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Latinas Poderosas Who Inspire Us

by Karina Corona |

As you all know, we here at SALSAOLOGY are all about women supporting women. We believe that when we support one another and build each other up, incredible things can happen-- there's plenty of room for each of us to grow and succeed!

In honor of Women's History Month and International Women's Day (March 8th), we're sharing some Latinas Poderosas who are currently inspiring us. Poderosa mean powerful in Spanish-- a word that is very fitting to describe these women who have already made or are currently making a positive impact on the people around them, while in the eye of the mainstream media. 

Each day this week we will share a new Latina Poderosa, along with some background as to who she is, where you may know her from, and why she inspire's us. Check back every day this week, to see who is the Latina Poderosa of the day!

Latinas Poderosas

Yalitza Aparicio

Yalitza Aparicio Martinez is a 25 year old Mexican actress from Oaxaca, Mexico. Just a couple of years ago, Yalitza was studying to become a preschool teacher in her small town. Now she’s an Oscar nominated actress, breaking stereotypes and representing Indigenous people on the big screen.

Aparicio’s audition for the role of Cleo in the film ROMA, resulted from her pregnant sister asking her to fill in for her at the casting. Aparicio was called back to a second and third audition, where she was casted for the protagonist role of Cleo by director Alfonso Cuarón himself-- to which she accepted at the time because she wanted a way to pay off her student debt. Before she knew it, Yalitza’s life was changed drastically as she found herself in front of the camera and then the public eye, as her performance in ROMA began to be recognized.

Yalitza became the first Indigenous woman to be nominated for best actress at the Oscars, as well as the first Indigenous woman on the cover of Vogue Mexico-- a magazine that for years has been known mostly feature light-skinned artists. Although she did not win the Oscar for the category, Yalitza is still very much a winner in eyes of her supporters and the thousands of women who see themselves in her as she creates awareness of the Indigenous population, and the inequality and socioeconomic division in Mexico. 

During an interview with Flaunt Magazine, Yalitza said she would like to begin training to continue her acting career and focus on roles that feature women of the real world. As for now, there are no hints as to what her next career move will be, but one thing's for sure-- Yalitza has proved it is possible to break through stereotypes and accomplish dreams you may not even have known you had. As long as you work hard, and believe in yourself, you can do anything you want to do and be whoever you want to be.

We leave you with this inspiring quote from Yalitza herself, during an interview in Mexico City“Lo más importante es que nosotras, como mujeres, siempre podemos salir adelante. No importan los estereotipos, siempre podemos aspirar a estar en una película o en la portada de una revista.”

Translation: "The most important thing is that we, as woman, can always get ahead. The stereotypes don't matter because we can always aspire to be in a film or on the cover of a magazine."

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also known as AOC, is a 29 year old American Democratic politician and activist. Born in the Bronx, New York City, AOC is of Puerto-Rican descent. In 2017, AOC was working as both a waitress and bartender in order to help support her family. Fast forward one year later and she is now making history as the youngest woman to ever be elected to Congress.

AOC’s Democratic primary win over Joseph Crowley, who represented the Bronx and Queens districts for 10 terms, shocked the nation and proved that she has a following who is just as passionate about change and equality, as her. Ocasio-Cortez then went on to defeat Republican Anthony Pappas, in the midterm elections. AOC has been serving at the U.S. representative for New York’s 14th congressional district since Jan 3, 2019.

Before she was making history at 29 years old, AOC graduated cum laude from Boston University, started a children’s book publishing company that focused on books that portrayed the Bronx in a positive way, worked as an educational director for the nonprofit National Hispanic Institute, worked as an organizer for Senator Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, and even traveled to Flint, Michigan and Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota to speak to those affected by the Flint Water Crisis and Dakota Access Pipeline. It was during her visit to North Dakota that she was inspired to begin working towards change for her own community.

AOC began campaigning while she was still working as a waitress and bartender, rejecting corporate money and instead focusing on a grassroots approach. She went door-to-door talking to potential voters, persuading them to go to the polls and exercise their right to vote. AOC’s democratic socialist platform is founded on the ideas of Medicare for all, fully funded public schools and universities, universal job guarantee, housing as a human right, justice-system reform, immigration reform, a new “green deal” to combat climate change, and campaign-finance reform.

There’s no doubt that AOC has always been a trailblazer, who is proud of her roots and is always ready to defy the odds. We leave you with this quote from AOC herself, during an interview with The New York Times, that shows she’s not only true to herself but proud of who she is, “Mentors of mine were under a big pressure to minimize their femininity to make it. I’m not going to do that. That takes away my power. I’m not going to compromise who I am.” 

Patricia Quintana

Patricia Quintana was a Mexican chef, writer, business woman, and professor. Born in Mexico City, Mexico to a family of cattle ranchers, Quintana became curious about the culinary arts at a young age. Quintana studied abroad in Canada, Switzerland and France-- a rare move for Mexican woman at the time. Chef Quintana then returned to her native country to become a chef; always sporting her chef’s jacket specially embroidered with Mexican flowers or the Mexican flag. This was Quintana’s way of representing her heritage but also indicate authority.

