“Hot Pepper.” Strictly Dynamite. Mexican Spitfire. These are some of the Old Hollywood films that iconic Mexican actress Lupe Velez starred in. These are also ways to describe Latina women to this day, especially on the large and small screens.
It’s Women’s History Month and we’re lifting up Latina actresses from before the 1940s, the trailblazers and icons who opened the door for Latinxs to represent our culture on the silver screen. You may be surprised to know that there was a solid squad of (light-skinned) Latinas who made their mark on Hollywood as early as the 1910s — at a time when Hollywood was segregated and blackface was the latest entertainment “craze.” Yet, these Latinas helped found Tinseltown and deserve to be remembered.