The Young Hispanic Hollywood Class of 2013

11:00 AM 11/22/2013

by THR Staff

Zoe Saldana, "Gravity's" Jonas Cuaron and NBCU's Cesar Conde are just a few of the 40-plus Latino powerhouses age 40 and under who are remaking the industry in their own image -- and have a few choice words to say about Lifetime's "Devious Maids."

Selena Gomez
Pete Larson
  • Morena Baccarin


    Morena Baccarin

    The Rio de Janeiro-born actress scored her biggest gig in 2011 when she landed the part of Damian Lewis' put-upon wife in the Showtime hit Homeland, for which she earned her first Emmy nomination this year.

    On her fans: "When I was most recently in Brazil, a fan stopped me on the street and said how happy they were that I represented the country. It made me tear up."

  • Jordana Brewster


    Jordana Brewster
    Getty Images

    For Brewster, who grew up watching telenovelas in Brazil, a lengthy stint on As the World Turns was an apt entree into Hollywood. But it was her role opposite Vin Diesel in the Fast & Furious franchise that launched her to global stardom.

    Today, Brewster pulls double duty filming Fast & Furious 7 and TNT's Dallas reboot, which averaged 3.8 million viewers last season.

    "I've been lucky to be part of two franchises that celebrate multiculturalism," says Brewster, who tweets on set to her more than 196,000 followers.

    What's changed for Latinos: "Not having one stereotype -- that's a big step forward."

  • 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine's' Latinas

    Stephanie Beatriz, 32, and Melissa Fumero, 31

    Stephanie Beatriz, 32, and Melissa Fumero, 31, are regulars on Fox's buzzy cop comedy starring Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher. Beatriz, whose mother is Bolivian-Brazilian and father is Colombian-German, played Sofia Vergara's sister on Modern Family; Fumero, of Cuban parentage, had a recurring role on Gossip Girl.

    Their series recently scored a full-season pickup at Fox after critical praise and standout ratings.

    Beatriz's dream director: "I've been obsessed with Alfonso Cuaron for a long time. I would play A Little Princess over and over until we busted the tape." On Fumero's dream collaborator, "Anybody in the comedy world. Brooklyn Nine-Nine definitely makes me thirsty for other comedy experiences."


  • The 'Cesar Chavez' Team

    Diego Luna, 33, and Michael Pena, 37

    Mexico City-born Diego Luna, 33, starred opposite Gael Garcia Bernal in Y Tu Mama Tambien, Sean Penn in Milk and Matt Damon in Elysium. But it's Cesar Chavez: An American Hero, a biopic he is directing and producing about the civil-rights activist due out in 2014, that is perhaps closest to his heart.

    Mexican-American actor Michael Pena, 37, who stars as Chavez, also has several critically acclaimed projects under his belt, including Oscar winner Crash and End of Watch with Jake Gyllenhaal. Pena, who next will be seen in David O. Russell's American Hustle and recently worked on Fury opposite Brad Pitt, says his father, a farm worker, was touched when he told him he'd be starring as the iconic labor activist. "He is one of those guys who doesn't show very much emotion, but I knew that it was special."

    On Pena's favorite cultural tradition: "Every time I go to Chicago: Polish sausages from Taylor Street and carne asada tortas from Atotonilco restaurant."

  • Jonas Cuaron


    Jonas Cuaron

    Cuaron, 30, and his father, Alfonso, co-wrote Gravity, which rocketed to the top of the box office, earning $514.9 million worldwide as of Nov. 18. The Mexico-born director-writer's next project, Desierto, is a Spanish-language thriller set at the Mexico border that will star Gael Garcia Bernal.

    Dream actors: "There's a great wave of Hispanic actors, from more established ones like Gael Garcia to Edgar Ramirez and Oscar Isaac. They transcend the stereotype of what the Hispanic actor is," says Cuaron.

    What's changed for Latinos: "Latinos are starting to have a really strong voice, and it's reflected in entertainment. When you're writing scripts, you're asked to create a four-quadrant movie, which includes people under and over a certain age and males and females, and I always joke that you have to add the fifth quadrant so it includes Hispanics."

