Selena Quintanilla is Latina Magazine's November 2016 Cover Star!


Selena Quintanilla, the eternal queen of our collective hearts, is our 20th anniversary cover star because her influence transcends age, ethnicity, and class. And, more important, she was all ours. #anythingforselenas


“We have to be more Mexican than the Mexicans and more American than the Americans, both at the same time. It’s exhausting!” goes an oft-quoted line from the movie Selena. But Selena rose above the identity struggle by not struggling at all. Instead she leaned into her Latina-ness and embraced whom she so gloriously was: an American-born, non-native-Spanish-speaking Latina who was curvy and brown, and loved both pizza and tacos.

In her all-too-short life, the charismatic Tejana proved to be the reigning queen of a male-dominated music genre few believed she could ever conquer. And along with her award-winning music, she owned a clothing store and was creating a beauty line, proving herself to be #theboss before the hashtag existed. Selena stands out as one of the most beloved Latinas of our generation — that’s why she’s the cover image for Latina’s 20th anniversary — transcending age and background to be revered by millennials, old folks, and celebs alike. Selena Gomez is named after her, and Jennifer Lopez is famous because of her. So why the near sainthood status?

Why the adoration of a young Tejana who sang regional Mexican music? Because Selena was unshakably real, unabashedly herself. Unlike other Latino stars who made it big in music or Hollywood by modifying their names and “passing” as white, Selena went the other route. She turned to her culture first, rediscovering her roots to find her voz. And through her powerful voice, we American Latinas found ours.Robyn Moreno, Editorial Director



ALL WE EVER WANTED WAS TO SEE OURSELVES. Yet if you were a little Latina girl with immigrant parents or roots in the United States centuries before it was riddled with Starbucks, growing up in the ’80s and ’90s you were invisible to mainstream culture. But everything changed in the summer of 1996, when Latina magazine first hit newsstands with its cover image of the pre-Selena Jennifer Lopez rocking her hair in a moño like so many of us in any barrio. Latina, the thought bomb of Christy Haubegger, was a pioneering force. You see, we weren’t catering to your mami or abuela by peddling the latest telenovela hunks or speaking to you in the mother language. We used English and Spanglish to talk to the celebrities (Rosie Perez, Rosario Dawson, Christina Aguilera) who were just like you. And for a celebrity to land the cover of a magazine for us, by us, meant and still means acceptance and support by our people. With that said, our editorial team deliberated for hours upon hours, over glasses of Chilean wine and a few tequila shots, to present to you the 20 most impactful, influential Latina covers ever. Through our covers we helped J.Lo become a queen, Shakira cross over, and Pitbull gain world domination; we’ve also lamented the losses of our reinas (Selena and Jenni Rivera) and cheered for the brilliant Sonia Sotomayor. Point being, after 20 years, we’re still fighting to tell your stories in this game-changing magazine; across our booming site,; and crackling through our social media platforms. We’re not invisible anymore. We’re here. We’re proud. And we’re ready for the world to see our influence. —Latina editors

1. Jennifer Lopez, Summer 1996

“When Hollywood starts considering me for roles where ethnic background doesn’t matter, that’s an even bigger step in the right direction for me.”—Jennifer Lopez, Summer 1996 

Outspoken, fearless, ambitious, J.Lo was only 25 when she shot her (and our) first cover, and she was a breath of fresh air. In a world of tight-lipped, media-trained celebs, Lopez dished on her feud with Rosie Perez on the set of In Living Color (“She was demanding on purpose, to the point where it wasn’t fair.”) and opened up about a fresh breakup with her longtime boyfriend (“He got insecure because I did love scenes with powerful men with lots of money.”). On the verge of becoming a superstar, the proud Bronx puertorriqueña said she was “being considered” for Selena, her mom still lived on “the block,” and she was cleaning her own toilet in the L.A. apartment she was renting. But Lopez had her heart set on bigger goals. As did Latina. And here we are, still marching ahead, 20 years later. –CORINNE GRIFFTH COLE

2. Gloria Estefan, December 1997

“All of my life I have questioned, questioned, questioned. At this point I feel all of my questions have been answered. I would ask, why is there suffering, why are there these rules, why is there religion, who is God, who am I? But every day I have more faith, and faith is the answer to all of those questions.”—Gloria Estefan, December 1997

Resiliency. Is there a better word for Gloria Estefan? The electrifying cubana performer helped raise her sister and care for her ailing veteran father while attending school. With the Miami Sound Machine, she fought to be recognized as more than just a Latin act, finding worldwide success with the band’s hit single “Conga.” A tour bus accident in 1990 nearly killed her, but she pushed through paralysis and made a triumphant comeback at the American Music Awards in 1991. Since then, Estefan has become a Grammy Awards perennial, helped jump-start the careers of Shakira and other Latin stars, and been honored with a Presidential Medal of Freedom. It’s the stuff of Broadway theater, literally: On Your Feet!, the hit musical about the Estefan phenomenon, opened last fall. –PRISCILLA RODRIGUEZ

