Mainstream television will welcome five new Latina stars in leading roles this fall and they’re not only fighting stereotypes with their roles, but they’re finally starring in TV shows that don’t revolve around, sex, beauty, maids or feature them with heavy accents.
Let us introduce you to some of these leading ladies who are a part of fall’s most anticipated TV lineup.
Karla Souza, How To Get Away With Murder
Mexico City-born Karla Souza is making the small screen jump from Spanish-language telenovelas to the legal drama series, How to Get Away with Murder—the ABC thriller from fScandal executive producer Shonda Rhimes. Souza was cast alongside Viola Davis. When Latin Heat asked if she is playing a non Latina, Souza responded, “At this point, I don’t really know. Pete (Nowalk) actually asked me if I wanted to have my character’s last name changed to be Latin. I was so surprised that he would even ask. And I loved it that the producers were so caring. So I remember Pete saying, ‘The fact that you actually speak French and you’re Mexican, but you lived in Colorado, is very useful. We want to bring all these things into the character.’ So I was very honored and very grateful about that. So I don’t know if it’s going to be the Latina you’re used to seeing on TV, because I feel like there’s a very strong stereotype out there, and I’m happy to kind of show a different side to that.” You can catch the rising star in How to Get Away with Murder Thursday, September 25.
Cristela Alonzo, Cristela
Standup comedian Cristela Alonzo stars in the ABC comedy Cristela, which airs Friday, October 10. Loosely based on Cristela’s life, the show follows the titled character in her sixth year of law school when she’s finally on the brink of landing her first big (unpaid) internship at a prestigious law firm. The only problem is that her pursuit of success is more ambitious than her traditional Mexican-American family thinks is appropriate. The show airs Friday, October 10. “I am proud of what we created,” she wrote on a blog post on her official website. “We created a show about a girl that lives with her average, American family and works in a world that is out of her comfort zone. It’s a true family show that kids can see with their parents. There isn’t a raunchy joke in it and it’s genuinely funny. I think it’s a show that the Latino community would be proud of. I’ve tried to honor the culture and give us a voice.”
Forever, Alana De La Garza
Mexican-American Alana De La Garza stars in Forever—a police procedural with a medical twist—alongside Welsh-born Ioan Gruffield as Dr. Henry Morgan, a top flight medical examiner, with an startling secret—he’s immortal. Garza plays his new partner Detective Jo Martinez. It’s a good thing she’s no stranger to procedural dramas. The actress played assistant DA Connie Rubirosa in the Law & Order franchise from 2006 to 2011. One of the aspects that really has Garza excited is the fantasy aspects of the series. “It’s funny. I always play a very serious strong woman, and I’m a goober. I’m a total dork. So doing something that is more fantastical and adventurous in the way this show develops, it appeals to me, and it’s fun, Garza told Latin Heat. From day one, I felt like I’d known the people on this show my whole life. And it’s lovely. It’s beautiful when that comes together.” Forever premiers Tuesday, September 23 on ABC.
Gina Rodriguez, Jane The Virgin
The Puerto Rican-American, NYU Tisch school graduate Gina Rodriguez stars in The CW’s family drama Jane The Virgin. Rodriguez plays the titled character based on a successful Venezuela telenovela written by Perla Farias called Juana La Virgen. The actress recently admitted to The Hollywood Reporter that she strives to be the next Meryl Streep. “You don’t often get opportunities to play strong, intelligent, independent, women that are fighting for their dreams,” Rodriguez told THR. This show premiers on The CW’s primetime spot, Monday, October 13 and it’s one show you don’t want to miss.
Bianca A. Santos, Happyland
Bianca Santos, previously on ABC Family’s hit show The Fosters will lead the cast of MTV‘s comedy pilot Happyland—a soapy teen comedy exploring the underbelly of one of the country’s most popular theme parks and those who work there. The show centers on Santos’ character Lucy, a cynical teen working as a greeter at the park where her single mother has also played a fairytale princess for 15 years. Finally, a teen show that explores the realities of growing up and falling in love with a Latina as its leading lady. The show is set to premier on Tuesday, September 30.