In her lifetime, Quintana published more than 28 books, as well as many columns for Vogue Mexico and Mexican newspapers. Quintana published her first book, “ La Cocina Es Un Juego” (“The Kitchen Is a Game”), in 1979 and showed the world her mission was to break stereotypes of Mexican cuisine by focusing on the regional flavors of the country, with great detail. Her first english publication came with her book “The Taste of Mexico”-- a cookbook showcasing recipes from different regions of Mexico. To write this cookbook, Quintana traveled all throughout Mexico to research and modify recipes, while also making sure to interact with local producers and cooks from each city to observe and study the local ingredients and cooking practices.

From 2001-2013 Quintana ran and owned the restaurant Izote, located in Mexico City, Mexico, which featured the best in Mexican fine dining. Quintana also created a brand of dressings, “Gavilla”, which today offers about 20 products, and served as the Culinary Director of the Mexican Aviation Board.

Clearing having made her mark in the culinary world, Quintana was named Mexico’s Global Culinary Ambassador by the Mexican Ministry of Tourism. Chef Quintana one numerous awards during her career, including the “Silver Spoon” award from Food Arts magazine.

Quintana passed away on November 26, 2018 at the age of 72, from natural causes, but her legacy lives on forever. We leave you with a quote from Patricia Quintana, during an interview with NBC, that shows her love for her culture, country, and the cuisine of her people: “Mexico offers innumerable riches for tourism, but beyond the beaches, the archeological sites and the ecotourism, there's the cuisine, which should be known throughout the world, providing magnificent opportunities for visitors.”

Gina Rodriguez

Gina Rodriguez is an American actress and activist, best known for her role as Jane Villanueva in the television show Jane the Virgin. Rodriguez was born in Chicago, Illinois to parents of Puerto Rican descent. From a young age Rodriguez knew she wanted to pursue a career in the arts-- although she quickly realized the lack of Latino representation in a positive light on the T.V. shows and movies she watched. This realization soon became the fire fueling her mission: to increase Latino representation in the entertainment industry.

Following her love for the arts, Rodriguez danced salsa for about 10 years until she was accepted into Columbia University’s Theatrical Collaboration program at the age of 16. This program is where Rodriguez discovered her passion for acting and led her to attend and graduate from NYU with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Tisch School of the Arts. Post-graduation Rodriguez began her acting career by taking on small supporting roles, working up to recurring roles and even being offered a role in Lifetime’s television series Devious Maids-- which she turned down because she found the storyline unprogressive for Latinos. In 2014, Rodriguez got her big-break when she landed the lead role in Jane The Virgin. The popularity that came with the beloved television series also provided Rodriguez with a new platform to make a change.

Being in the public eye and press, Rodriguez has taken the opportunity to speak out about the lack of Latino representation in the industry during various press tours; this topic often being brought up by reporters asking why she turned down the role in Devious Maids. Rodriguez is also involved with various charities and philanthropic efforts. To name a few: she is on the Board of Directors for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund that helps open doors for Latino students, she is a partner of the lingerie company Naja that helps women and the environment, and she has launched the We Will Foundation that focuses on helping the less fortunate receive higher level education through the arts. In 2016, Unite4:Humanity recognized Rodriguez’s philanthropic efforts by honoring her with the Young Humanitarian Award.  

Rodriguez has also taken to her social media to raise awareness of underrepresentation in the industry by highlighting the stories of various artists of color through her #MovementMondays hashtag. Every Monday Rodriguez takes to her Instagram page to share an image and a bit of background of an individual who she finds inspiring and trailblazing-- a campaign that other celebrities have picked up in an effort to spread positivity on social media.

There’s no doubt that Gina Rodriguez will continue to use her platform to make a positive change in the tv and film industry, as she works on future projects and continues her philanthropy work. We leave you with a quote from Rodriguez during an early interview with Cosmopolitan that shows that her mission has always been very clear, acting is how I’ll be able to change how Latinos are viewed in media and change how little girls see and talk about themselves.”

Sonia Sotomayor

Sonia Sotomayor is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, born in the Bronx, New York to parents of Puerto Rican descent. Growing up, Sotomayor enjoyed watching the television show Perry Mason and cites it as her first inspiration for pursuing law. Sotomayor attended Princeton University, where she became involved with Puerto Rican groups on campus as a way to feel close to home and in touch with her roots while on this new venture. After graduating summa cum laude from Princeton in 1976 and receiving the Pyne Prize, Sotomayor attended Yale Law School.

Once she passed the bar exam in 1980 and Sotomayor began working as an assistant district attorney in New York City. Four years later she entered private practice, while playing an active role on the board of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, the New York City Campaign Finance Board, and the State of New York Mortgage Agency.

In 1991, President George H.W. Bush nominated Sotomayor for the position of U.S. District Court judge for the Southern District of New York City; a nomination that was confirmed the following year, making her the youngest judge on the court at the time. In 1997, Sotomayor was nominated by President Bill Clinton for the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals and was confirmed by the Senate that same year. While working on the Court of Appeals, Sotomayor began teaching law at NYU and Columbia University.

It was in 2009 that Sotomayor made history when she was nominated by President Barack Obama to become a Supreme Court Judge. The Senate confirmed her nomination, making her the first Latina Supreme Court Justice in U.S. history. Sotomayor has also written two books, with a third titled “ Just Ask: Be Different, Be Brave, Be Yo” set to be released later this year. On top of all her career accomplishments, Sotomayor can add a long list of awards and honors to her name, including various honorary law degrees.

We leave you with this quote from Sotomayor during a visit to San Francisco, where she talks about being proud of one’s background and history, “it is important for all of us to appreciate where we come from and how that history has really shaped us in ways that we might not understand.”

 

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