Every year from September 15 to October 15, we celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. Originally a week long, Hispanic Heritage Month expanded in 1988. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month I wanted to highlight some of my favorite Afro-Latina leading ladies and the cinematic moments that made me love them.
Irene Cara in Sparkle, 1976:
Before Jordin Sparks, there was Irene Cara. The Cuban and Puerto Rican actress, singer, and Oscar winner (she won Best Original Song Oscar for “What a Feeling” from Flashdance), made her film debut in 1975′s Aaron Loves Angela. But she garnered major attention for her title role in the original version of popular musical Sparkle.
Rosie Perez in Fearless, 1993:
Rosie Perez star danced her way into our hearts with her role as Tina in Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing. But for the Puerto Rican actress it was her Oscar nominated portrayal of Carla Rodrigo in the film Fearless that solidified her status as serious Hollywood contender. She was incredible in the role.
Stacey Dash in Clueless, 1995:
The eternally youthful Stacey Dash has tons of roles to her credit. But she will always be known to many as Dionne, the uber fashionable best friend in the iconic film Clueless. Fun fact, the actress who is of Bajan, African-American, and Mexican heritage was 28 years old when she portrayed 15 year old Dionne.
Rosario Dawson in Sin City, 2005:
Rosario Dawson made her film debut in the controversial film Kids in 1995. Since then, the Afro-Cuban and Puerto Rican star has appeared in several films, including 25th Hour and Rent. One of my faves is her portrayal of Gail in the film Sin City.
Zoe Saldana in Colombiana, 2011:
Zoe Saldana has tackled drama, comedy, fantasy, and sci-fi on the big screen. The Dominican star got her first leading role in the action film Colombiana. In the movie, she played Cataleya, an assassin who seeks to avenge the death of her parents.
What are some of your favorite Afro-Latina moments in film?