Redbrick Writers come together to celebrate Latine Heritage Month by placing a spotlight on some Latine icons throughout history

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Dan Hunt, Editor-in-Chief) 

Congresswoman from New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (commonly referred to by her initials, AOC), first arrived on Capitol Hill in January 2019. She was 29, a child of Puerto Rican parents, and working as a bartender prior to her election to the House. This in itself is not particularly notable, but her actions and meteoric rise since then certainly are.

Famed for her zealous use of social media and determination to engage young people in politics, in only a few short years she finds herself a rising star in the Democratic Party with widening appeal and influence across all corners of the Big Tent. Her resolute belief in progressive causes such as healthcare for all, free college tuition and stricter gun control measures has attracted many admirers, with AOC also acting as a key sponsor for a Green New Deal to ensure environmental protection and the growth of clean energy.

Her social media presence has proved vital in fundraising efforts not just for political purposes, but humanitarian efforts too. Following the storms in Texas in 2021, despite not representing the Lone Star State, she managed to raise $5 million dollars to help those affected, demonstrating her growing influence over the entire nation.

Touted as a future presidential nominee, the sky’s the limit for AOC as she brings progressive politics and a refreshing tenacity to the national stage.

Lin-Manuel Miranda (Halima Ahad, Culture Editor)

Lin-Manuel Miranda was born in New York on the 16th January 1980. He is best known for his work on Hamilton, which is a hip-hop musical based on the life of Alexander Hamilton. He was born and brought up in a Hispanic neighbourhood in northern Manhattan with his parents who were both of Puerto Rican origin. He was first inspired by the Broadway musical Les Misérables at the age of seven which influenced the rest of his life. Musicals impacted his life greatly and made him want to discover more about them.

He studied theatre at Wesleyan University and penned the first draft of his own musical In The Heights. After reading a biography of the founding father Alexander Hamilton, Miranda started to create a musical surrounded around his life. Little did he know that this musical would change the rest of his life.

Little did he know that this musical would change his life in ways he never expected

The musical was energetic and infectious featuring a racially diverse cast with Miranda in the lead role. Miranda’s acting and musical career has also been very influential. He contributed to the soundtrack to the Disney animated film Moana with his first song ‘How Far I’ll Go’. He also contributed to Mary Poppins Returns by being the nanny’s sidekick the lamplighter. Finally, he wrote ‘Dos Oruguitas’ for the hit Disney film Encanto and received an Oscar nomination for this. Miranda is definitely a Latine icon and should be known worldwide for his fantastic contributions to film and musicals.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Sofia Salazar Studer, Deputy Editor)

Gabriel García Márquez is mostly known for his work as a novelist. Born in 1927 in Colombia, he started his career as a journalist before getting his first novella published in 1955 after years of looking for a publisher. During the following years, he continued writing novellas and eventually novels.

In 1967, he published his most successful novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude (Cien años de soledad) – one of the novels that would lead to him winning the Nobel Prize for Literature fifteen years later. Other notable novels include Love in the Time of Cholera (El amor en los tiempos del cólera) in 1985.

The reality of Colombian life depicted in Garcia Marquez’ novels was often forgotten or discredited

Gabriel García Márquez stories are often categorized as magical realism – in fact, his novels are regularly cited as the prime example of magical realism. Magical realism is a style of literary fiction that blurs reality and magic, adding both to the story. Unfortunately, this means the reality of Colombian life depicted in García Márquez’ novels was often forgotten or discredited due to the magical elements.

Gabriel García Márquez died in Mexico City in 2014, but his legacy continues to his day. It is even speculated that Encanto (2021) was mildly inspired by One Hundred Years of Solitude because of its many shared themes. He is still to this day considered one of the greatest writers in Spanish in history and is an important figure of Colombian history.

Stephanie Beatriz (Sophie Utteridge, Print&Features Editor) 

Born in Argentina to a Columbian father and a Bolivian mother, Stephanie Beatriz Bischoff Alvizuri is an American and Argentinian actor known best for her roles as Detective Rosa Diaz in the hit comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine and as the voice of Mirabel Madrigal in Disney’s Encanto.

After moving to the United States at the age of two, Beatriz often went to cultural events with her mother which inspired her to get into acting. She graduated college and began to appear in a few minor roles on various television shows before landing her first big break as Rosa Diaz in Brooklyn Nine-Nine. The show was key to Beatriz’s success and, since the show ended in 2021, she has gone on to star alongside some of the biggest names in the industry, such as Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Beatriz is also an incredible role model for LGBTQ+ rights

Aside from her professional career, Beatriz is also an incredible role model for LGBTQ+ rights. In 2016 she publicly came out as bisexual and, with the full support of the cast and crew of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, used her new-found platform to re-shape her character Rosa Diaz also as bisexual. The show did not shy away from portraying bi-phobia and bi-erasure, as Beatriz herself had experienced. In particular, the scenes depicting Rosa come out to her family were especially powerful.

Beatriz has also been very open about her astigmatism and how it affects her acting. Legally, Beatriz is actually blind, however she does not wear her glasses during her roles. She also cannot wear contacts due to an extreme sensitivity to them. Whilst acting as Rosa Diaz, Beatriz often stated she couldn’t see much of what was happening in front of her which makes her performance all the more impressive.

More recently, since the birth of her daughter in August 2021, Beatriz has begun to forge new paths as a voice actor with roles in films such as The Lego Movie, Encanto, and The Bob’s Burgers Movie. She is certainly an inspiration to many and I, for one, cannot wait to see what she does next.

Frida Kahlo (Isobel Radakovic, Deputy Editor) 

Born Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón, Frida Kahlo was a prolific Mexican painter whose legacy remains prevalent to this day. Frida was born to a German father and a mestiza mother, meaning a mixed European and Indigenous American heritage. Kahlo is best known for her self-portraits, and her works inspired by the nature and rich culture of Mexico.

Kahlo spent the majority of her childhood and adult life in the borough of Coyoacán in Mexico City, where her family home, La Casa Azul, is now accessible to the public as the Frida Kahlo museum. Despite contracting polio as a child, Kahlo was headed for medical school before being injured in a bus accident at 18, which caused her lifelong issues. During her recovery, she returned to her childhood ambition of being an artist.

Through her involvement with the Mexican Communist Party, Kahlo met her future husband, fellow Mexican artist, Diego Rivera. Their touring of Mexico and the United States solidified her artistic style, and kickstarted her success as an artist, with her first solo exhibition in 1938 in New York and a subsequent exhibition in Paris the following year. Kahlo is heralded as being the first Mexican artist to be featured in The Louvre, and remains an icon for Chicanos, the feminst movement, and the LGBTQ+ community.

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