3. Salma Hayek (July 1999)

In a weird way, I enjoy the torment of pushing myself to be better. I enjoy the thought process and the physical process and the exhaustion of hard work.—Salma Hayek, July 1999

She was then 33 years old, making the transition from Mexican telenovela star to Hollywood actress and producer, and most of Salma Hayek’s glorious career still lay ahead when Latina first featured her on the cover in 1999. Since then, her fearless, creative, and compassionate nature has triumphed in such diverse works as Frida (which earned her an Oscar nod as Best Actress) and Ugly Betty, which she executive-produced and costarred in. Most admirably of all, she has been a fighter for human rights and for those in need around the world, working in Mother Teresa’s Calcutta hospice and fighting AIDS in Nicaragua, among many other initiatives. She knows that the hard work she puts in for others’ benefit, not just her own, is the greatest glory of all. –JAMIE KATZ

4. Christina Aguilera (December 1999)

We come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. A lot of my fans are young girls, and they go, ‘You’re someone young Latin girls can look up to,’ because there really aren’t many.—Christina Aguilera, December 1999

Mere months removed from her breakthrough single, “Genie in a Bottle,” the 19-year-old Aguilera already understood the responsibility her platinum vocal cords carried. She embraced the role quickly by delivering her first Spanish-language album, Mi Reflejo, in 2000. With each subsequent album (more than 50 million sold) and Grammy win (four in total), the Ecuadorian American diva confirmed her status as our generation’s most shining voice. She was Adele before Adele, and she was all ours. –JESUS TRIVINO

5. Sofía Vergara (March 2001)

“I work to support my family. I’m not the woman who appears in the calendar. This is me. People who know me know I’m very ordinary. You may see a very sexy woman. Maybe I’m like that, but not on purpose. I don’t think about it much.”—Sofía Vergara, March 2001

In 2001, the Colombian bombshell wasn’t the household name she would become — well, at least, in English-language households. Vergara’s run as the face of Univision was at its apex, and her assets were all the rage on something people called “World Wide Web.” After various failed attempts to cross over, she struck gold as Gloria on ABC’s monster hit Modern Family, which garnered Vergara four Emmy nominations. She also holds the title of the highest paid TV actress since in 2012 and her success enabled her to cocreate her talent management firm, Latin WE. Vergara is the epitome of Never Give Up. –JESUS TRIVINO

6. Shakira (February 2003)

 “On top of being an artist and an entertainer, I very much identify with the role of being a communicator. And it’s very important to me to do this through my music, because there’s always a message behind what I do. It’s both a blessing and power, and you have to know how to wield that power.”—Shakira, February 2003

If Ricky Martin is Mr. Crossover, then Shakira is Ms. Crossover. Some would argue that Shak has now eclipsed her Puerto Rican counterpart with her artistic longevity and impact on global culture. And they’d probably win the argument. In 2003, two years removed from when she compared her breasts to mountains (on Laundry Service), Shakira was cognizant of her poder and was willing to use it for the betterment of her people. Her Pies Descalzos Foundation provides aid and education to impoverished children in her native Colombia. Rockera done good. –JESUS TRIVINO

7. Ricky Martin, July 2003

“I was receiving the applause. I was receiving the recognition. But I was losing my soul, my identity, my personality.”—Ricky Martin, July 2003

He was an irresistible heartthrob, a global phenomenon who was living la vida loca with more than 40 million records sold worldwide in 2003 alone. But Ricky Martin wasn’t happy — until his coming out. The Puerto Rican star, who led the Latin music boom in the late ’90s/early 2000s, quickly became a voice not only for Latinos but for the LGBT community as well. Martin’s decision became a powerful message — in order to live your best life, you have to be yourself. – PRISCILLA RODRIGUEZ

8. Selena, March 2005

“Sometimes I forget that Selena is not here anymore. We talk so much about her; we see her presence everywhere. It’s like she’s still alive.”—Abraham Quintanilla, father of Selena, March 2005

In her short 23 years, Selena Quintanilla created a saga that captivates and haunts us to this day. Before she was murdered in 1995, the magnetic Tejana shattered the glass ceiling, reigning as queen of a male-dominated genre few believed she could ever conquer. Her legend lives on as a new generation discovers her music (and the film Selena, with Jennifer Lopez). With a wax figure at Madame Tussauds, a dedicated MAC makeup collection, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame expected in 2017, Selena’s fame continues to extend beyond the Latino community. Just as Mr. Quintanilla said 10 years after his daughter’s death, it’s as though she was never taken from us. – PRISCILLA RODRIGUEZ

