Latina Actresses Making a Difference

Whether they’re famous or not, these women are rising up the Latina pride. These women have achieved incredible things and they should be recognized for everything they’ve done, not just for being a pretty face or for being famous.

Rosario Dawson
Born in the US, Rosario Dawson has Puerto Rican and Afro-Cuban roots; she’s a singer, actress and writer. Rosario started her career at a very young age and has appeared in movies such as Sin City, Men in Black II, Cesar Chavez and many more.

Dawson is the co-founder of Voto Latino, she’s really passionate about promoting Latinos, raising awareness about Latinos; they are a big part of the US population, to promote Latino talent and to make people involved in political issues.

Besides her work with Voto Latino and according to, Dawson has worked with different organizations such as, Artists for Peace and Justice,, Global Cool, Make-A-Wish Foundation and ONE Campaign.


Zoe Saldana
She has Dominican and Puerto Rican roots and lived in Dominican Republic for 7 years, then moved back to the States to pursue her dancing dream and her love for theater.

Saldana has worked in movies such as Avatar, Guardians of the Galaxy, Start Trek and many more. In several occasions she has proven to be proud of her Latina roots, and after being on the cover of Glamour magazine she did an interview with Glam Belleza Latina where Saldana stated, “I am proud to be Latina. I will not accept [anyone] telling me that I’m less or whatever, because to me, that is just hysterical. But I don’t like to break and divide myself into all these small little categories like, ‘I’m an American, a woman, a Latina, a black Latina.’’ No. I am Zoe.”


Gina Rodriguez
Gina has been recognized majorly for her role on Filly Brown, and now following her big role as the star of the TV show Jane the Virgin. Rodriguez’s success has been thanks to the fact that she’s been working hard at a young age: performing, dancing, acting and studying in different art schools, always trying to improve. In her busy schedule Rodriguez also has managed her time and made space to work with different organizations. Rodriguez is supporter of Inspira, an organization dedicated to give attention to Latino leaders who help in their communities, Rodriguez has worked with the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts.


Michelle Rodriguez

Known for always being the tough chick in many roles; the most significant one so far has been being part of the Fast & Furious saga. However, not only that, but Rodriguez has also made a name of herself by being different. Rodriguez has a personal mark and that has made a difference around the Hollywood actresses, she has proven that girls can be strong and still be intelligent and attractive.

Rodriguez has helped Sea Shepherd, an organization dedicated to stop the whale killing, and has also hosted different fundraisers for different organizations.

Karla Souza

Born in Mexico City, Souza has taken many risks to succeed in her acting career. She started with small roles on TV then began participating on big Mexican productions such as “We Are the Nobles” and “Instructions not Included”, which were a big hit in Mexico and got the attention from several other countries. Another of Souza’s dreams was to be a Hollywood actress; her family trusted her but they weren’t sure if she was going to make it, but Souza proved them wrong and made it. Souza is part of the TV show “How to Get Away with Murder” and has worked on many other movies who will be released later.

All of these women have different traits that have made them stand out from the rest, but there’s one thing they share: being Latinas. They have proven that dreams do come true, as long as you work hard and take risks. If one of your goals in life is to become an actress, it’s possible. The road is not easy, but just as these women, you can achieve it too!

Running with Ambition

Behrend-Track-main-resizedA successful athlete and student, Ayla Lopez has worked hard to be where she is today. Entering her senior year of high school this year, she looks forward to another running season and beyond that: college. This is her story.

Often training in the scorching heat of Texas, Alya Lopez has been working hard to reach a new PR (Personal Record, reference to your best time in an event). Determined to break physical and mental barriers, she trains year round to compete in the 800m and 1500m with the hopes of being better than the race before. Training since she was eight years old, Lopez will soon reach the tenth year mark as a runner and athlete.

Lopez wasn’t always a runner; she started off as a cheerleader. Eight-year old Ayla would be practicing her twirls and cheers, but would sometimes watch her older brother train under the guidance of Sam Walker, a legendary track coach of El Paso. Wanting to try it out, Lopez went to a few practices and thought it was “fun.” From there her running career began.

