What started as just a week for the Latin and Hispanic communities in America transformed into a month-long celebration in 1989. Besides learning about Hispanic and Latin culture and traditions, a great way to show appreciation for the Latinx and hispanic communities is to recognize the many talented professionals in the film and television world.
With Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month in full swing, it’s a perfect time to turn the spotlight on the incredibly talented Latinx and Hispanic actors doing amazing work in the world of television.
Updated On October 4th, 2022 by Danielle Bruncati: While the Latinx and Hispanic communities make up a large portion of the United States population, these communities are still severely underrepresented in television. And when they are represented, their shows often don’t get enough media coverage and wind up being canceled. With October marking the beginning of Latinx and Hispanic heritage month, now is the perfect time to watch some of the greatest Latinx and Hispanic shows and prove to Hollywood that audiences do want to see these types of stories on TV.
One Day At A Time (2017-2020)
Rita Moreno, Justina Machado, Isabella Gomez, and Marcel Ruiz
A remake of the beloved Norman Leer show, the 2017 version of One Day At A Time centers on the Cuban-American Alvarez family. Co-created by Gloria Calderón Kellett, a first generation Cuban-American, the series is infused with Cuban culture from dialogue and storylines to set pieces and wardrobe choices. It also tackled important issues like racism, discussions of sexuality and gender identity, and even colorism within the Latinx community.
The entire Alvarez family is composed of Latinx actors who hail from different backgrounds, Justina Machado, Rita Moreno, and Marcel Ruiz are all Puerto Rican while Isabella Gomez’s heritage has roots in Colombia.
Gordita Chronicles (2022)
Olivia Goncalves, Juan Javier Cardenas, Diana Maria Riva, Savannah Nicole Ruiz, & Noah Rico
Gordita Chronicles has unfortunately joined the ranks of shows canceled after one season, but it is still beloved by many fans who fell in love with the family sitcom set in the 80s. The series centers on the Dominican Castelli family who are moving to Miami, Florida after their father got a promotion at work.
Based on creator Claudia Forestieri’s real-life, Gordita Chronicles offers an authentic look at what it was like being Latinx in Miami in the 80s when people were a little less welcoming. The show also boasts an majority Latinx cast, including proud Cuban and Puerto Rican actor Juan Javier Cardenas as Victor, the family’s patriarch, and newcomer Olivia Goncalves who is of Dominican Republic descent.
Diary Of A Future President (2020-2021)
Tess Romero, Selenis Leyva, Jessica Marie Garcia
Diary Of A Future President was one of Disney+ first original shows to hit the streaming service and features a primarily Latinx cast from various backgrounds. It centers on Elena, a Cuban American teenager, who is trying to find her place in middle school and ends up growing up to be the President of the United States.
The series explores what it’s like for Elena and her brother Bobby growing up as Cuban-Americans in the modern world. This manifests in different ways but one of the most hard hitting episodes involves Bobby being annoyed that the tilde over the n in his last name is constantly left off.
Joaquín Cosío, J.J. Soria, Karrie Martin Lachney, Carlos Santos, & Many More
Gentefied is one of the best Latinx lead shows of all time that was canceled too soon in 2022. The dramedy followed three Mexican-American cousins who are trying to chase their own dreams while also helping their beloved grandfather keep their family’s taco shop afloat in their changing community.
Brilliant Mexican actor, Joaquín Cosío, anchors the cast playing Pops but the rest of the young cast is also comprised of talented Latinx actors. In addition to its excellent authentic casting, the series really explores the negative affects of gentrification, tackles what happens when Latinx individuals are raised outside of their communities, and even takes on deportation.
Mishel Prada, Melissa Barrera, Ser Anzoategui, & Many More
Inspired by the short story, “Pour Vida,” Vida centers on two estranged Mexican-American sisters who reconnect after a death in their family causes them to uncover some big family secrets.
Vida stars Dominican/Puerto Rican actor Mishel Prada and Mexican actor Melissa Barrera as the two sisters. The show has been hailed for being “unapologetically Latinx,” never shying away from using specific Spanish words without translating them for English-speaking audiences and exploring uncommon Mexican folklore.
You’re The Worst (2014-2019)
Desmin Borges as Edgar Quintero
You’re The Worst is a severely underrated, binge-worthy dark comedy on FX (and Hulu). Its dry humor and poignant look at real human problems make it a must-see for fans of shows like Love, Fleabag, or Bojack Horseman.
Borges plays Edgar Quintero on the show. He’s the over-accommodating best friend of writer Jimmy Shive-Overly, a talented home cook and an aspiring comedy writer and actor. Additionally, Edgar’s character is a war veteran and goes through intense paranoia and anxiety attacks caused by his PTSD. Borges does an impeccable job of portraying the real-life problems that veterans face today, as well as navigating the tricky waters of toxic friendships and what they mean for people.
America Ferrara as Amy Sosa
The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants actor America Ferrara’s most recent TV role has been on NBC’s Superstore, which takes a closer look at the lives of big box store employees a la Costco/Sam’s Club covering everything from discrimination to funny break room conversations at the Superstore. Ferrara’s been nominated for four awards for her role on the show and won the Gracie Award for Leading Actress.
Amy is a woman who worked hard and was very successful in her field and in motherhood. She rose through the ranks at the store and even became store manager and Director of Customer Experience. From the beginning she advocates against Latinx stereotyping by refusing to work a salsa stand, highlighting the micro aggressions that people of different ethnicities can face in the workplace.
