The recent controversy surrounding Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical drama In The Heights shined a necessary light on Afro-LatinX representation in television in film. As critics drew attention to the omission of darker-skinned leads of African and Latin descent in the HBO Max project, audiences pointed out the plethora of choices director Jon M. Chu had when it came to casting actors who are representative of the predominately Dominican neighborhood of Washington Heights in New York City.
The reality is members of the Afro-LatinX community are all around us. Unfortunately, entertainers have often felt they have to choose between their Blackness and their Latin heritage, leaving their rich mixed ancestry to be muddled and overlooked. Increasingly, actresses such as Gina Torres, who currently stars in 911: Lone Star, and Reagan Gomez continue to speak up about racial and ethnic duality, normalizing the experiences of individuals within their community and exemplifying just how dominant their talent is in Hollywood. And they’re not alone. Check out these women who are proud to share African and Latina heritage.
Zola director Janicza Bravo’s parents are both tailors from Colón, Panama.
Miami rapper Trina’s mother is from the Bahamas while her father is from the Dominican Republic.
Moesha star Shar Jackson’s mother is of African American, Puerto Rican, and Mexican descent.
“Whole Lotta Money” rapper Bia is Puerto Rican and Italian.
Actress Gina Torres’ parents are immigrants from Cuba.
Rapper Rico Nasty’ mother is Puerto Rican and her father is African American.
La La Anthony
Actress and television personality La La Anthony considers refers to herself as Afro-Puerto Rican.
Tessa Thompson’s mother has white, Panamanian and Mexican ancestry while her father is Afro-Panamanian.
Singer Tori Kelly’s father is Jamaican and Puerto Rican. Her mother is German and Irish.
Fresh Prince star Tatyana Ali’s mother is Afro-Panamanian and her father is Indo-Trinidadian.
Both of actress Zoe Saldana’s parents are from the Dominican Republic.
Model Joan Smalls’ father is from Saint Thomas and her mother is Puerto Rican.
In 2013 Rosario Dawson sent out a tweet clarifying her ancestry, writing, “I’m not biracial. I’m half Puerto Rican/Afro Cuban & half Irish/Native Indian.”
Amara La Negara
Singer and reality star Amara La Negara was raised in Miami by her mother who immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic.
Transgender Pose star Indya Moore is of Haitian, Puerto Rican, and Dominican ancestry and uses the pronouns they/them and she/her.
Cardi B’s mom is Trinidadian and her father is Dominican.
Melissa De Sousa
The Best Man actress Melissa De Sousa is Afro-Panamanian.
Yaya DaCosta has Brazilian and African American ancestry and speaks French, English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Christin Milian spoke on her Cuban roots with Latin Times
in 2014 saying, “As far as Afro-Cuban [goes], I’m finding more and more that there are people opening their eyes to seeing that Latinos come in all colors, all shades.”
MJ Rodriguez’s mother is African-American and her father is Puerto Rican.
Poet Aja Monet is of Jamaican-Cuban descent.
Kelis’s mother is Chinese-Puerto Rican and her father is African American.
New York Undercover and Dexter alum Lauren Vélez is Puerto Rican.
Stacey Dash has African American and Mexican ancestry.
Young M.A’s mother is Jamaican and her father is Puerto Rican.
Jhene Aiko’s mother is of Spanish, Dominican, and Japanese descent. Her father has Native American, African-American, and German-Jewish ancestry.
Love & Hip-Hop star Juju Castaneda’s parents are both Afro-Cuban immigrants.
Mariah Carey’s father was African-American and Afro-Venezuelan. Her mother is Irish.
Former 106&Park host Keshia Chante’s mother is Portuguese and Puerto Rican and her father is Trinidadian.
Both of journalist Soledad O’Brien’s parents are immigrants. Her mother was an Afro-Cuban from Havana and her father was born in Queensland, Australia.
Former City High singer Claudette Ortiz is Puerto Rican.
Actress Reagan Gomez-Preston’s mother is Puerto Rican. Her dad is African American.
Former Pussy Cat Dolls star Melody Thornton’s mother is Mexican American and her father is African American.
Queen Sugar and How To Get Away With Murder actress Amirah Vann was born to a Puerto Rican mother and African American father.