  • 'Devious Maids' Cast

    Dania Ramirez, 34, and Roselyn Sanchez, 40

    Produced by Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry and Eva Longoria, Lifetime's fastest-growing series features Latina women including Dania Ramirez, 34, and Roselyn Sanchez, 40.

    With a viewership that's about 18 percent Hispanic, Maids saw its first-season finale reach a series high of 3 million. Dominican-American Ramirez next will star in William Monahan's thriller Mojave, and Sanchez, of Puerto Rican heritage, will take part in Latino-geared animation series La Golda.

    Ramirez's role model: "Edward James Olmos, because he was the first U.S.-born Hispanic actor to be nominated for an Oscar, for Stand and Deliver."

  • Guillermo Diaz


    Guillermo Diaz

    "I've never made a film in Spanish and really want to," says the Scandal star, who would want that movie to be directed by Pedro Almodovar.

    ABC's hit drama continues to set series highs, averaging 9.25 million total viewers. Meanwhile, Diaz, whose credits include Weeds and cult hit stoner movie Half Baked, continues to generate buzz from his 150,000-plus Twitter followers for his heartbreaking portrayal of reformed assassin Huck opposite Emmy nominee Kerry Washington

    Dream project: "I want to play legendary Cuban comedian-actor Alvarez Guedes in a movie. My family would play his comedy records all the time when I was growing up, and we would cry with laughter."

  • Melonie Diaz


    Melonie Diaz

    "People stop me in the street and are just thankful that the story is being told," says Diaz, 29, of the emotional response she's gotten for her work in Fruitvale Station, The Weinstein Co.'s awards contender about the real-life shooting of Oscar Grant.

    Diaz, whose grandparents were born in Puerto Rico, will continue her hot streak with a role on HBO's upcoming season of Girls and in the character-driven drama X/Y with America Ferrera and Amber Tamblyn.

    Role model: "When Salma Hayek did Frida, she did that on her own," says Diaz. "She took on an executive role and that's inspiring, women who aren't just actresses anymore."

  • Elizabeth Espinosa


    In addition to reporting twice daily on L.A.'s KTLA, Espinosa, 37, anchors news program Sin Limites for CNN Latino, which, since launching in January, reaches more than one-third of Hispanic homes in the U.S.

    Dream interview: Angelina Jolie, because Espinosa admires the actress' use of celebrity to raise awareness on issues. "This is something I absolutely cherish," says the anchor, whose disabled sibling motivated her own advocacy, "given my plight to bring an understanding of people with severe mental disabilities like my younger brother."

  • Fox Deportes Anchors

    Maria del Valle and Pablo Alsina

    In 2012, Maria del Valle, 32, a Venezuelan model who began as a reporter with Azteca America, joined Fox Deportes -- which is on track to finish out its second year as the No. 1 Latino sports network -- as one of its main anchors.

    Also on her show Central Fox: Pablo Alsina, 36, who additionally serves as a play-by-play announcer for UFC. "Both English- and Spanish-speaking sports viewers crave the best live events and desire a high level of energy, regardless of language," says Alsina.

    Del Valle's dream interview, "[Tennis player] Rafael Nadal."

  • Selena Gomez


    Selena Gomez

    While she's perhaps best known from Wizards of Waverly Place, this year marked Gomez's official departure from all things Disney with her role in the very adult Spring Breakers opposite a cussing, gun-toting James Franco. Up next? A leading role in William H. Macy's directorial debut, Rudderless.

    Big number: Gomez hit No. 1 with her debut solo album, Stars Dance, which sold 97,000 copies in its first week in July.

  • Oscar Isaac


    Oscar Isaac

    Isaac, 33, who brought to life memorable characters in 2009's Balibo and 2011's Drive, gets his moment as the title character in the Coen brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis, which won the Grand Prix at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

    The comedy-drama about New York's folk music scene in the 1960s also stars Carey Mulligan, John Goodman and Justin Timberlake, but it's Isaac who dominates as a singer-songwriter determined to make it.