Lopez continued on running even when she was discouraged by others or faced defeat. She was told that running wasn’t “girly enough” and that she should stick with cheerleading. Ignoring these comments  she continued training and in her first race as an eight year old, she got dead last in the 800m race and was told that maybe running wasn’t for her. It was only a year later where she qualified for the opportunity to run at Nationals where she won her first All-American title. Since then Lopez has been going to Nationals across the nation almost every year, visiting Nebraska, Virginia, South Carolina, Texas, Alabama, and most recently Chicago, Illinois where she has earned All-American titles in the 800m and 1500m and PRed almost every year.

When Walker decided to retire from coaching mid-way through Lopez’s running athletic career, her father stepped in and created the running club TexaStrong. Under her father’s guidance, Lopez has able to overcome obstacles as an athlete and achieve the PRs she wanted. Training simultaneously with her high school team and with TexaStrong during the school year, she trains up to 17.5 hours a week with one day off. During the summer, Lopez trains twice a day to become a stronger athlete. However, this can sometimes strain her body, her will, and her spirit.

“Before Nationals [last year], I had bad shin splints and road runs hurt, I was burnt out. But I looked at old pictures and videos of me training [when I was younger] and remembered that [running] is something I love,” says Lopez.

While Lopez is a remarkable runner, she is just as impressive academically and as a community member. She was invited to be a part of the National Hispanic Institute (NHI), an organization geared towards recognizing academically successful Latinos, as a sophomore. Lopez was nominated as All District Academic in Track her sophomore year as well, an award given to a male and female athlete (for every sport) that has the highest GPA within the district.

Lopez volunteers at the local public library, Dorris Van Doren, where she reads to children every Wednesday in the summertime. She has also helped coach the younger kids in father’s running club when she is taking time off or in her off season. Other times she is acts as a volunteer and counselor at Rescue Mission in El Paso or the Yellow Mustard Café (a shelter for the homeless). Lopez has also been involved in the fundraising for donation to a local women’s shelter.

“Don’t compare yourself to others, you know what you can do,” Lopez advices. “Don’t give up, take a moment to look back and ask yourself why it was your passion. You can do so much more. It’s not easy, but doable.”

As Lopez continues her goals as an athlete and student, she hopes to go to a Texas college that will give her an opportunity to run for them. With hard work and dedication, Lopez is a prime example of how it pays off in the end.

Michelle Phan: Remaining True to Your Goals

maxresdefaultThis March during Spring Break I had the opportunity, thanks to Latinitas, to attend SXSW. SXSW is a set of film, interactive and music festivals and conferences that occur annually in Austin, Texas. This year both Latinos and women were prominently featured, and I attended with the goal of learning as much as I could from figures that are inspiring to Latinitas. One figure in particular caught my attention as I know that she is especially popular among preteen and teenage girls. That person is Michelle Phan, the explosively famous YouTuber who performs makeup tutorials on camera, and also runs her own makeup line called Em.

Michelle, along with Lucky Magazine editor-in-chief Eva Chen, headed a panel about how to remain true to ourselves and to our goals. Michelle started out the panel by noting that “right now is such a hard time to be a female because we are judged on so many different platforms.” She’s right: real life, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat…There are dozens of different ways in which who we are and what we say and how we look are analyzed and judged. So what’s a girl to do?

Michelle said that first off it is important to decide who you are. You must ask yourself: “What do you represent? What story do you want to tell?” It is important to ask yourself these questions because without a sense of what you believe and who you want to be you may fall prey to the lies others tell you about yourself.

Speaking of those with unkind things to say, Michelle says to “ignore the bullies and give platform to those speaking and doing good.” Once you have a vision for yourself and have learned to combat negativity you are ready to begin actively achieving your goals. Surround yourself with those who believe in and support those goals.

Michelle knows what she’s taking about. Behind her glamorous image and creative talent is a woman who endured much hardship to get to where she is today. Born to Vietnamese immigrants, her father left the family when she was very young. Her mother, living in poverty, struggled to provide for Michelle and her brother. She dreamed of Michelle becoming a doctor. Michelle, as much as she loved her mother and wanted to make her happy, knew instinctively that medicine was not her calling. So at the last minute she enrolled in art classes instead and paid her way working as a waitress.

