Christina Milian is best known for her role in the movie Love Don’t Cost A Thing (2003), and hit singles like “AM to PM” and “Dip It Low,” but she’s also a strong Afro-Latina who survived a very public breakup from her husband The-Dream with grace and class and stayed strong to raise her daughter, Violet. The single mom is set to join fellow Latina Christina Aguilera on NBC’s hit singing competition, The Voice as a social media correspondent in the spring.
Britney Spears’ Latina protégé Sabi is best known for the song “You Make Me Feel”—which she recorded with the synth-pop band, Cobra Starship earlier this year. The daughter of a Salvadorian mother and an African American father, Sabi is a style-siren with beautiful curly hair, gorgeous skin, massive sex appeal and undeniable talent as a songwriter, singer, and rapper. We can’t wait to see what she has in store for us in 2012!
Kid Cudi, 28
Kid Cudi (AKA Scott Ramon Seguro Mescudi) is a hip-hop recording artist, a singer-songwriter and one of the stars of HBO’s hit series How to Make It In America. As Domingo Brown, a dog-walking, freelance weed dealer on the hit HBO show, Cudi has been stealing scenes from actors who have had years more training than he has. It’s safe to say this singer/actor—who is half-Mexican—is following in Justin Timberlake’s footsteps.
Yaya Dacosta, 28
Best known as the runner-up on the third season of the hit reality competition America’s Next Top Model (2004), Yaya Dacosta has lately been making a name for herself as a serious Hollywood actress. The multi-ethnic Dacosta (of Brazilian, West African, and Native American descent), was immensely likeable as Tanya, Mark Ruffalo’s sexy, foul-mouthed lover in last year’s Oscar-nominated film The Kids Are all Right, and this fall, she starred opposite Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried in the sci-fi thriller, In Time. Dacosta isn’t just another pretty face—she’s also highly intelligent and has a degree in African Studies and International Relations from Brown University.
Taio Cruz, 28
The part-Brazilian, part Nigerian Taio Cruz makes music that gets us all up on our feet dancing, including his hit singles, “Higher” (ft. Kylie Minogue and Travie McCoy) and “Break Your Heart” (ft. Ludacris).
Judy Reyes, 44
There’s never been a more endearing relationship between a Latina TV character and an African American TV character, than the relationship between Carla Espinoza (Judy Reyes) and Turk (Donald Faison) on the long-running comedy, Scrubs. Much of the humor on the show stemmed from Turk’s inability to understand Carla’s Dominican culture—but in real life, Reyes—who’s Dominican and Black—loves both sides of her equally. And we love her!
J August Richards, 38
J August Richards (AKA Jaime Augusto Richards) is a Panamanian actor best known for playing Charles Gunn—the leader of a street gang which protects its neighborhood from vampires, who later becomes an ally of Angels' (David Boreanaz)— on the hit WB series, Angel. August is one of the most popular characters in Buffyverse and we can see why: he’s sexy and talented!
Amauary Nolasco, 41
He may have dressed up as a woman for the gender-bending ABC comedy Work It, but Amaury Nolasco is all man! The Puerto Rican actor, who is perhaps best known for his role as inmate Fernando Sucre on FOX’s hit show Prison Break, has guns for arms, a mouth full of pearly whites and an infectious smile that matches the sweet and genuine guy he is. We can’t help but love this sexy Afro-Latino!
Bruno Mars, 25
We want to date Bruno Mars so freaking bad! The half-Puerto Rican singer (born Peter Gene Hernandez), has a devilishly sexy smile, big beautiful eyes, and rocks a fedora better than anyone in Hollywood. And while many of his songs are about touchy-feely things like love, relationships and broken hearts, deep down Bruno is a badass. What's sexier than a talented bad boy?
Don Omar, 34
Who’s cooler than Don Omar? The Puerto Rican reggaeton singer/rapper, and actor (who saw Fast & Furious?) is easily one of the most likeable Afro-Latinos on the planet. No wonder they call him El Rey!
Dania Ramirez, 32
Ramirez is hands down one of the sexiest actresses in Hollywood! The Dominican actress has a rock-hard body, a gorgeous smile and flawless skin—the icing on the cake is that she’s also one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet. Although she’s best known for her sexy roles on HBO’s hit series Entourage and The Sopranos, if you ask us, Dania’s most important role is her role as the face of Covergirl Cosmetics—because in that role, she inspires other young Afro-Latinas to embrace their beauty and reach for their dreams.