    Recent challenge of the experience of singing songs live, the Guatemalan-Cuban American has said: "Let's call it terrifyingly awesome."

  • Eva Longoria


    Eva Longoria

    Three years after being named Forbes' highest-paid TV actress for her starring role on Desperate Housewives, Longoria flexes new professional muscle as a producer on Lifetime's highly successful Devious Maids and on the animated Hulu web series Mother Up!, which sees her pulling double duty as the show's lead voice.

    In front of the camera, the Mexican-American actress is tapping into her roots with Frontera, an indie about a Mexican immigrant who kills a sheriff's wife during a robbery, and Demian Bichir's directorial debut Refugio, about a man born into a circus in Mexico.

    On her Latino fans: "They're loyal. They can turn on the TV, on an English-language network and see a part of themselves reflected. There's a great amount of pride in our community when one of our own is shining."

  • Mario Lopez


    Mario Lopez
    Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

    The Latino broadcast kingpin in the English-language market now hosts The X Factor's third season on top of other duties for Extra, NuvoTV's Mario Lopez: One on One and radio show On With Mario Lopez for MYFM.

    Proud to be Latino: "My culture is very important; it's a huge part of my life," he tells THR.

  • Demi Lovato


    Demi Lovato

    This year, the Disney alum has found a new home on Fox, returning for her second stint in a judge's chair next to Simon Cowell on The X Factor and romancing Naya Rivera on Glee.

    Meanwhile, her fourth studio album, Demi, which dropped in May, sold 110,000 copies in its first week. In honor of her Mexican-American father, who died in June, the former Sonny With a Chance star was inspired to create the Lovato Treatment Scholarship program, which pays for treatment for individuals suffering from mental illness. Nearly three years after completing treatment for her own mental health issues and substance abuse, Lovato opted to spend her 21st birthday in August on a charity mission in Africa. "It was the best week of my entire life," she says.

    Proud to be Latina: "When I tell people I'm Hispanic, they're like, 'Wait, what?' Just because I don't look it doesn't mean I can't represent it. It means a lot to me."

  • Chiquis Marin


    Chiquis Marin

    Janney "Chiquis" Marin couldn't bring herself to watch the last six episodes of Mun2's reality series I Love Jenni, which documented the months leading up to the death of her mother, Latin music icon Jenni Rivera, in a 2012 plane crash.

    The Mexican-American star -- who also starred in the series' spinoff Chiquis 'n Control, the No. 1 Hispanic program in its time slot for the cabler that caters to a young Latino audience -- is writing a book about her mother and recording her first studio album, which she hopes to release in February. "It helps me with the healing process," she says.

    Dream project: "To be the Oprah Winfrey of the Latin world was one of my mom's goals. That's something my mom and I had always spoken about, a talk show together."

  • Natalie Martinez


    Natalie Martinez
    Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    The Cuban-American actress has cornered the market on playing cops, from detectives on Detroit 1-8-7 and CSI: NY to her beleaguered deputy sheriff on Under the Dome, the series premiere of which drew 13.1 million viewers -- a summer best for CBS.

    Next up will be features Run All Night, starring Liam Neeson, and Selfless opposite Ryan Reynolds.

    What's changed for Latinos: "It's not that side role of the Latino gardener or the maid. Now Hollywood knows who the viewers are. The majority of Latinos are going to movies and giving us these huge ratings on shows like Under the Dome."

  • The Mun2 Music Hosts

    Yarel Ramos, 26 and Guad Venegas, 31

    Yarel Ramos, 26, who hosts teen music-news show Reventon, has covered the presidential election for Mun2 and was part of E! Latino's launch.

    Guad Venegas, 31, is the face of Mun2Pop, which has reached 2 million viewers since its 2013 premiere. (Like Ramos, he covered the 2012 Olympics for Mun2 and Deportes Telemundo.)

    Next month, Venegas will move to Telemundo's nightly news program Al Rojo Vivo, pulling double duty with Mun2Pop through the end of 2014. He also is slated to host Miss Universe on Telemundo.

