08/26/2014 04:21 pm ET | Updated Oct 12, 2014

9 Latina Stars Who Aren't Hypersexualized On TV


Remember that awkward moment when Sofia Vergara got up on a rotating platform during the Emmys?

So do we.

During one of the most cringe-worthy "jokes" of the 66th Annual Emmy Awards the "Modern Family" star angered many by standing on a rotating platform so viewers would have "something compelling to look at" while the president of the Academy gave a speech about diversity on television.


Many took to Twitter to express their discontent with the bit.

Yet others thought the star was empowering women by getting up on the pedestal and making fun of her sex-symbol status.

The star also responded to the claims that her stunt was sexist by telling people to lighten up.

"I think it's absolutely the opposite," she said, according to Entertainment Weekly. "It means that somebody can be hot and also be funny and make fun of herself. I think it’s ridiculous that somebody started this -- I know who she was -- who has no sense of humor [and should] lighten up a little bit.”

This is not the first time there have been complaints about Vergara perpetuating the stereotype of the sexy Latina bimbo, especially with her character Gloria Pritchett on "Modern Family."

"'Modern Family' suggests that a Latina’s strongest attribute is her aggressive and exotic hotness, not to mention her supposedly explosive fertility," writes Tim Padgett in The Miami Herald. "And that often sends the sitcom veering from witty domestic satire to witless ethnic slur."

A recent study from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism of the University of Southern California revealed that "Hispanic females (37.5 percent) were more likely than females from all other races to be shown partially or fully naked on screen.”

Although Vergara's Gloria Pritchett character could be considered the most popular character played by a Latina on TV today, there are many other talented Latinas who are doing an amazing job at portraying confident, multi-layered characters and breaking with stereotypes. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Selenis Leyva - Orange Is The New Black
    Gloria Mendoza is one of the most interesting characters on "Orange Is The New Black." She is the leader of "Spanish Harlem" and gains more power in the second season when she takes over the kitchen. She takes care of the other Latinas in Litchfield Penitentiary. During the flashbacks we realize that before going to jail, Gloria was in an abusive relationship which she tried to escape many times.
  • Dascha Polanco - Orange Is The New Black
    Lily Lawrence via Getty Images
    Polanco plays Daya Diaz on "Orange Is The New Black." She's one of the newer inmates at Litchfield Penitentiary, has a rocky relationship with her mother -- also an inmate -- and is constantly being called out by the other Latinas in the prison for not knowing Spanish. Her character is faced with major challenges in the second season after falling in love with C.O. John Bennett and later becoming pregnant.
  • Lana Parrilla - Once Upon A Time
    The half- Puerto Rican star plays the Evil Queen from Snow White and Regina, the town mayor, in ABC's "Once Upon A Time." Her characters are evil yet complex. "She’s not just like, ‘I want to hurt people for the sake of hurting people,’" Parrilla told Latina magazine about the Evil Queen. "She’s been hurt and now she’s getting back at everyone,"
  • Melissa Fumero - Brooklyn Nine-Nine
    FOX via Getty Images
    The star plays detective Amy Santiago on FOX's Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Fumero's character is the by-the-book cop who has a really hard time breaking the rules and desperately tries to please the Captain Roy Halt, played by Andre Braugher. The show features one of the most diverse casts on television.
  • Stephanie Beatriz - Brooklyn Nine-Nine
    FOX via Getty Images
    Also on FOX's Brooklyn Nine-Nine is Stephanie Beatriz, the Argentine actress who plays detective Rosa Diaz, the tough, leather-wearing officer who rarely smiles and scares most people in the precinct. While talking to Robert Herrera of Front Row Live, Beatriz mentioned how far she believes Latinas on TV have come. "Knowing that there was another Latina actress that was also a lead on the show but our parts weren't really about us being Latina, that to me felt like a huge success for television in general," said Beatriz,
  • Emily Rios - The Bridge
    Alberto E. Rodriguez via Getty Images
    The former "Breaking Bad" star plays Adriana Mendez on FX's "The Bridge." The character is a reporter who's struggling both with her personal and professional life. “You’ll see where she’s trying to make sacrifices because she wants a career,” Rios said during an interview at TCA's FX day.
  • Gina Torres - Suits
    USA Network via Getty Images
    There really isn't anything Gina Torres can't do, from first mate to Captain Malcolm Reynolds, played by Nathan Fillion, on the Sci-Fi/Westerm "Firefly" to tough lawyer with her own firm Jessica Pearson on "Suits," Torres is all about the strong female characters.
  • Aubrey Plaza - Parks And Recreation
    NBC via Getty Images
    The half-Puerto Rican star plays April Ludgate on NBC's "Parks And Recreation." Her character starts out as the uninterested college intern and has slowly morphed into, well an apathetic employee but not without making us fall in love with her for her sarcastic comments and witty one-liners.
  • Lauren Velez - Dexter
    Sure, Dexter is over, but Lauren Velez's character Maria LaGuerta is still worth adding to the list. Like most characters on the hit cable show, LaGuerta was complex and deep. She was an ambitious career woman who goes from being Lieutenant to Captain at the fictional Miami-Metro Homicide Department. Velez got us to root against LaGuerta when she found out about Dexter, yet feel cheated by the death of such an amazing character.