Hometown: Moreno Valley and Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Why You Should Pay Attention: Multi-hyphenate Becky G portrayed Trini a.k.a. the Yellow Ranger in the 2017 reboot Power Rangers, becoming a headline magnet in the role because her Trini character explored her sexuality, making it the first major LGBTQ representation in a superhero film. The Mexican-American entertainer will expand her big screen resume with her upcoming parts in sci-fi flick Miles and animated movie Gnome Alone.
Becky G is known for her music career and modeling gigs too. Most recently, she received 2017 nominations from the Teen Choice Awards (for Choice Sci-Fi Movie Actress), Billboard Latin Music Awards (for Hot Latin Songs Female Artist) and Premios Juventud (Best Fashionista). —Brian Anthony Hernandez
Hometown: Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S.
Why You Should Pay Attention: A new generation-defining drama may be afoot with Riverdale, The CW's dark and sexy take on the Archie Comics characters. A major part of the series success undoubtedly comes from Camila Mendes' portrayal of Veronica Lodge a sophisticated and sassy former socialite who uses her move from New York City to Riverdale as a fresh start. While Mendes has spoken out about being proud of her Brazilian heritage, she doesn't allow her culture to solely define her and the roles she can take. "I'm not as Latina as sometimes these castings demand you to be—this 'urban' idea of what a Latina is," she told Glamour magazine. "I don't want to fake who I am to fit a stereotype. [My role as Veronica in Riverdale] came along, and I felt like I didn't have to try to be anything that I'm not. She was Latina, and they weren't trying to push any stereotype on her. She just was Latina, which is how I feel." This is just one of the actress' smart quotes that prove that inclusion and visibility for different races also doesn't require that every character be a full-out display of a culture, but instead can exist on an equal platform like all other heritages. —Jeff Benjamin
Hometown: Dominican Republic; Brooklyn, New York, U.S.; Miami, Florida, U.S.
Why You Should Pay Attention: We’ve all grown to love Dascha Polanco, who plays fan favorite character Daya Diaz on Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black. Along with starring on the hit show, Polanco will appear in Ryan Murphy’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story and the upcoming dark comedy film iCreep.
But when she’s not acting, the Dominican native stressed the importance of self-love and appreciation for her culture. “We have to be ‘fake Latinas.’” Polanco said in an interview earlier this summer. “And here’s the thing about ‘fake Latinas’—when you look at Latinas who are succeeding in Hollywood, they’re super thin and you really can’t tell if she’s Latina or not.” Well, we can’t wait to see Polanco’s future plans to continue to break barriers for the Latin community. —Bianca Gracie
Hometown: Jalisco, Mexico
Why You Should Pay Attention: Although he has been acting since he was a child, Gael Garcia Bernal first came to our attention in the 2001 indie film Y Tu Mama Tambien, about two teenage boys on a road trip with a mysterious older woman. Since then he has gone on to write, produce, direct and star in many projects, most recently as the eccentric New York Symphony maestro Rodrigo in the Amazon Original series Mozart in the Jungle, and co-found the production company Canana Films with childhood friend and Y Tu Mama co-star Deigo Luna and Mexican Producer Pablo Cruz. Even more impressively, the company focuses on social justice themes in the Latin American community. —Katy Caldwell
Hometown: Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Why You Should Pay Attention: Currently in his 20th year as a comedian, Gabriel "Fluffy" Iglesias has become one of the world's most recognized and beloved stand-up acts. In addition to racking up hundreds of millions of Youtube views, the Mexican-American recently dropped his sixth comedy special on Netflix and is set to voice Cuatro in the upcoming animated film Ferdinand alongside Gina Rodriguez, John Cena and Kate McKinnon. Fluffy fanatics also followed along as Iglesias hit the road for a third season of Fuse's Fluffy's Food Adventures, a hilarious docu-series highlighting the 41-year-old's affinity for both food and laughs. Always on the road, Iglesias can be found delivering his signature sound effects on his current tour, FluffyMania World Tour: 20 Years of Comedy, through the end of 2017. —Tina Xu
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Why You Should Pay Attention: A majority of us were first introduced to Gina Rodriguez as Jane Villanueva in Jane the Virgin back in 2014. Since then, the actress has used her celebrity status to help make changes not just in Hollywood—but within her community as well. Rodriguez, who is of Puerto Rican descent, is a member of Hispanic Scholarship Fund’s Board of Directors (a non-profit organization that helps aid Hispanic-American students’ education). She also teamed up with PACER's (The Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights) anti-bullying campaign.