    Bilingual edge: "The important thing for me as a host is to have the freedom to use either language," says Venegas.

  • 'Orange Is the New Black's' Latinas

    Dascha Polanco, 30, Jackie Cruz, 26, Elizabeth Rodriguez, 32

    Netflix's show set in a women's prison was the most-watched original series in the streaming service's history thanks to the acting of its diverse, mostly female cast, including Dascha Polanco, 30, Jackie Cruz, 26, and Elizabeth Rodriguez, 32.

    Dominican-American Polanco, who plays Dayanara Diaz, appreciates creator Jenji Kohan's willingness to show "the diversity within Latinas -- nationality, skin color, size, looks."

    Cruz's dream project: The Dominican actress, who plays Flaca, would like a Scandal for Latinas.

    Polanco's role models: "Zoe Saldana and Michelle Rodriguez."

    Rodriguez on what's changed for Latinos: Says the Puerto Rican actress, who plays Aleida Diaz: "There are many more shows because of cable channels and the Internet. It's showing a bigger scope of what we're capable of."

  • Lana Parrilla


    Lana Parrilla

    Parrilla got her break on the Michael J. Fox comedy Spin City, which led to a slew of roles on shows such as NBC's Boomtown and Fox's 24 before the half-Italian, half-Puerto Rican Brooklyn native entered the fairy tale world of ABC's steady Sunday stalwart Once Upon a Time (averaging 7.5 million viewers in live-plus-same-day in season three).

    Dream role: "Rita Hayworth, whose father was Spanish. Her rise to being an icon was groundbreaking."

  • Mauricio Pedroza


    Discovered in Mexico City in 2006 during ESPN Deportes' casting event Dream Job, Pedroza has become one of the most recognized young faces of the Spanish-language network. He serves as a SportsCenter anchor and is among the lineup of hosts for Futbol Picante, the network's most watched and highest-rated program covering Mexican soccer.

    Dream job: "I have two lifelong dreams: to do play-by-play for a World Cup final and a Super Bowl," says Pedroza.

  • Daniella Pineda


    Daniella Pineda

    Mexican-American actress Pineda had been working as a maid when she landed her first series regular role on The CW's The Vampire Diaries spinoff, The Originals. She's now writing her own screenplay.

    "I'd like to see movies about Mexican-Americans where the subject isn't about the fact that they're Mexican-Americans," she says.

    Untold story: "When I was growing up, as far as pop culture goes, it was Salma Hayek, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira. Those were the archetypes: voluptuous, sexy. I'm an awkward, twiggy, third-generation Mexican-American who loves horror movies. Where am I? Just a little bit more diversity within the diversity."

  • Aubrey Plaza


    Aubrey Plaza

    The half-Puerto Rican actress with 500,000 Twitter followers is best known for playing deadpan April Ludgate on NBC's Parks and Recreation, now in its sixth season.

    After a lead role in 2012's Safety Not Guaranteed, she starred in this summer's raunchy comedy The To Do List.

    Next up is zombie comedy flick Life After Beth with Anna Kendrick.

    Dream project: "I would love to speak Spanish in a movie and would die for a chance to be in a Pedro Almodovar movie."

  • Tyler Posey


    Tyler Posey

    As Teen Wolf's titular Scott McCall, Posey, whose mom is Mexican-American, leads a cast that drew 2.1 million viewers to the midseason finale.

    While MTV's top-rated scripted show doesn't allow Posey to flex his funny bone, the actor showed off his comedic side in Funny or Die's The Giving Tree spoof, which has drawn more than 130,000 views since August.

    Role model: "Antonio Banderas, since I was 5. I loved him in Desperado! Actually, I love Salma Hayek, too."

  • Edgar Ramirez


    Edgar Ramirez

    In addition to starring as Ares, the god of war, in the tentpole Wrath of the Titans, Venezuelan Ramirez has taken on several roles based on real-life Latinos, playing 1970s terrorist Carlos the Jackal in the award-winning TV series Carlos and Simon Bolivar in the big-budget Libertador, which screened at the Toronto Film Festival.

