Despite the booming Hispanic population, Latinos remain underrepresented in media — on TV and on film. However, a dedicated few Latinas have made it their mission to bring more diversity to our small screens.
From Eva Longoria to Soledad O'Brien, these Latinas are changing the television landscape for Latinas:
1. Eva Longoria
Eva Longoria has come a long way since her days as Gabrielle Solis on Desperate Housewives. This busy mujer still acts... but she produces, directs, and more. As the executive producer of Devious Maids, Longoria gave viewers a television series that starred five Latina actresses — an unprecedented move in a media market where Latinos have just 4.2 percent of speaking roles on-screen. Longoria continued to work on behalf of Latinos in entertainment, and may even be starring in a Hispanic-focused NBC show, Telenovela, that follows the life of a novela star.
2. Soledad O'Brien
Soledad O'Brien might be best known for her work on CNN, HBO and Al Jazeera America, but this media mogul also owns her own company. Through her work at Starfish Media Group, O'Brien has given voice to the voiceless. Her newest documentary, The War Comes Home, follows two ex-soldiers who struggle to cope with PTSD, which manifests in suicidal thoughts, alcoholism, and rage. O'Brien has won an Emmy Award for her work on-screen, and she has truly used television as a medium to explore stories that remain underreported by traditional media.
3. Gina Rodriguez
Newcomer Gina Rodriguez has impressed her with her immense talent and work on behalf of the Latino community. When it comes to acting, the Jane The Virgin star prioritizes storytelling and her community above fame and fortune. "I didn't become an actress to be a millionaire. I didn't become an actor to wear Louis Vuitton," she said. "I became an actor to change the way I grew up."
This actress (who aspires to be the Latina Meryl Streep!) has also spoken out about the limiting stereotypes of Latinos that persist in Hollywood today. "I find it so interesting that in this industry, we want to divide," she said. "That's so limiting. I am not defined by the fact that my parents speak Spanish or that skin color is brown. I'm defined by my character, and my character is a strong woman that's independent, that's following her dreams, that wants love, that wants a family, that wants to succeed just like anybody else in this world."
4. Sofia Vergara
Love her or hate her, Sofia Vergara holds the title for highest paid woman on television for a reason. The Modern Family star pulls in more dollers per year than the highest paid man on television, Ashton Kutcher, and constantly asserts her comedic talent and business saavy on and off the screen. In addition to starring at Gloria Pritchett on the beloved comedy, Vergara co-founded LatinWe (Latin World Entertainment Holdings, Inc.), a go-to company for Hollywood producers on the hunt for Latino talent and Latino-themed television.
5. Kate del Castillo
From Weeds to La Reina del Sur, Kate del Castillo has made a splash on small screens on both sides of the border. This Mexicana knows how to flip stereotypes on their head — she can play the strong-willed narco lord or the naivë ex-girlfriend with equal empathy and understanding. She has earned the respect of Americans and Mexicans alike — and she has truly paved the way for actresses on both sides of the border.
6. Cristela Alonzo
This fall, Cristela Alonzo makes her mainstream debut on the ABC comedy she co-created and stars in — Cristela. This comedienne will become the first Latina to star in a television show which she also created, and Cristela will be the first Latino show with a Latino creator and star since The George Lopez Show and Ugly Betty went off the air.
7. Jennifer Lopez
Jennifer Lopez belongs on this list for her extraordinary work as executive producers on The Fosters. The show follows the lives of a same-sex, multiracial couple raising five children. Not only does the show question traditional ideas about the "nuclear family" but it also celebrates diversity with its incredible cast, including Latinos Cierra Ramirez, Jake T. Austin and David Lambert. Lopez earned numerous accolades for her work bringing diversity to TV, including the Ally for Equality Award from the Human Rights Campaign.