She did not begin filming her YouTube videos until she was turned down for a job selling makeup at the Lancôme counter. She knew that, despite what others believed, she had a talent for makeup and could use it to help others. She began discussing and applying makeup herself on camera, and quickly gained followers. Her “Barbie Makeup” tutorial has 6 million views and counting! Major beauty lines soon noticed her success and talent. Lancôme, who had once turned her down for a job, returned to offer Michelle her very own makeup line with them! A while later, she received an offer for a book deal.

Today, Michelle has over 7 million subscribers to her YouTube channel, a makeup line called ‘Em’ and a published book. But even as she works hard to remain successful she remembers the importance of giving back to those most in need. At the SXSW panel she told the audience that she was headed to China the next day to promote a non-profit that foments education on a global scale. Her dedication to both achieving her own dreams and helping others to achieve theirs is an inspiring reminder that when we discover our life purpose we positively affect the lives of others.

Journalist Zita Arocha

Zita Arocha

Zita Arocha

 Zita Arocha is a Cuban-American bilingual journalist and senior lecturer in the University of Texas At El Paso. She is director of, a multimedia web magazine that prepares Hispanic college journalists for jobs in 21st century newsrooms. For over 20 years, she worked as a reporter for The Washington PostThe Miami Herald, The Miami News and The Tampa Times. She was executive director of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists from 1993-1997, and was training coordinator for the Freedom Forum’s Chips Quinn Scholars Program from 2000-2002. She has also been a freelance contributor to various national publications.

What are your job responsibilities?
Right now, I am the director of an online magazine called and also, I teach some of the Journalism courses.

What is your educational training?
I always wanted to be a teacher, but life had other things prepared.  My first job was at the Tampa Time and later I went to work at El Nuevo Harold in Miami. In the first newspaper I applied as a secretary, because there weren’t any current positions open. I waited a season. Finally one reporter quit his job, and I applied for it. My boss at that time taught me what I know now. He was my mentor and a big support of my career. I have also worked at the Washington Post and The Miami News.

How did you find your current job?
I was invited to teach at UTEP in 2002. I had come to El Paso years before and I thought that it was a nice place to live. Dr. Weatherspoon had made me the invitation to come to the university and teach communication. I felt so glad, because I studied to be a teacher and that opportunity came to me at the right moment. Also, I am the current director of Borderzine Magazine at UTEP and is for Hispanic journalist pursuing an opportunity in the journalism.

How did you prepare for this career?
Honestly, your daily work prepares you for your career. I earned a master’s degree in English and comparative literature from the University of South Florida, and recently I earned a MFA in bilingual creative writing at UTEP. My most recent job has been a memoir, Leaving Cuba.

What is your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part is seeing bright new students each semester. Also, there is always something new to do, to learn and even to write. I like that my students get engaged in communications. We see them now everywhere and I believe that in the communication area you never will get bored.

What is the most challenging part of the job?
I remember when I used to write stories from the court rooms, I would get chills of the cases I used to hear. It is one of the parts about my job, which I most enjoyed. Being there, in the middle of all those sometime terrible, great and inspiring jury verdicts. Reporting those cases was something that I will always remember. I even enjoy telling them to my students or even to someone that is interviewing me, like you.

What do you do for fun when you aren’t working?
Most of my time I spend it at school. But, like on the weekend I spend the time with my husband at our house. We are common people that do common things.

Social Activist Dolores Huerta

Did you know that…

Activist and labor leader, Dolores Huerta has dedicated her life to working to improve social and economic conditions for farm workers and to fight discrimination. She was born Dolores Fernandez on April 10, 1930, in Dawson, New Mexico. She grew up in Stockton, California in the San Joaquin Valley. In 1960, she co-founded the United Farm Workers (UFW) with Cesar Chavez.

In the early 1950s, she completed a teaching degree at Delta Community College. She worked as an elementary school teacher where she saw that her students living in poverty without enough food or the basic necessities. To help, she became one of the founders of the Stockton chapter of the Community Services Organization (CSO) to improve social and economic conditions for farm workers and to fight discrimination.