And when she’s not on the screen as Jane the Virgin, she’s developing her own TV series. The first will be Have Mercy, a CBS drama that focuses on a Latina doctor who is unable to practice when she immigrates to Miami. The second is with her home network The CW and is called Illegal. The dramedy follows a 16-year-old high school student Rafael who discovers he is undocumented. "For years this is all I wanted to do. Bring Latino stories to the screen to create love, tolerance and empathy. LATINOS STAND UP,” Rodriguez tweeted when her projects were announced.
Hometown: Coachella Valley, California, U.S.
Why You Should Pay Attention: Despite her relatively young career, 14-year-old actress Jenna Ortega has already seen a significant shift when it comes to representation for Latinos in her industry. "In the acting world, each job has a description. As a Latina, there are not as many roles out there for me," Ortega wrote in an essay for Popsugar Latina, citing her background of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent. "When I first started out, it was hard. I was constantly shut down because I did not have the look they were going for. You have to keep pushing. All of the nos I received just motivated me even more. I wanted to change the casting directors' point of view. I wanted to get rid of that description...Now, in the acting world, you see a lot more of the "all ethnicities" roles out there. I see more of my fellow Latinas rising up, and that makes me very proud. There are not as many Hispanic leading ladies out there as I would like, but I want to help change that in the future." With major roles in The CW's Jane the Virgin and Disney Channel's Stuck in the Middle, no doubt she'll continue lead that change. —Jeff Benjamin
Hometown: Santa Clarita, California, U.S.
Why You Should Pay Attention: As the star of MTV’s Teen Wolf, which celebrates its series finale on Sept. 24, Tyler Posey carried the show for six seasons as a high school heartthrob and part-time werewolf. During his Teen Wolf stint as the lead, the 25-year-old actor won Best TV Actor at the 2012 Imagen Awards for his positive portrayal of a major Latino character. Look for Posey, whose late mother is of Mexican descent, on the big screen in 2018 when he’ll star in several films, including supernatural horror film Truth or Dare, comedic flick Taco Truck and action movie Decoy. —Brian Anthony Hernandez
Hometown: Miami, Florida, U.S.; Venezuela
Why You Should Pay Attention: We recognize the star from his notable TV roles on That '70s Show, FOX's sci-fi Minority Report and recently NCIS, but Wilmer Valderrama's contribution to Hollywood goes much deeper.
As the executive producer of Fuse's The Hollywood Puppet Sh!tshow, Valderrama’s acting career continues to rise and so does his voice for Latinos in and outside of Hollywood. The 37-year-old of both Colombian and Venezuelan descent makes significant efforts to raise awareness for Voto Latino and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's initiatives. Despite his busy schedule, the actor is an active spokesperson for CHCI and founded their Ready to Lead program—empowering and educating the Latino youth. He is also the co-founder of Harness, an advocacy organization inspiring action and connecting communities with activists. Although we can't wait to see which roles he takes on next, the influential actor is prime example of leadership and being "proud out loud." —Amissa Pitter
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Why You Should Pay Attention: Wilson Cruz first came our attention as the beloved, troubled, gay, Hispanic teen Rickie Vasquez on the ABC show My So Called Life and has since gone on to work with and advocate for LGBTQ youth, with a focus on POCs. In 2012, he joined the staff of GLAAD as a National Spokesperson and Strategic Giving Officer. Currently he can be seen in the cult television hit Star Trek: Discovery as the first openly gay character in the franchise, Dr. Hugh Culber. —Katy Caldwell
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