9. Eva Longoria (December 2005/January 2006)

“Mexican Americans are a very selfless society; it’s our nature to help neighbors, colleagues, [and] friends.” —Eva Longoria, December 2005/January 2006

Those words certainly contradicted the image of the scheming Desperate Housewife many of us first met on TV’s Wisteria Lane.  But as Eva Longoria was riding to fame and wealth as a successful Hollywood actress and business entrepreneur, we learned that this proud, ninth-generation Tejana meant what exactly she said in Latina about helping others, stepping forward as an active force in philanthropic and political causes. Among many other activities, she created the Eva Longoria Foundation to support education and anti-poverty efforts, cofounded the Latino Victory Project to nurture future leaders and addressed the Democratic National Convention in both 2012 and 2016. We think she’s just getting started. –JAMIE KATZ

10. America Ferrera (March 2007)

“You just loved [Betty] because of her eternal optimism. She did not want to be pitied; she did not pity herself. Everything she took with a little sense of humor. She had dignity.”—America Ferrera, March 2007

Latina nerds unite. Before there was Jane Villanueva, we tuned in weekly to root for Betty Suarez. Through Ugly Betty’s go-getter spirit and super-relatable Jackson Heights, New York, family, America Ferrera became the “it” girl of the everyday girl. In her March 2007 cover story, the critically acclaimed actress and Golden Globe Award winner discussed her rising career, her future aspirations, and her fabulous mentor, Salma Hayek. A decade later, Ferrera still has the ability to make us say “That’s so me!” –JADA GOMEZ

11. Jessica Alba (March 2008)

“I want to empower young women like me to make moves and fulfill their dreams, not just in entertainment but in anything. I hope I can inspire somebody to get focused on what they want out of life instead of just taking what’s given to them.”—Jessica Alba, March 2008

Who knew that Nancy from Sin City would change the whole chemical-free consumer products game with The Honest Company? No one. But everybody does know that necessity is the mother of invention, and as fate would have it, when Jessica Alba was pregnant with her oldest daughter, she washed some baby clothes and had an allergic reaction to the detergent. The rest of us would have popped a Benadryl and switched soaps. But Alba, who was prone to sickness as a child, launched a mission-based business so that the rest of us can enjoy non-toxic bath and body goodies, laundry products, and makeup.  —TAIIA SMART YOUNG

12. Selena Gomez, April 2009

“It’s pretty neat to be Mexican. And there aren’t enough Latinas in Hollywood—or there are, but they don’t get the recognition. So to be able to come out here and use that, it’s really a powerful thing.”Selena Gomez, April 2009

Before she called Justin Bieber her boo, claimed a spot in Taylor Swift’s #squad, and became the most followed person in the world on social media, Selena was a Disney star trying to launch a pop career. Less than a decade later, the Texas-born star named after Selena Quintanilla (prophetic, no?) tops album charts; sells out tours; and shows a sexier, all-grown-up side — see her latest album cover for which she posed nude, plus charged song lyrics such as “can’t keep my hands to myself.” Adios, Mickey Mouse! —CORINNE GRIFFTH COLE

13. Zoë Saldana (June/July 2009)

“I want that golden statue on my shelf. Whether it happens or not, it will not determine the kind of substance that I feel I contributed. But I want it. Why not, coño? Shoot for the stars and I’ll settle for a cloud.” —Zoë Saldana (June/July 2009)

Zoë Saldana keeps a blockbuster on her résumé — peep the IMDb credits, if you’re a nonbeliever. Avatar. Star Trek. Guardians of the Galaxy. Oh, and she’s gorgeous in a way that would prompt casting directors to stick her opposite any leading man to make him look good. But this dominicana is too talented, too smart and too confident in her skin to be a trophy girlfriend. Saldana continues to surprise us and elevate her craft with star turns in Rosemary’s Baby, Nina, and I Kill Giants, but these days she’s mastering her most challenging role yet — as the mother to twin boys Cy and Bowie. —TAIIA SMART YOUNG

14. Sonia Sotomayor (December 2009/ January 2010)

The Latina in me is an ember that blazes forever." – Sonia Sotomayor (December 2009/ January 2010)