To further her cause, Huerta created the Agricultural Workers Association (AWA) in 1960.  In 1962, she co-founded a workers’ union with Cesar Chavez, which was later called the United Farm Workers (UFW). Huerta was instrumental in the union’s successes, including the strikes against California grape growers in the 1960s and 1970s.

She has received many honors for her activism, including the Ellis Island Medal of Freedom Award (1993), the National Women’s Hall of Fame (1993) and the Eleanor Roosevelt Award (1998). In May 2012, President Barack Obama awarded Dolores Huerta with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor a civilian can receive.

Huerta is president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, which she founded in 2002.The Dolores Huerta Foundation is a ”community benefit organization that organizes at the grassroots level, engaging and developing natural leaders. DHF creates leadership opportunities for community organizing, leadership development, civic engagement, and policy advocacy in the following priority areas: health & environment, education & youth development, and economic development. Huerta continues to work tirelessly developing leaders and advocating for the working poor, women and children.

10 Latinas in History

It’s Women’s History Month and what better way to celebrate then to learn about some awesome Latinas that have made an impact in the world. From politics to sports to education, there is no shortage of chicas that have made a name for themselves and have proven to be some world-class women. Here is a list of 10 Latinas who have made an impact!

Rosie7Rosemary Casals

Rosemary “Rosie” Casals is a former American professional tennis player. Rosie is a daughter to immigrants from El Salvador. Her parents, discovering that they could not care for her or her sister, gave them up and she lived with her uncle, Manuel Casals, who became her first and only tennis coach. Rosie was known as rebellious and entered tournaments against women two or three years older than her. She was determined to prove herself despite her shorter stature and different background compared to the wealthy White players commonly seen. Rosie was known for fighting for rights of tennis players and women players. She fought for an arrangement for amateur – poorer and nonpaid players – and professional players to play in the same tournament. And most notably, she fought for the right of women to have the same amount of prize money compare to their male counterparts. Rosie and a group of women boycotted tournaments and created an all-female tournament that gained a lot of media attention. Her endeavors helped pave the way for female tennis athletes.

Sylvia Mendez

Sylvia Mendez was 9 years old when her and her sibling were denied enrollment into their local elementary school because they were Mexican. Interestingly enough, her cousins were allowed enrollment because they were half-Mexican, therefore had lighter skin and a French surname that allowed them admission into the “white school.” Mendez’s parents were appalled and filed suit against the school district, bringing forth one of the most groundbreaking cases in Civil Rights. The Mendez vs. Westminster outlawed segregation in California schools and is set as precedent for other cases, such as Brown v. Board of Education. Sylvia Mendez was awarded the Medal of Freedom in 2011 by President Obama and has received several Lifetime Achievement awards and Certificates of Recognition for her role in advocating education.

Rosario Dawson and Maria Theresa Kumar

Rosario Dawson and Maria Theresa Kumar are founders of the organization Voto Latino. Voto Latino is a nonpartisan organization that encourages Latinos to vote in elections.  The organization targets Latino Millennials and hopes to encourage them to take advantage and claim a better future for themselves and their community. Voto Latino’s goal is produce a positive change by engaging youth to be more proactive. This organization has received recognition for their endeavors toward Latinos.

Mari-Luci Jaramillo

Mari-Luci Jaramillo was a pioneer in Bilingual Education. She emphasized collaborative learning, whole language, bilingual/bicultural education, and taught children identity and a self-love for learning. She taught elementary school during the day and attended Masters program at night, as education is an important aspect through out her life. Her classroom, at one of the poorest schools in Albuquerque, became a demonstration site for people across the country. Jaramillo was known as a “master teacher.” In 1977, President Carter appointed her U.S Ambassador of Honduras and became the first Latina ambassador.

