Latina celebrities make it their priority to empower underprivileged communities through their personal passion projects.
There’s a certain privilege that comes with fame. How one utilizes their privilege affects how others perceive their character. Take, for example, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Nuyorican director who brought the original cast of Hamilton to Puerto Rico in order to revive culture on the devastated island and raise money for the Flamboyan Foundation, an organization that empowers young artists to pursue their dreams. Others make an extra effort to ensure that their fans create a positive impact on the world.
Don’t get me wrong, we’re not saying celebrities who don’t participate in charitable causes are useless or unconcerned with the public good. We’re saying kudos to those who take the initiative to work off the screen and the mic by helping others and giving their fans the opportunity to help others. In honor of Women’s History Month, here are some Latina celebs who impact their communities beyond the spotlight.
Zoe Saldana is a mega-successful actor who’s starred in blockbusters like Avatar, Colombiana and Guardians of the Galaxy. As an artist herself, the Afro-Latina decided to provide other artists with a platform to share their stories and increase Latinx representation in media. Her project, BESE, is “about reconstructing and recontextualizing narratives around how young people connect to today’s America.” Also, it seeks to shift the way mainstream media portrays Latinx identities by providing space for everyday creatives and supporting inclusivity in storytelling.
Rosario Dawson is another acclaimed actor, having starred in many indies and a few Hollywood flicks such as Seven Pounds and Men in Black ll. Not only is she dedicated to empowering Latinx voices through her Voto Latino project, she is also the co-founder of Studio One Eighty Nine. Along with Abrima Erwiah, she has worked to promote a fashion brand that drives social change within African communities. The label seeks to empower its workers by providing economic stability and educational resources while also sharing the beautiful fabrics and designs based on the African culture. Studio One Eighty Nine won a CFDA x Lexus Fashion Award, given to fashion brands that are dedicated to sustainability and supporting communities.
This queen doesn’t really need an introduction because what can J. Lo not do? The performer, producer and philanthropist co-founded her own company, Nuyorican Film Productions, alongside Benny Medina — and it’s associated with some of our favorite shows, such as Good Trouble and World of Dance. The former addresses major issues in our society, while the latter provides artists with the opportunity to dance on a worldwide platform. You can add the Lopez Family Foundation, a global nonprofit devoted to improving medical access for women and children everywhere, to Lopez’s list of humanitarian projects.
After dedicating 20 years of her life to Hollywood, Jessica Alba is no stranger to the spotlight. The actor established her very own family essentials line, The Honest Company, which is geared toward providing families and children with safe, non-chemical products. The brand donated over 18.6 million products to families in need since its founding in 2012.
The City of Las Vegas and Clark County recognizes February 20 as “Eva Longoria Parker Day” to honor her commitment to empowering minority and women-owned businesses. How cool is that? The Corpus Christi native has a lengthy résumé of donations and charitable causes. At the forefront of the Time’s Up movement, Eva Longoria has won no less than 13 awards that recognize her efforts to help people around the world (National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts’ Horizon Award and Latina Visionary and Community Empowerment Award, just to name two). She created the Eva Longoria Foundation back in 2012 to help support Latinx communities through educational and entrepreneurship opportunities.
We believe Selena Gomez is an international star because of her diligent efforts at being transparent about her ongoing battle with Lupus and fighting the stigma around treatment for mental health. The singer and actor is also an executive producer on Netflix’s series Thirteen Reasons Why, which sheds light on the consequences of bullying, social pressures, anxiety and other problems facing our youth as a whole. While Gomez is working on her music career, she also dedicates her time to this “passion project,” making people aware of difficult teenage realities.
The woman who told us that “hips don’t lie” also made it her priority to give back to the children in her native Colombia and around the world. She started the Pies Descalzos Foundation in the late 1990s, aimed at improving the lives of children in Barranquilla, Colombia, through educational and nutritional/health efforts. Shakira then became a leading voice of the ALAS foundation, a nonprofit organization that seeks to implement public policies for the safety and wellness of children across Latin America. Her advocacy also led her to become a UNICEF Global Ambassador, where she extends her work toward countries that lack protections for the rights of women and children. Fun fact: In 2011, President Obama appointed Shakira to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, advising Obama and former education secretary Arne Duncan on issues related to Hispanic students.