Hispanic Heritage Month begins today (September 15) and carries on throughout the month until October 15. Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month each year by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from across the globe.
The national holiday was first observed in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson and was later expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to celebrate throughout the entire month beginning on the 15th. The day of September 15 is particularly significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile also celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Other holidays such as Columbus Day or Día de la Raza fall within the 30 day period on October 12.
Today, we honor the Hispanic entertainers who have contributed to the television and film industries in their various roles onscreen. Minorities are still gravely marginalized in entertainment, making up a small percentage of actors in the top U.S. films. According to Bloomberg’s findings, Hispanic or Latino characters make up only 5% in the top U.S. films.
Though Hispanics are one of the largest minority groups in the U.S., somehow the group is one of the most under-represented in Hollywood according to a new study of the 1,300 highest grossing films in the last 13 years.
An analysis conducted by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California finds that Hispanic and Latino actors were entirely absent from over a third of the best performing movies that year. Yet, the group makes up more than 18% of the U.S. population according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
It is even more important to celebrate the accomplishments of Hispanic and Latino entertainers in the business as the entertainment industry continues to diversify its talent on and off screen. As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, take a look at a list of our favorite Hispanic and Latino talents, who have been representing in some of the industry’s leading films and television series.
1. Jennifer “J. Lo” LopezSource:jlo
Lopez has been at it for decades from performing as a “Fly Girl” on In Living Color to singing her own songs in the early 2000’s and now, a megastar in film and television. J Lo puts on for her Puerto Rican heritage.
2. John LeguizamoSource:johnleguizamo
He rose to fame with a co-starring role in Super Mario Bros. as Luigi and a supporting role in the crime drama Carlito’s Way. Leguizamo is an all-around talent representing his mestizo heritage.
3. Eva LongoriaSource:Eva Longoria
Eva Longoria first appeared in many guest roles in several series. She was recognized for her portrayal of Isabella Braña on the CBS daytime soap opera The Young and the Restless. Longoria is a proud Mexican American.
4. Salma HayekSource:salma hayek
The gorgeous Salma Hayek began her career in Mexico starring in the 1989 telenovela Teresa. She has since starred in a number of roles in American film. She was born in Mexico.
5. Benjamin BrattSource:Benjamin bratt
Bratt is best known for his recurring role on TV’s Law and Order and supporting roles in Miss Congeniality and Traffic. Bratt was born in Peru of Quechuan ethnicity.
6. George LopezSource:George Lopez
George Lopez is a comedian and actor who has contributed to the industry for many years. He is is known for starring in his self-produced ABC sitcom. His stand-up comedy examines race and ethnic relations, including Mexican American culture.
7. Oscar IsaacSource:Oscar Isaac
Isaac is a Guatemalan-born American actor. He starred in the tragicomedy Inside Llewyn Davis, for which he received a Golden Globe Award nomination, the crime drama A Most Violent Year, and the science fiction thriller Ex Machina. Most recently, he appeared in The Card Counter.
8. Danny TrejoSource:Danny trejo
Danny Trejo is an American actor and successful businessman who has appeared in numerous Hollywood films, including Heat, Con Air, Bubble Boy, and Desperado. Trejo is Mexican-American.
9. Penélope CruzSource:Penelope cruz
Cruz is a Spanish actress with numerous accomplishments under her belt. She is the recipient of various accolades, including an Academy Award and a British Academy Film Award, in addition to nominations for a Primetime Emmy Award, four Golden Globe Awards, and five Screen Actors Guild Awards.
10. Sofía VergaraSource:Sofia vergara
Vergara is a Colombian-American actress, television producer, presenter, and model. Along with being the highest paid actress in American television from 2013 to 2020, Sofia was also the highest–paid Hollywood actress in 2020.
11. Zoe SaldañaSource:Zoe saldana
She is a Dominican and Puerto Rican actress best known for her roles in Columbiana, Avatar, and Guardians of the Galaxy.
12. Jessica AlbaSource:Jessica alba
Jessica Alba is an American born actress and businesswoman. She began her television and movie appearances at age 13 in Camp Nowhere and The Secret World of Alex Mack, but rose to prominence at age 19 as the lead actress of the television series Dark Angel, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination. Her father is from Mexican-Indiana and Spanish lineage.
13. Selena GomezSource:Selena Gomez
Gomez is a notable singer and actress born and raised in Texas. Gomez began her acting career on the children’s television series Barney & Friends. In her teenage years, she rose to prominence for her role as Alex Russo in the Disney Channel television series Wizards of Waverly Place. Her father is Mexican.
14. Antonio BanderasSource:Antonio banderas
Banderas is a Spanish actor, director and producer. He’s notable for his roles in The Mask of Zorro and Desperado.
15. America FerreraSource:america ferrera
America Georgina Ferrera is an American actress, producer, and director born in Los Angeles to Honduran parents. She is best known for her roles in Ugly Betty and Superstore.
16. Michelle RodriguezSource:Michelle Rodriguez
Rodriguez is best known for her roles in the Fast & Furious series. She is Dominican and Puerto Rican.
17. Rosario DawsonSource:rosario Dawson
Rosario Dawson is an American actress and producer. She made her feature-film debut in the 1995 independent drama Kids. Dawson is of Afro-Cuban and Puerto Rican descent.
18. Eva MendesSource:evamendes.lareinadebelleza
Eva Mendes is a retired actress, model and businesswoman. Her acting career began in the late 1990s. She appeared in classics like Hitch and 2 Fast 2 Furious. Mendes is of Cuban descent.
19. Rosie PerezSource:rosie perez
Rosa Perez is an actress, choreographer and community activist. Her film breakthrough performance was her portrayal of Tina in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, which she followed with White Men Can’t Jump. Perez is Puerto Rican.
20. Wilmer ValderramaSource:Wilmer Valderrama
Wilmer Valderrama is an actor, producer, singer, and television personality. He is best known for the role of Fez in the sitcom That ’70s Show and as Carlos Madrigal in From Dusk till Dawn: The Series. Valderrama is Venezuelan and Columbian.