Mirabal Sisters

The Mirabal Sister were four Dominican sisters – Patria, Dede, Minerva, and Maria Theresa – who opposed the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. Minerva was the first of the sisters to become active in the overthrow of the dictator and eventually the rest of the sisters joined the efforts. They created a group called The Movement of the Fourteenth of June, which distributed pamphlets detailing of Trujillo’s horrendous actions and acquired bombs and guns for their impending revolt. They were called La Mariposas (The Butterflies). The sisters and their husbands faced multiple incarcerations but it did not discourage their efforts. They continued to oppose Trujillo until he became deeply troubled by their actions causing him to order an assassination. On November 25, 1960, Trujillo’s henchmen killed Patria, Minerva, and Maria– leaving Dede as the last remaining Mirabal sister.  On December 17, 1999 the United Nations General Assembly appointed November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in honor of the sisters.

Adelfa Botello Callejo

Adelfa Botello Callejo is a former Dallas layer and civil rights leader. Callejo was the first Latina to graduate from law school at Southern Methodist University and was one of three women in her graduating class. After law school, this aspiring lawyer had to create her own private practice because she would only be hired as a legal secretary. Her actions included the protest against the fatal police shooting of a Mexican-American 12-year-old boy in 1973, protests against the deportation of immigrants, fighting for City Council redistricting, and frequent encounters with the Dallas school districts to push for better bilingual education. Callejo was sometimes called La Madrina (“The Godmother”).

Aida Alvarez

Aida Alvarez is the first Latina in a United States Cabinet-level position. During Bill Clinton’s presidency, in 1997, Alvarez was appointed as the Administrator of the Small Business Administration. Coming from humble roots, after leaving Puerto Rico, Alvarez attended high school in New York and participated in a program called “ASPIRA.” This program’s goal was to help disadvantage youth and instilled leadership skills and helped them in their endeavors to attend college. From a journalist at the New York Post, to TV news anchor for Metromedia Television, to venturing out into the banking business, Alvarez worked her way up in her career.

Dolores Huerta

Dolores Huerta is well known for co-founding the National Farmworkers Association with Cesar Chavez. The organization is one of the largest and most successful farm workers unions and is currently active in ten states. This labor leader and civil rights activist has been incarcerated approximately twenty-two times for her non-violent civil disobedience, as well as been beaten by Sand Francisco police publicly in 1988 for a peaceful and lawful protest. Huerta has received many awards for her advocacy for women’s rights, worker’s rights, and immigrant’s rights, such as the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights and Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Rita Moreno

Rita Moreno hit the big screen in 1961 when she played the role of Anita in Westside Story. While she had smaller roles prior to this musical, this role is what gave her much recognition. Moreno is one of the few performers, and only Hispanic, to be awarded all four annual major American entertainment awards: an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and the Tony award. Moreno is, also, the second Puerto Rican to receive an Oscar. This actress made a name in the entertainment business and paved the way for later Latina actresses.

Sonia Maria Sotomayor

Sonia Sotomayor was the first justice of Hispanic heritage, as well as one of the youngest. Sotomayor graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University and earned her Juris Doctor from Yale Law School. She is advocate for hiring more Latino faculty at both school, Princeton and Yale. After working as an assistant district attoenty and eneterning private practice, in 1991, President George H.W. Bush nominated her to the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York. She served as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1998–2009. President Barack Obama nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on May 26, 2009, and she assumed this role August 8, 2009


Latina in the Art World

ArtSuppliesIris Cahill is the Coordinator of Docents and Tours at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas. The museum is well known for its collections of European and Latin American Art, and Iris, who has studied art for most of her life, is well versed in its artwork. She has become a prominent figure at the well-established art institution.

However, her rise to career and personal success was not an easy one. She faced doubts and struggles from the time she was small. She was raised in Puerto Rico by her single mother. Iris’s father had left the family when her little sister was just a few months old. She would never see or speak to him again.

Nonetheless her youth was not an unhappy one. Her mother and grandparents were dedicated to her upbringing, and they encouraged creativity from the time she was small, giving her art supplies like clay and colored pencils and also buying her violin and classical guitar lessons.

As a teen, she moved with her mother and sister to Hawaii, where she volunteered with the local community arts program, helping to design materials and organize events. At 17, while still in high school, she took introductory art classes at a junior college.

