As we conclude this hopeful year, let’s take the time to highlight the Latina powerhouses — also known as the chingonas — of 2021! These important, intelligent, ambitious, and courageous women not only broke barriers for themselves but, in doing so, continue to inspire their Latinx community to achieve their own goals. It’s a beautiful cycle!
Of course, we are aware there are so many Latina powerhouses globally, but here are the ten we kept an eye on all year long.
Carla Morrison is one of the most modern, talented songbirds of our generation. This year she returned to the public eye after taking her time away to focus on her mental health. In her mental health break, she lived in Paris, where she learned how to take time for herself.
“I was going at full speed, and from the moment I arrived, everything slowed down. In that slowness, I could see all that I had to resolve inside me, all that I had left unattended. Life takes time, things take time, and enjoying the journey is better than finally arriving at the destination. One focuses so much on the result that one does not enjoy what one is understanding and learning along the journey,” Morrison shared on an Instagram post. She also created her “Martes de Ansiedad” Instagram Live series, where she shares personal tips on easing anxiety.
The Puerto-Rican actress, producer, dancer, and singer was celebrated this year with her documentary Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It. She endured so much pain, racism, and obstacles throughout her 70-year career — I mean, you could just imagine the amount of this in the 1950’s Hollywood (traumatic) scene. All of what she has gone through and what she still encounters today is what has made her iconic. “I think some people would say I was tough. I think it’s resilience because if I’m tough, there’s a part of me then that’s become hard. It’s simply not in my nature,” she told CBS News. Resilience is everything.
Earlier this year, Anya Taylor-Joy became the first Latina to win the Golden Globe Award for “Best Actress in a Limited Series, Anthology Series, or a Motion Picture Made for Television” for her lead role in The Queen’s Gambit. Taylor-Joy’s unique look turns heads as it is, but her charismatic acting is what makes her roles memorable. Her win is certainly an encouragement for all the emerging and Latinx actresses everywhere!
We all know that Cardi B is outspoken. She can speak out about problems that she faces and that she knows others could resonate with. Among other issues, such as her personal experience with the lack of fair pay, she also spoke about the colorism in Miami at the Art Basel 2021. The social media video showed Cardi B asking the bouncers to let black women inside the club, and although the club says that the video was taken out of context, it shines a light on the racism that is always present. “Y’all gonna let the Black women in here!” Cardi B demands on the video that went viral. Being an advocate for such important issues that she faces as an Afro-Latina is why she is one of the powerhouses we admire.
We have mentioned the superb Salma Hayek before, but there was no way to let her out of this year’s list. From the start, we know that Hayek gives her all in every acting role she lands — but this year, with Eternals, she has reached a personal milestone. This milestone was being able to represent a brown superhero in such a massive franchise. “I saw my brown face…I saw my brown face in a superhero suit, and in seeing my face, I saw your face. I saw my face as a little girl who had to have a lot of courage to dream big. I saw the face of all the little girls… and I realized that a door had opened where I didn’t enter alone – but inside that suit were all the Latinos who waited so long for this moment,” she told Despierta America (translated by Buzzfeed). Representation matters!
La bichota is a chingona in the music space for reggaeton enthusiasts. Apart from performing a United States nationwide tour, she also brought her “Bichota” tour to her hometown, Medellin, where she performed twice at the Estadio Atanasio in front of more than 40,000 fans. ISheighlighted emerging Colombian acts in both shows and gave odes to classics. Karol G is one of the few Latin pop stars transparent with their triumphs, heartbreaks, and that keeps dedicating her all to their fanbase. Cheers to her!
America Ferrera has been one of the lead Latinx actresses in Hollywood, breaking barriers for our people. From her roles on Ugly Betty, Real Women Have Curves and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. This year, she achieved another milestone in her career, being the executive producer and director for the Netflix series comedy-drama Gentefied. It was also announced that she would be making her full-length director debut for the upcoming Netflix adaptation of the novel I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter.
AOC stays on headlines with her facial expressions that I wish had subtitles of her thoughts. She has such a powerful voice among Democrats that I hope one day could be 100% heard. In 2021, her accomplishments include free tutoring via the program Homework Helpers, helping with pay raises in the Bronx, launching vaccine assistance and accessibility in four different languages, and the list goes on. She is truly a remarkable role model in the political space.
The Mojave and Latina poet and professor became the first Latina to win a Pulitzer Prize in poetry. “Postcolonial Love Poem focuses on the colonial violence faced by Native Americans but also navigates desire, pleasure, and the Native experience,” BELatina News reported earlier this year. Both the Mojave and Latin representation is such a double-win in this prestigious award, which made her one of our powerhouses this year.
Last but not least, we had to shine a light on our Latinas in STEM, making moves in their field. This year, Diana Trujillo, along with two other Latina engineers that work at NASA, was “honored as the 2021 recipients of STEM Awards from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation for their significant roles in the agency’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission,” according to NASA’s website. What. A. Queen.