It’s always inspiring when people proudly celebrate who they are and clearly feel comfortable in their skin — it gives everyone else the confidence to do the same. It’s important when famous Latinas embrace their roots because, in Hollywood, Black and Latinos are significantly underrepresented, and seeing proud Latinas showcase where they come from lifts up the entire Latinx community.
Seeing these influential Latinas proudly flaunt where they come from is the refreshing wake-up call that we all need. From Cardi B to America Ferrera to Julissa Calderon, these Latina leaders and famous faces show the world that being a Latina is something to acknowledge and something to celebrate.
We all know Cardi B isn’t one to keep her thoughts to herself. Outspoken and unapologetic, this Grammy-winning rapper is always proudly making sure that her voice is heard, and that also applies to her Afro-Latina roots. Cardi B was raised in the Bronx by her Dominican father and Trinidadian mother, and she is the first to put people in their place when they question her ethnicity and background. “One thing that always bothers me is that people know so little about my culture. We are Caribbean people,” Cardi said in a 2018 interview with Zendaya for CR Fashion Book.
Recently, she took to Instagram to make it quite clear that others should stop speaking out of turn about her ancestry, sharing photos of her aunts, uncles, and grandmothers to defend her Afro-Latina roots. To really put her money where her mouth is, Cardi is also coming out with a line of hair care products for Afro-Latina hair.
“I think [it is] time for people to educate themselves on nationality, race, and ethnicity…People [are] thinking every Hispanic is Mexican or something and must have the same hair texture, color, and features,” she told The Guardian. “Being Hispanic/Latina doesn’t make your hair long, don’t make your skin light [and] don’t make your face features slim especially [if you come from] Latin countries from the Caribbean islands … DNA has something to do with your hair, not your nationality.”
This Miami-raised Dominican star of the Netflix hit show Gentefied is on a mission to lift up the next generation of Latinas. “Saying that I’m a Latina leader is such a crazy statement. That’s not what I envisioned being called when I began pursuing this career, but I’ll gladly take that title,” she told Hispanic Executive. “Being a leader and role model means so much. I get to be to the masses who I have always wanted to see.”
She owns who she is and where she comes from, including her imperfections. “I’d like to think of myself as someone young girls can follow and get some kind of blueprint from,” Calderon adds. “I’m not perfect, never will be, but I am authentic and hold myself to high standards and morals—that’s what I want the next generation to see and to follow. I hope to continue to pave the way and do as much as I can for the Latino community. If I were to put my trust in anyone to uplift and push the community forward, I know I can bet on myself to do it.”
This Emmy-nominated Pose actor is proud to be an Afro-Latina. Born to an African American mother and a father who is half Puerto Rican, half African American, Rodriguez has always been open about being proud of who she is and where she comes from. As a trans actress of color and the first transgender performer to pick up an Emmy nomination in a major acting category, MJ sets an example for all minorities and stands up for all diverse groups, especially for trans people of color in Hollywood.
“The Television Academy can show love and support to our experience by opening the door to marginalized groups and letting us have a seat at the table, recognizing the hard work that many diverse groups of people have fought hard for and acknowledging the art and the talent,” she wrote in a piece for the Emmys. “Our world and the people in it are changing every day, and I believe the Academy has the power to change—and make change as well.”
This Latina actress, known for her breakthrough roles on Orange Is the New Black and Jane the Virgin, once struggled with an identity crisis. Born in America and raised by her Colombian parents, Guerrero admits she felt torn between her two cultures and wasn’t American or Latina enough for either community. “The sad thing growing up was feeling like you had to choose one [culture] and that you weren’t enough for either one,” she told NBC News.
After working through her personal experiences as a Latina in Hollywood, Guerrero is now dedicated to encouraging other young people to “embrace the gray area” and stop trying to fit into a rigid mold that society deems appropriate for cross-cultured individuals. It’s not necessary to try and fit into one box. Because “the more boxes you fit into, the safer you are because, the more people you can connect with, the more people you have in your corner, the more people understand you, or you can understand them,” she said. And in the end, her message is pretty straightforward and never needed more — “Love yourself no matter who you are or where you come from.”
Known for her lovable roles on TV and the big screen, including Real Women Have Curves, Ugly Betty, Superstore, and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, America Ferrera is certainly a Latina powerhouse. But she’s so much more than her Hollywood roles — she’s also a producer, activist, author, and entrepreneur. She’s proud of where she comes from and even more dedicated to helping other Latinas embrace their roots. “You want to honor your roots and your past, but you also want to burst at the seams and grow into something new. That inner struggle is something I so relate to, being the daughter of immigrants,” she told People en Español.
Now, she is on a mission to lift up other Latinas by creating opportunities for people of color both on and behind the screen, as well as by her involvement in Voto Latino, a grassroots political organization focused on educating and empowering a new generation of Latinx voters. And through her new book entitled American Like Me, Ferrera shares first-person accounts from prominent figures about the experience of growing up between cultures.