Thinking back on those years she says, “high school is about figuring out who you are and building those tools accordingly. I fell in love with being creative. Art is timeless. Art connects all cultures throughout history.”

Cultivating her love for art in her Introduction to Painting and Introduction to Sculpture classes, she decided to pursue a Bachelor in Fine Arts at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She then returned to Puerto Rico as an entrepreneur. There she started her own freelance graphic design business, designing book covers and websites among other things. Though she enjoyed her work, she felt instinctively that she was not yet finished pursuing her love of art. She followed her gut and decided to pursue a Masters in Art History at the prestigious Boston University.

But not everyone was as excited about her decision as she was. Friends and family discouraged her from pursuing a master’s degree. “What are you going to do with a Master’s in Art History?” She was often asked.  Iris entered the program nonetheless. She knew what she loved to do. Looking back she says: “If you are passionate and curious about something you can make it work for you.”

While in school, she worked at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts as a Gallery Lecturer. Once she graduated she secured the position of Coordinator of Docents and Tours at the Blanton Museum of Art where she still works today. She says her favorite part of her job is teaching people about the artwork: creating a personal connection between the viewer and the work, and changing people’s minds about art.

Still Iris dreams about the future, and how to evolve in her pursuit of art. She says that she would like to further explore art’s role in psychology and counseling. She also wants to work to expose more teenagers to art. She has a message for young girls interested in learning more about their own passions: “Opportunity is out there for teenagers.” The Blanton Museum itself welcomes volunteers of all ages. The museum is open free to the public and stays open late with dance and music performances, Spanish tours, and even yoga in the galleries on the third Thursday of the month!

This summer, the museum opens a new exhibition entitled “Impressionism in the Caribbean”, featuring Puerto Rican painter Francisco Oller. Iris encourages Latinitas in the area to check out the exhibit or to just come by and say hello! For those Latinitas outside of Austin, she encourages them to check out art exhibits in their area. Most of all she wants to remind girls of the importance of exploring their passions.

Latinas in TV & Film

WonderWomanThese famous women helped pave the way for generations of Latinos in TV and film.  In the early days of Hollywood, some of these Latina actresses opened doors by being the first Latina stars. More recently, Latinas in TV have reached new heights of stardom by becoming highly visible and starring in their own shows.


Lupe Velez- (1908-1944)

María Guadalupe Villalobos Vélez was born in San Luis Potosí, Mexico on 1908. One out of five children, Velez was said to be aggressive and impulsive so she was sent to study at Our Lady of the Lake in San Antonio, Texas. She began her career in Mexico in 1924 and later emigrated to Hollywood where she was picked for the film The Gaucho (1927). She became so popular that the “Mexican Spitfire” was written around her. By the age of 21 she had already done over 10 films. She was known as one of the first Latina women to make it in Hollywood opening the doors for Latinas. Although constantly portraying love scenes her personal life was the opposite and  she sadly took her life at the age of 36 for still unknown reasons.

Carmen Miranda (1909-1955)

Born in Marco de Canaveses, Portugal in 1909 The Portuguese Brazillian samba singer, Carmen Miranda was born as Maria do Carmo Miranda da Cunha. Most commonly known as the “Brazillian Bombshell” she was a singer, dancer, Broadway actress and film star!  Making her stardom in Brazil her talent lead to Broadway and soon Hollywood. Her first film in Hollywood was Down Argentine Way in 1940. She is recognized by the signature fruit hat she wore in American movies in specific The Gang’s All Here (1943). Soon she became the highest paid woman in the United States. Her death came from a heart attack in Beverly Hills at the age of 46.

Dolores Del Rio- (1905-1983)

The Mexican actress was born in Durango, México in 1905 as María de los Dolores Asunsola y Lopez Negrete. She married at the young age of 16 to Jaime Martinez, 34 and had a two year honeymoon in Europe. Later she moved to the United States where her career in singing and acting took off as she made her debut in the film Joanna. She soon continued to play roles in silent films becoming one of the most important female figures in Mexican Cinema. Jumping from Mexico to the United States for roles, she even worked with Rock n’ Roll Star Elvis Presley in Flaming Star. Winning an Ariel Award for best actress her life ended due to multiple health issues.


