Latinas were an undeniable force in 2017. It was a big year for Latina representation in activism, politics and pop culture — and it’s hopefully just the beginning. These 10 women are among the Latinas who made their voices heard this year.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico held a press conference during which she appealed for adequate and efficient federal aid.
“We are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency and the bureaucracy,” Yulín Cruz said at the time. “So I am done being polite. I am done being politically correct. I am mad as hell.”
Shortly after, Trump launched a tweet storm against Cruz. He criticized her handling of the crisis, called her “nasty,” and said that she had “poor leadership ability.” Cruz stood her ground, got to work and in the meantime became a fresh face for the resistance.
Originally from Mexico, Pascual works as a strawberry picker and is one of the faces on this year’s Time’s Person of the Year magazine cover. She says that she has been repeatedly stalked and sexually harassed while on the job, and threats of violence from her abuser left her feeling desperate and voiceless.
“He threatened to harm my children and me,” Pascual told Time. “That’s why I kept quiet.” Ultimately, support from her fellow agriculture workers empowered her to reveal what she’s had to endure in the fields. She publicly spoke out about the harassment at a march in Los Angeles.
In a New York Times op-ed titled “Harvey Weinstein Is My Monster Too,” Hayek alleges that the disgraced film mogul sexually propositioned her numerous times. She also alleges that during the making of the film “Frida,” Weinstein constantly berated her, physically dragged her at a party, threatened to kill her and forced her to do a full-frontal nude sex scene.
“I hope that adding my voice to the chorus of those who are finally speaking out will shed light on why it is so difficult, and why so many of us have waited so long,” she writes in the essay. “Men sexually harassed because they could. Women are talking today because, in this new era, we finally can.”
The Republican strategist and CNN commentator has openly discussed breaking with her party and voting for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. She has since criticized Republicans for their unchecked loyalty to Trump, and she has no problem telling someone that they need to back off.
During coverage of the recent senate special election in Alabama, Navarro told fellow Republican commentator Ed Martin — a staunch Trump supporter — that she’d had it with his interrupting. She then broke out in song and dance, gleefully chanting “Oh happy day” at the news that Doug Jones, the Democratic candidate, had pulled ahead to win the close race.
The part-Dominican rapper officially arrived this year, with her infectious debut single “Bodak Yellow” reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. She became the first solo female rapper to reach the top spot since Lauryn Hill in 1998. “Bodak Yellow” has since gone triple platinum, and Cardi is showing no signs of slowing down. She’s featured on two songs currently in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100: Migos’s “MotorSport” and G-Eazy’s “No Limit.” She also recently launched the aptly named “Curated by Cardi,” a shoe collaboration with Steve Madden.
The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Davison Avilés was born in the border town of Nogales, Arizona and ultimately went on to graduate from Harvard University and Stanford Law. As Disney/Pixar’s lead cultural consultant, she has helped bring stories like “Handy Manny,” “Elena of Avalor” and — most recently — “Coco” to life in an authentic and culturally accurate way.
“It’s ironic because what we’re here trying to do is be storytellers about our culture, for our culture, by our culture, but at the same time, to do that you have to realize that you can’t just do that in a vacuum — you’re going to need help,” Davison Avilés told HipLatina. “Getting your own footing and your sense of place takes time.”
“Coco” has been a huge hit at the box office this year, grossing more than $400 million worldwide.
“Despacito,” the song that was downright inescapable for most of 2017, probably wouldn’t have existed without the Panama-born singer-songwriter. Along with Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, Ender is a co-writer of the biggest hit of the year. The “Despacito” remix featuring Justin Bieber spent 16 weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100. When the Grammy nominations were announced in November, Ender became the first Latina to ever be nominated in the Song of the Year category.
Last year, Cortez Masto became the first Latina senator after winning Senator Harry Reid’s seat in Nevada. A former Nevada attorney general and the granddaughter of a Mexican immigrant, Cortez Masto campaigned on immigration overhaul and future Supreme Court picks before the Senate. She’s since emerged as an ardent supporter of the DREAM Act and has called on Congress to pass the legislation before Dreamers are deported en masse.
The star of Freeform’s “The Fosters” has been tapped to voice the character of Miss America — aka America Chavez — in Marvel’s upcoming animated feature film, “Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors.” Miss America made her debut as a Marvel character in 2011, and she’s the first Latina LGBT character in Marvel universe. Ramirez, who’s part Colombian and part Mexican, said that she’s “honored" to be Miss America and to help usher in a new generation of Marvel superheroes.
Earlier this year, Alynda Segarra and her band, Hurray for the Riff Raff, released “The Navigator,” a concept album that explores her Puerto Rican identity. The result is a body of work that allows Segarra to finally embrace her heritage in a way that previously felt off-limits.
“Before, when I heard Latin sounds in popular music, I thought: That music belongs to everyone,” Segarra told the New York Times. “Now I think: Oh, that’s the sound of where I came from. Look what we brought to the culture. Listen to what we added.”