Tristan Wilds, 22
This half-Dominican, half-Black actor made our list of the 25 Most Beautiful Latino Stars Under 25 in 2011 and with the year that he’s had (his film Red Tails raked in big bucks at the box office & his CW series 90210 is still going strong in its 4th season), there’s no way we could leave Tristan off this list! Wilds, who has a beautiful smile of pearly whites and a great set of dimples, should be really proud of his accomplishments, especially because he had to fight not to be stereotyped in roles. “I get offered a lot of black roles, because apparently I don’t look Latino enough,” he told the NY Daily News in 2008.
Matt Cedeño, 37
This hunky half-Afro-Cuban actor (and former fashion model) is best known for his role as Brandon Walker (Sami Brady's husband) on the long running soap, Days of Our Lives. Matt's got six pack abs, rock-hard pecs and huge gorgeous lips.
Philip Anthony-Rodriguez, 40
Philip Anthony Rodriguez, the Puerto Rican actor who plays Francia Raisa’s dad Ruben Enriquez on ABC Family’s hit show The Secret Life of the American Teenager is one sexy DILF! His trademark? Those beautiful green eyes, of course! “I’ve never been top 25 anything, so this is pretty awesome,” Rodriguez wrote us in an email. “I love you Latina magazine...Muchisimas Gracias!"
If we ever need to call on Angels to come down from Heaven, we can use the voice of soulful musician Maxwell. The part-Puerto Rican singer’s gorgeous voice—especially on his cover of Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work” and his single “Fortunate,” isn’t only exceptional. It’s also one-of-a-kind. It’s quite possible that Maxwell (born Gerald Maxwell Rivera) owes some of his silky smooth style to being half Boricua. Just don’t try to put him in a box: “I’m really multicultural,” he told Time magazine last year. “My mom is from Haiti. My dad’s from Puerto Rico. I was born in Brooklyn. I read Proust. Your heritage is your heritage, but your soul is truly who you are.” And we know he has plenty of soul!
Brooklyn-bred rapper John “Fabolous” Jackson “Can’t Deny It”—as his first hit single was called back in 2001—that he’s half Dominican on his father’s side. And we can’t deny that we LOVE his music—especially his hit single “Breathe."
Syesha Mercado, 24
Every time she took the stage on American Idol’s seventh season, Syesha Mercado looked stunning—she had a million dollar smile that seemed like a great fit for a Colgate commercial, flawless skin, and eyes that could not be ignored. And she sounded ever better! It’s no wonder the half-Puerto Rican singer finished in third place—behind David Archuleta and David Cook—on the hit FOX show.
Joan Smalls, 22
Joan Smalls rose to fame when she was chosen to walk exclusively for Givenchy’s Fall 2010 couture show in Paris. Since then, the Afro-Latina model (who hails from the small Puerto Rican town of Hatillo) has walked the runway for everyone from Marc Jacobs to Gucci. Knowing full well that there are millions of beautiful Afro-Latinas in the world, Estée Lauder Global Brand President Jane Hertzmark explained why they selected Joan to be their new face. “We are thrilled to introduce Joan to women around the world. She truly reflects Estée Lauder’s modern vision of global beauty.” We couldn’t agree more!
Victor Rasuk, 28
The Dominican actor, who is best known for his work in the 2002 indie Raising Victor Vargas, recently starred as Cam Calderon—an ambitious young designer trying to make it in the big apple—in HBO’s hit series, How To Make It In America. Down to earth and authentic, it’s easy to shoot the breeze with Victor.
Swizz Beatz, 33
Swizz Beatz is a man of many talents: he’s a record producer, a DJ, a rapper, a painter, and a fashion designer. The talented Boricua is also married to Alicia Keys and has a baby with the singer (Egypt Daoud Ibarr Dean).
Javier Colon, 33
When part-Dominican, part-Puerto Rican singer Javier Colon showed up on NBC's The Voice last season, we swooned. His performances of "Time After Time," "Angel," and "Fix You" were music to our ears. He's also easy on the eyes!
Tatyana Ali, 32
She was Ashley Banks, the little girl with the infectious smile on the 90s sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and now, Tatyana Ali is an inspiring Afro-Latina who’s all grown up. After earning a bachelor’s degree in political science from Harvard University, the half-Panamanian actress pulled double duty as the star and executive producer of two TV shows: the BET series, Buppies (2009), and Love That Girl, a new series which airs on TV One.