Lynda Carter- (1951- )

Daughter of Juanita (Mexican/ Spanish) and Colby Carter(Scottish and Irish), Linda Jean Cordova Carter was born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1951. She is best known for winning Miss World USA in 1972 and playing the famous role of Wonder Woman. At the age of 17, she joined her cousins’ in the band The Relatives. She later attended the Arizona State University and continued to pursue a career in music. After winning Miss World, she moved to LA where she studied acting. Along the way, she guest starred on The Jackson Show, The Muppet Show, and even portrayed Rita Hayworth in The Love Goddess. Although acting opened many doors for her, she continued on to sing and even releasing a solo album called Portrait. She now has a website in which she sells her music and has tour announcements.


Cristina Saralegui- (1948- )

Born in Havana , Cuba Cristina Saralegui on 1948 she fled to Miami, Florida in 1960 following the Cuban Revolution.  She attended the University of Miami and in 1973 she began an internship with the magazine Vanidades which lead her to become the editor of the Spanish version of the Cosmopolitan magazine. After almost a decade of being an editor she launched her talk show, El Show de Cristina on Univision which had many prominent guests and ended after 21 years and earned 12 Emmys. She continued to publish a magazine Cristina: La Revista along with various books.  The “Spanish Oprah” journalist, actress, talk show host, and activist she is also created a foundation along with her husband, called Arriba la Vida to promote AIDS education in the Latino community and help other AIDS related causes.

Latinas in film have been taking on more starring roles in current times and Latina characters have evolved over time thanks to these leading Latina ladies.

HERstory: Frida Kahlo

1939_photo_nickolas_murayFrida Kahlo was a storyteller who shared her personal stories of love, pain, pride and self-discovery using paintbrushes and a mirror. To this day, she is considered not only of one Mexico’s greatest artists but an icon for Mexican culture and feminine beauty, women’s rights and equality.

She was born Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón on July 6, 1907, in Coyocoán, Mexico City, Mexico. Kahlo was born and raised in her family’s home–later referred to as the Blue House or Casa Azul, which would be her workspace and home in her later years before her passing. Throughout her life, she was constricted by physical disabilities. Around the age of 6, she contracted polio, which caused her to be bedridden for nine months. She did recover from her illness but had a slight limp because the disease damaged her right leg and foot. However, it seemed as if her physical limitations only pushed her strength and talents further. She was encouraged by her father to be active and play sports, acts that were deemed impossible for her to do.

At the age of eighteen, she was involved in a trolley accident that would have her injured for the rest of her life. Doctors were not sure she would live, much less ever walk again but she did, despite the odds. Once again, she chose an activity that strengthened her recovery: painting. One year after her accident, she completed her first of many self-portraits, which would gain worldwide recognition for their honest portrayals of her life.

Her work was often described as “surreal” because of its strange, dreamlike images. While her portraits and paintings weren’t necessarily realistic, they did display more than what she could say in words.

“I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration,” Kahlo said.

Her faint mustache striking monobrow and colorful wardrobe have made her a symbol of the traditional Mexican woman in that she never transformed her natural appearance. Quite the opposite, she would flaunt her features and dressed in a way that paid tribute to her culture.

She was famously married to Diego Rivera, another revolutionary Mexican artist. Despite their rocky relationship, Rivera greatly admired Kahlo for her original artistic take and her expressive attitude.  “Frida is the only example in the history of art of an artist who tore open her chest and heart to reveal the biological truth of her feelings,” Rivera said. “The only woman who has expressed in her work an art of the feelings, functions, and creative power of woman.”

Her career as a professional artist allowed her to live in the United States and travel to Europe to showcase her unique works at high-end galleries. Her artwork and, most notably, the way she carried herself inspired her audiences. Frida considered herself to be an independent woman, free from society labels. As a result, she was seen as a rebel, a title she gladly embraced along with her other flaws.

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do,” Frida said. “I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me, too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”

Even after her passing on July 13, 1954, she left behind a legacy, one that inspires others to persevere through life’s obstacles, accept flaws as well as their beauty and freely express their innermost emotions and thoughts.