    The actor, who speaks five languages, is in Panama shooting Hands of Stone, in which he plays legendary boxer Roberto Duran opposite Robert De Niro. "Since I first started working in the U.S., being a Latino has always been an advantage for me," he says. "It's something that has made me special and different, and more suited for certain roles and projects."

    Untold story: "I think the Mexican Revolution deserves a big epic. Pancho Villa deserves a big movie to tell his story."

  • Sara Ramirez


    Sara Ramirez

    Best known for playing Dr. Callie Torres on ABC's Grey's Anatomy, the Mexican- and Irish-American actress saw 9 million viewers tune in to last season's finale. "I'm aware of the diverse fan base Grey's attracts, including Latinos," says Ramirez, crediting the writers for the realistic depiction of her character's ethnicity.

    Ramirez (who amassed 108,000 followers in her first month on Twitter) also voices Queen Miranda on Disney Junior's hit animated series Sofia the First.

    What hasn't changed for Latinos: "I find it so disappointing when a Latino character isn't more interesting than a vocal characteristic."

  • Monica Raymund


    Monica Raymund

    The half-Dominican Raymund made a mark in 2009 when she starred in Fox's Lie to Me, which led to a recurring stint on CBS' The Good Wife. The actress now stars on NBC drama Chicago Fire, which averages 8.1 million viewers and spawned a midseason spinoff, Chicago PD, after one season.

    What hasn't changed for Latinos: "I don't like to point fingers, but ... Devious Maids. That show is written by a very smart writer, a well-seasoned master of TV [creator Marc Cherry], but I read that script and refused to audition because it forces the stereotype that all Latinos are housekeepers intersecting with rich men. A project like that interprets the Latin individual as a two-dimensional character and is still rooted in a pre-21st century view of the Latin demographic; it's a different person now."


  • Emily Rio


    Emily Rios

    With memorable turns on Breaking Bad, Friday Night Lights and, most recently, FX's The Bridge, Rios is a star on the rise.

    A native Angeleno, she was barely a teenager when a talent scout approached her and by 15, the Mexican-American actress had booked the lead in indie hit Quinceanera.

    Rios, who recently taped an episode of NBC's Grimm, admits she keeps part-time jobs at a restaurant and at a gym, where she works with people with developmental disabilities.

    Untold story: "I understand that our Latinos always want to show their pride, but there are a lot of people who are completely disconnected from their roots. I would like to see that. I grew up around that. It's very honest."

  • Naya Rivera


    Naya Rivera

    The half-Puerto Rican Glee actress has seen 330,000 streams on YouTube of her first single, "Sorry," since its Sept. 10 premiere.

    Not surprising, considering her 4 million Twitter followers and average of 8 million viewers over Glee's season four.

    Dream project: "I've always wanted to play Lena Horne really badly. She was such a strong woman and was chasing a lot of racial issues at the time."

  • Michelle Rodriguez


    Michelle Rodriguez

    The Puerto Rican and Dominican-American Rodriguez is the go-to for overall badassery in action, from Avatar to the Resident Evil films to the highly lucrative Fast & Furious franchise.

    She most recently appeared in Robert Rodriguez's sequel Machete Kills and will be seen in next summer's Fast & Furious 7.

    On her Latino fans: "A lot of it is ticket sales; they buy tickets and talk about [the films] with me on Twitter."

  • Zoe Saldana


    Zoe Saldana

    Saldana has become known for her high-profile sci-fi work, starring in Avatar, the Star Trek franchise and the upcoming ensemble film Guardians of the Galaxy, but she has balanced that with powerful performances in dramas, including 2012's The Words and Scott Cooper's upcoming thriller Out of the Furnace.

    The Dominican and Puerto Rican American actress is working with producer Guillermo del Toro and director Jorge R. Gutierrez on the animated Day of the Dead story The Book of Life.

