As the highly anticipated release of Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga starring Anya Taylor-Joy draws near, it’s clear that Latina actresses are breaking down barriers in the film industry.

In recent years, Hollywood has undergone a remarkable shift towards diversity and representation, with Latina actresses leading the charge. This movement goes beyond simply diversifying film screens; it’s about reshaping the narrative and empowering previously underrepresented voices.

Latina Actresses Shine in Iconic Franchises

Five talented Latina actresses who have recently made their mark on prominent film franchises.

Anya Taylor-Joy

With her upcoming role in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, Taylor-Joy continues to captivate audiences with her undeniable magnetism. Her casting not only showcases her exceptional talent but also underscores Hollywood’s recognition of Latina actresses for iconic roles.

You can see Taylor-Joy in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga when the film premieres in theaters May 24.

Rosario Dawson

Dawson brought depth and authenticity to the beloved Star Wars universe as Ahsoka Tano. The titular character allows Latinx audiences to see themselves reflected in a galaxy far, far away.

You can see Dawson in Ahsoka, streaming now on Disney+.

Jenna Ortega

Ortega’s turn as Wednesday Addams in the Addams Family franchise was nothing short of iconic. As her career continues to flourish, her inclusion signifies a new era of inclusivity, where a Latina actress takes center stage in a beloved franchise.

You can see Ortega in Wednesday, streaming now on Netflix.

Rachel Zegler

Zegler’s casting in The Hunger Games marked a fresh chapter for the dystopian franchise. A powerhouse performer, Zegler delivered an unforgettable performance as Lucy, underscoring the importance of diverse narratives and serving as an inspiration for young Latina talent.

You can see Zegler in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, available on Blu-ray and digital now.

Xochitl Gomez

Gomez made a historic mark in the Marvel franchise by becoming the first Latina superhero with her portrayal of America Chavez in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. This groundbreaking role not only shatters barriers but also paves the way for more Latina representation in superhero stories.

You can see Gomez in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, streaming now on Disney+.

Looking back at how actresses like Salma Hayek paved the way

While this list highlights some recent breakthroughs, it’s important to acknowledge the work of Salma Hayek, one of the few Latina faces in Hollywood for many years. Hayek has consistently challenged the stereotypical portrayal of Latinas as sex symbols. As Ajak, the leader of the Eternals in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, she stands as a testament to her star power. And her dedication to pushing for Latinx representation at the forefront of Hollywood.

Hayek’s portrayal of Ajak resonated deeply with audiences. She wasn’t just a powerful leader; she was a kind, compassionate, and wise figure. Seeing a Latina woman in such a prominent role, especially at the age of 55, was a powerful moment. The emotional impact was evident on the red carpet premiere, where Hayek spoke about seeing families dressed as her character. The film itself resonated with its portrayal of authentic relationships, further solidifying the importance of diversity both on and off-screen.

Beyond Actresses: A Look at Latinas Behind the Camera

The increase in diversity isn’t limited to on-screen appearances. 2023 proved to be an incredible year for Latina filmmakers as well. Eva Longoria’s directorial debut, Flamin’ Hot, tells the inspiring story of Richard Montañez, the creator of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. The film’s success, ranking among the most-streamed films in the US during its release week, highlights the growing audience for diverse stories. Alejandra Márquez Abella is another prominent Latina filmmaker whose work sheds light on stories of resilience and empowerment. Her films, like A Million Miles Away, which received critical acclaim, serve as a source of inspiration for marginalized communities.

A Brighter Future

A report from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative suggests some progress. 8 of the 10 leading roles in the top 100 grossing films of 2022 were held by Hispanic/Latina actors. Latinos remain underrepresented in Hollywood films and TV overall. They make up only 3% of on-screen representation and 7% of media industry jobs.

The stark underrepresentation is even more glaring when compared to a 2023 study finding that 66.7% of streaming films feature white leads, while Latinos make up only 6.1%. However, there are bright spots. The 2023 U.S. Latino GDP Report by the Latino Donor Collaborative (LDC) reveals a staggering $3.4 trillion in U.S. Latino purchasing power. The report goes further, stating that the U.S. Latino economy would rank as the fifth largest in the world. Coupled with the near doubling of the Latino economy from $2.8 trillion in 2020 to $3.2 trillion in 2021, compared to the $1.7 trillion GDP in 2010, makes a strong case for increased representation. It not only makes sense to create more stories centered on the Latinx experience. But also to cast more Latinx actors in general.

The strides made by Latina actresses and filmmakers are a cause for celebration. As Hollywood continues to embrace diversity, we can hope to see more powerful and impactful stories from this talented group.