Sorority Sister Spotlight: Arlina Garcia

gammasDo you remember the last time you were in a brand new setting? Making friends and being yourself isn’t so easy when you’re not in your comfort zone, but sometimes there are ways to ease these transitions. Arlina Garcia is a junior at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) and a sister of the “Oh So Fly” Xi Chapter of the Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority. Through this sorority, she has transitioned into a college student who proudly embraces her heritage in her daily life.

What was the most difficult part about transitioning from high school to college?

 The most difficult part about transitioning from high school to college was definitely the culture shock. I pictured UT to be very diverse, but when I arrived I was surprised by the large number of White students on campus. I felt out casted at times in my classes. I grew up in Houston, in a predominately African American and Latino community. The environment was a lot different at UT than my previous schooling institutions. Joining SLG definitely helped me transition.

Why did you decide to rush?

 Even though I knew a good number of people at UT from my school district, I still felt alone at times. I did not feel like my peers had the same goals and mind set as mine. I came in to UT wanting to join a sorority, but I never would have thought I’d join a Latina based sorority. I saw the Gammas perform a step and stroll and “Go Greek”, an event the Latino Pan-Hellenic council puts on every semester, and it sparked my interest. After attending an informational I knew Sigma Lambda Gamma was the right sorority for me. All the sisters had accomplished so much during their time at UT. I could see Gammas were ambitious, confident women and that is exactly what I wanted to be surrounded by. A positive influence to push me to pursue all my aspirations.

How has being a UT Gamma influenced your views on your culture?

 I have become very proud of my heritage and have gained so much knowledge of not only my own culture, but others as well. I truly value diversity in my everyday life now. I studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa this past summer, my first time leaving the state of Texas, and now I want to travel the world! Because: “Culture is pride, Pride is success.”

Describe your sisterhood in 3 words.

 “Hermanas por vida.” 

What’s your favorite memory?

 I have too many memories with my sisters to choose one. I would have to say my probate was an amazing day. A probate is a coming out show, after pledging a semester. When I took off my mask and revealed myself as “Arlina ‘Ambiciosa’ Garcia,” and stood next to my line sisters with my letters on for the first time, it was unforgettable.

 Has being a member in your sorority made you feel closer to your roots? Why or why not?

 Definitely, my family is very Tejano, so learning from my sisters who grew up with a more traditionally Mexican family is so interesting. I have learned to appreciate the values my parents strived to instill in me. 

What does your family back home think about your involvement?

 Being a first generation college student, I do not think my family fully understands the purpose and meaning of a sorority. However, they have been more than supportive. They have expressed that their proud of me for going through the journey of becoming a sister and how involved I have become. They also loved coming to our family weekend we host for all our parents, annually. And I must say, watching my 6’ 3” dad dominate in the sack races was priceless.

What has been the greatest benefit/s? 

Self-growth. I came in to UT very reserved, timid, and disengaged. Since becoming a sister of Sigma Lambda Gamma, I have really learned the importance of opening up. It is necessary to build relationships. You cannot improve by staying in your comfort zone. I have definitely grown a voice. For example, I speak up in class a lot more often, which is beneficial for being successful in college. I am definitely not afraid to provide input or state my opinion. I have learned the importance of networking and am no longer to put myself out there and meet people.

What advice would you give our Latinitas readers about the whole college experience?

DO THE MOST. Branch out. Study Abroad. Get a mentor. Go to different campus events. Join organizations. Do community Service. Do research. Hang out with new people. Do not just stay in your dorm room. Your undergraduate career will contain some of your best memories and you do not want to regret this time. Always remember to keep your academics a priority. Yes college is fun, but the reason you are at your institution is to get a degree. Never give up either. It can get stressful and overwhelming but you have to keep pushing. Use your resources wisely, colleges offer tutoring, skills workshops, office hours, career services, advising, and writing centers. By being a minority and a woman, making the most of your education will make a lot of people proud. Overall, stay committed and open minded.

If you’re interested in learning more about the UT Gammas visit

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