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In Appreciation: Lupe Ontiveros

Features
by Melissa Silverstein
July 30, 2012 1:00 PM
1 Comment
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Latina actress Lupe Ontiveros lost her battle with liver cancer last week at 69.  She had a long a varied career in Hollywood beginning in 1976 when she appeared in an episode of Charlie's Angels.

One thing Ontiveros became known for was for playing maids which she estimated she played over 150 times.  She talked about the stereotyping of Latina actresses in an interview with NPR in 2009.  (You can read the transcript here.)

Here's what she said of her hopes and dreams for other roles:

I long to play a judge. I long to play a lesbian woman. I long to play a councilman, somebody with some chutzpah.

But she was proud of all her maids too:

I’ve had a hell of a good time playing those maids. Each one to me is very special … No matter how much I resent the stupidity that is written into them, the audacity that the industry has when they portray us in such a nonsensical, idiotic, such — oh my God! — such a degrading manner, still, my humor survives in these maids. I’m very proud of them.

My favorite memory of Lupe Ontiveros is as America Ferarra's mother Carmen in Real Women Have Curves which I happened to see when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.  It was an electric moment, one I will never forget.

She will be missed.

Lupe Ontiveros Proudly Portrayed Dozens Of Maids (NPR)

Lupe Ontiveros was a force to be reckoned with onscreen (LA Times)

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1 Comment

  • Carmen | July 30, 2012 5:57 PMReply

    Thank you. What a wonderful appreciation you have written about Lupe Ontiveros. She was a wonderful actress and often thought of her as very courageous to constantly play characters that were written as marginal. She found ways to give them a little twist and humanized her characters.

    One of the reasons I enjoy reading your blog is because it is inclusive of all women, including women of color. Thanks again.

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