Brooklyn 99 (2013-2021)
Stephanie Beatriz as Rosa Diaz
Rosa Diaz is the tough-as-nails, emotionally distant cop full of sarcastic jokes and clever insults. While she has a spiky exterior, Rosa is also an incredibly loyal best friend who cares deeply for the people in her life. She routinely puts herself in danger to help others and is even caught in the middle of a police hostage shootout.
As the show transitioned into its final season during the summer of 2021, the writers were aware of the social issues surrounding police brutality. Rosa’s character, consequently, decided to quit the police force as a statement in response to violence against POC and Latinx communities. She, instead, works as a private investigator and tries to get justice for families and individuals affected by police violence.
Magnum, P.I. (2018-2021)
Jay Hernandez as Thomas Magnum
- Available To Rent On Apple TV
In the 2018 remake of the 1980 original, Hernandez plays the titular character. In the original series, with Tom Selleck playing the lead, Magnum lives a lavish life as a private investigator living in the guest house of Robin Masters, an unseen wealthy author.
In the reboot, Magnum is a former Navy Seal who then becomes a private investigator in Hawaii. The show makes several diversity changes to the original casting, including Hernandez as the lead, a woman in the role of Higgins, and showcasing the experiences of veterans.
Shades Of Blue (2016-2018)
Jennifer Lopez as Harlee Santos
- Available On Amazon Prime Video
It’s not often viewers get to see big movie stars come to the small screen, but Jennifer Lopez executive producing and starring in Shades of Blue is a great opportunity to see the stunning Puerto Rican actor on a more regular basis. Lopez is truly a jack of all trades, juggling film production, a hit TV show, and a music career, as well as her behind-the-scenes work.
Harlee Santos is an incredibly smart woman, who not only raised a daughter alone after escaping an abusive relationship but has navigated through the corruption from NYPD as well as being used as leverage as a criminal informant for the FBI and a skilled double agent at times. Her ability to persevere and fight for justice, even when faced with prison time, is to be admired.
Parks & Recreation (2009-2015)
Aubrey Plaza as April Ludgate
April is a long-standing and loved main character for the wildly popular mockumentary show about local government. Her deadpan delivery of lines and signature stare combined with April’s very relatable quotes gained her a dedicated fan base.
Plaza even had the opportunity to flex her Latinx muscles for a few episodes of the show, acting as the translator and liaison for a visiting local government from Venezuela in one episode. Plaza has done many interviews on diversity in Hollywood and the flack that she’s gotten from embracing her Puerto Rican roots because of her complexion.
Jane The Virgin (2014-2019)
Gina Rodriguez as Jane Villanueva & Justin Baldoni as Rafael Solano (& many more)
Jane The Virgin is a wonderful example of a talented Latinx-studded cast and amazing female-led drama. Most of the core cast is Hispanic, so watching Jane The Virgin is a great way for viewers wanting to be introduced to more Latinx actors to do so.
The show also parodies some of the most stereotypical aspects of telenovelas hilariously, including a “Latin Lover Voiceover,” which is another exposure to Latinx culture that viewers can experience. Even the central plot is telenovela-esque: an accidental insemination at the doctor’s, and the dad happens to be the main character’s teenage crush, and is married. It’s also been nominated for countless awards and won several, including an AFI Award, an ALMA, and a Golden Globe.
Sonny With A Chance (2009-2011)
Demi Lovato As Sonny Munroe
- Available On Disney Channel
Sonny With A Chance was a scripted Disney Channel show about a kids’ version of SNL. Although the Disney show didn’t age well after Lovato left, the original series was a big hit in the early 2000s. In the show, Sonny Munroe, an aspiring actor and comedian, lands a role on the sketch comedy show “So Random!” Shenanigans ensue with the supporting cast members and cast members of the rival studio show, “Mackenzie Falls.”
Demi Lovato is very proud of their Mexican roots. They’ve released several songs in Spanish, as well as doing a PSA for Voto Latino, and have received a Latin American Music Award as well as an ALMA Award for their role on Sonny with a Chance.
Teen Wolf (2011-2017)
Tyler Posey as Scott McCall
Delving into the supernatural and young adult territory is a show all about high school werewolves: Teen Wolf. The show was immensely popular when it aired and Posey plays the lead character who’s bitten by a werewolf one night in the woods. He, and other werewolves and mythical creatures, must navigate pack life, acting like a typical MTV teenager, and being hunted by people who want to wipe them out.
Posey, whose maternal family hails from Zacatecas, Mexico, was awarded an ALMA for his role in the series as well as being nominated for an Imagen Award. Although never stated on the show, Posey said in an interview with Latino Voices of HuffPost that he believes Scott McCall is Latino, like himself.
Santiago Cabrera as Darius Tanz
In this sci-fi suspense series, Cabrera plays a billionaire scientist and CEO of Tanz Industries, Darius Tanz. He’s approached by MIT grad Liam Cole with the discovery that an asteroid is coming toward Earth. The two go to the White House together to inform the President and are told there is already a plan in place – although Cole and Tanz figure out that their plan won’t work, and have to concoct a way to save the planet from disaster.
Cabrera, who is Chilean and has lived all over the world, is a large advocate for diversity in film and television. He’s been nominated for an ALMA and has pushed for Latinx writers in Hollywood to write for Latinx actors to truly tell the experience of Latin Americans and understand them as people. He continues to make a name for himself, being cast in Disney’s Godmothered and Star Trek: Picard as well as a guest appearance on Merlin.