An interview with Sonia Sotomayor is rare. So we learned about the first Latina Supreme Court justice—a brilliant woman who stayed true to her Bronx barrio roots—through the lens of someone who knew her back when: former Latina editor-in-chief Sandra Guzmán. “A family friend, Sotomayor’s Cardinal Spellman High School photo sat prominently on my abuela’s television stand,” Guzman wrote. “I was told that ‘smart women can do incredible things.’” Justice Sotomayor, she said, is living proof of the power of the two words that are her mantra: “I can.” –JADA GOMEZ

15. Pitbull, June/July 2011

“I’m not here to exploit our culture — I’m here to empower it, and I want to build a brand, like Jennifer [Lopez].”Pitbull, June/July 2011

Mr. 305 became Worldwide with his global domination of the music market. But it has been his ability to make Latin music “cool” and accepted by people from all walks of life that has made Pitbull (né Armando Christian Pérez) a prominent voice of our culture. He has collaborated with everyone from Ne-Yo to Brazilian superstar Claudia Leitte and has succeeded in branding himself with product endorsements, his own channel on Sirius XM radio, a fragrance line, and a New Year’s Eve special on Fox—Pitbull’s New Year’s Revolution. Beyond that, he has sponsored a charter school, SLAM (Sports Leadership and Management Academy) on his home ground in Miami’s Little Havana, as well as in Henderson, Nevada. Kids are flocking to them. –PRISCILLA RODRIGUEZ

16. Daisy Fuentes (October 2011)

“I’m frijoles negros meets apple pie…I always thought of it as I have a whole other language I can do this in. A whole other culture I can bring to the table.”  —Daisy Fuentes (October 2011)

Daisy Fuentes was one of 15 Latinas who donned stunning red dresses for our 15th-anniversary cover, striking a pose with Selena Gomez, Rosie Perez, and La La Anthony, among others. It may have been too much beauty for one page, too much poder for your mailbox, too much crimson for the naked eye, but it had to be done for two reasons. One: To remind us that we share roots and an unbreakable bond with role models (America Ferrara), activists (Salma Hayek), and legends (Gloria Estefan). Two: To celebrate women who’ve accomplished feats others thought were impossible. –TAIIA SMART YOUNG

17. Jenni Rivera (March 2013)

“What I really love is to feel that I’m a good mother. That I cook for them, that I’m with them, that I tend for my children. I’m very loving. They’re my babies.” —Jenni Rivera (March 2013, quoted from 2011)

We were shattered when Jenni Rivera’s plane crashed in northeastern Mexico on December 9, 2012. She was humbly born in Long Beach, Calif., to undocumented Mexican immigrants, and her talents and passion touched fans deeply. They responded by anointing her “La Diva de la Banda” — a huge multinational star whose net worth was estimated at $300 million in 2014. Yet for all her many roles — singer, composer, radio and TV personality, author, entrepreneur, and philanthropist — the one that mattered most to her was madre — to her own children, and spiritually, to millions of us. –JAMIE KATZ

18. Romeo Santos (June/July 2014)

“When I wrote poems, I could say things I wouldn’t dare say to a woman, because perhaps I didn’t have the courage to, or maybe I was too shy,” he says, adding that the same is true of the songs he writes now.—Romeo Santos (June/July 2014)

Romeo is our man in every sense of the word. The former lead singer of Aventura is easily the biggest star in Latin music for the past five years with more than 5 billion views on YouTube. His lust-worthy lyrics and god-like Dominican and Puerto Rican features created the myth. Two leg-quivering performances at a sold-out Yankee Stadium in July 2014 created the legend. –JESUS TRIVINO

19. Gina Rodriguez (March 2015)

“My dad used to say, ‘Insecurity is the ugliest dress on a woman.’ There’s no Photoshop for that! But that’s what I think we have to instill—work on your character, on your skill, on what you bring to the table. That’s how we represent.”—Gina Rodriguez (March 2015)

The stars definitely aligned for Gina Rodriguez’s first Latina cover story, which also happened to be her first national magazine cover ever. The cover was unveiled just two weeks after her Golden Globe win for Best Actress in a TV Series, Musical or Comedy (for Jane the Virgin), and the Chi-Town boricua announced to the world, I’m here and I’m for my people. We know talent when we see it. –JESUS TRIVINO

20. Demi Lovato (June/July 2016)

“I don’t care about radio hits. When you try hard for that, it doesn’t happen. And I have yet to reach my peak, and my voice is better now than it was a year ago. Now I can show people what I can do.”—Demi Lovato (June/July 2016)

Teenyboppers come and go — but true artists will always shine through. Demi Lovato — she of Disney roots and Selena Gomez BFF-nes — is the latter. Beyond her blossoming artistry, powerful voice, and authenticity with her fans, Lovato’s past obstacles — drug addiction, depression — have molded her into the pop star millennials need right now.  –JESUS TRIVINO