    Saldana also is making big moves behind the camera: She and her sisters, Mariel and Cisely, have partnered with Cinestar Productions in a first-look deal with Lionsgate's Pantelion to produce films and TV content specifically for Latino audiences.

    "We found ourselves in the past 10 years being very underwhelmed by the material that's out there," Saldana tells THR, "so either we sit here and complain, or we form our own company." She's aiming to greenlight several projects in the next six months.

    Cultural tradition: "One of the great things that the Latino culture has in common with Asian cultures is that we celebrate our dead. It's something as simple as lighting a candle in front of the portrait of somebody that you love and remembering them."

    Dream director: "Alfonso Cuaron. I just saw Gravity and it blew me away. Also, Alejandro Amenabar, who has such a beautiful heart when it comes to storytelling."

  • Rodrigo Santoro


    Rodrigo Santoro

    The Rio de Janeiro native, who debuted as Karl in Universal's Love Actually and made his mark as Xerxes in Warner Bros.' 300 (the sequel comes out March 7), took home several best actor awards at Latin American festivals for his star turn as Brazilian World Cup champion Heleno de Freitas in the indie biopic Heleno.

    Currently, Santoro toggles between working alongside Will Smith in Warner Bros.' upcoming Focus and associate producing the biopic of another national icon, Pele.

    What's changed for Latinos: "Ten years ago, when I did my first job, Roman Spring, I was reading things that were much more specific Latino, but now globalization has changed the world."

  • The (New) Teen Stars

    Bella Thorne, 16, and Rico Rodriguez, 15

    Much like the Disney darlings before her, half-Cuban Bella Thorne, 16, is poised for stardom after taking her final bow on Shake It Up!, whose final Nov. 10 episode pulled in 3.4 million viewers. With multiple film projects (The Familymoon with Adam Sandler; Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day with Steve Carell), an album deal with Hollywood Records (label home to Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez) and Random House series Autumn Falls, Thorne's 4.6 million Twitter followers have lots to tweet about.

    Meanwhile, for the past four years, Mexican-American actor Rico Rodriguez, 15, has played Manny Delgado on ABC's Emmy-winning Modern Family, which drew 11.7 million viewers to its season-five premiere. Rodriguez recently wrapped the 2014 coming-of-age film Endgame and started a production company with his sister Raini.

    Rodriguez's dream collaborators: "I would love to work with Ben Affleck, Tom Hanks, Christoph Waltz, Quentin Tarantino, Kenny Ortega and, of course, my sister Raini Rodriguez."

    Why Thorne's proud to be Latina: "When I was born, I had all black hair. It fell out and grew in blond. When my dad [who was Cuban and died in 2007] first saw me, my mom said that he said, 'Oh, finally, I have a Latina princess.' Out of my family, even though we're all Cuban, I consider myself very, very Latin because he did."

  • Telemundo Sports Hosts

    Karim Mendiburu, 37, and Mirella Grisales, 36

    Karim Mendiburu, 37, has served as host on both Titulares y Mas and Ritmo Deportivo for the past decade, covering the Olympics, World Cup and Super Bowl.

    Mirella Grisales, 36, joined Titulares in 2004 after a stint on Telefutura.

    Grisales on what's changed for Latinos: "Now we see reality shows and TV series where there are entire families and multiple characters who are Hispanic, because they could be your neighbor, co-worker or your son's classmate."

  • Telenovela Stars Today

    Gaby Espino, 36, Aaron Diaz, 31, Sebastian Rulli, 38, Angelique Boyer, 25

    One of the most popular telenovelas now on air, Telemundo's Santa Diabla stars Venezuelan actress Gaby Espino, 36, as a woman plotting the perfect revenge, while 31-year-old Mexican co-star Aaron Diaz plays her love interest.

    On Nov. 18, Univision's Lo Que la Vida Me Robo (What Life Stole From Me) reunites Argentine-Mexican actor Sebastian Rulli, 38, and French-born Mexican actress Angelique Boyer, 25, for the first time since Teresa, which garnered 7.7 million viewers for the finale in 2011.

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