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From Rita Moreno's Oscar Win to Lin-Manuel Miranda Going 'In the Heights': The 8 Most Inspiring Hispanic Heritage Moments in TV and Film


Until October 15th, we’re celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month at Xfinity and paying homage to the rich history of the culture and people. The entertainment world has been greatly impacted by the talents and personalities of Hispanic storytellers so we’re taking a look at some of the people and projects who have—and still are—paving the way for representation in Hollywood.

First Hispanic Male to Win a Best Lead Actor Oscar

José Ferrer, hailing from Puerto Rico, became the first Hispanic male to win the Best Lead Actor trophy at the Academy Awards in 1951. The award was for his role as Oscar in Cyrano de Bergerac. Prior to this he had been nominated for his supporting role in Joan of Arc.

What to watch: If it’s classic stories you seek, watch Legend of Zorro in Spanish on Sony Cine.

The Debut of Desi Arnaz

In the same year as Ferrer’s big win (1951), Cuban-born Desi Arnaz made a splash on the small-screen with I Love Lucy. He would go on to win two primetime Emmys for Best Sitcom along with co-producer Jess Oppenheim.

What to watch: Get ready to laugh watching Gordita Chronicles on HBO. It’s a smart, funny series about a reporter’s look back at life with her Dominican family in the 1980s.

First Hispanic Female to Win Best Supporting Actress Oscar

In 1962, Rita Moreno nabbed the Best Actress in a Supporting Role Academy Award for her show-stopping turn as Anita in West Side Story—a first for a Hispanic woman. She’s credited with giving one of the show’s shortest acceptance speeches of all time, simply saying, “I can't believe it! Good Lord. I leave you with that.”

What to watch: If you love musicals, like Moreno’s West Side Story, catch Hamilton, One Shot to Broadway, now streaming on Xumo Play.

The Debut of the Latin Grammys

The broader Grammys have been around since 1958, but it wasn’t until 2000 that Latin artists got their very own evening and show to celebrate. Fun fact: It was the first bilingual primetime broadcast ever to air on network television.

What to watch: You won’t want to miss a beat of Santana Live at the 1982 US Festival streaming on Pluto TV.

First Hispanic Person to Win Best Director Oscar

Alfonso Cuarón made history when he scored the Best Director Oscar for Gravity, a space thriller starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, in 2014. This marked the first time a Hispanic person won in the director category. Later, in 2019, he’d win the Oscar again for Roma.

What to watch: If you love the powerful story of Cuarón’s Roma, try Pedro Almodóvar’s Volver, available on Sony Cine.

Disney-Pixar's Coco is a Hit

Moviegoers fell in love with Disney-Pixar’s animated Coco, about a young boy exploring his family’s Mexican customs to convince his relatives to ditch their household ban on music. The film won two Academy Awards in 2018, and exposed millions of people to the beauty of Mexican culture.

What to watch: Get animated again with The Book of Life

Lin-Manuel Miranda Goes In the Heights

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights, a musical he began writing when he was just 19 years old, became a feature film in 2021. Though it didn’t do particularly big business at the box office, it did cast a bright light on communities like New York’s Washington Heights and the gorgeous stories they have to tell.

What to watch: It might not be a musical, but Fools Rush In, streaming on Xumo Play, is a comedic delight with Salma Hayek in an unforgettable starring role.

Marvel Casts Its First Hispanic Superhero

There have been Hispanic superheroes across comic books but recording artist Bad Bunny is making history as the first Latin actor to head a Marvel movie, playing El Muerto. The character, whose origin name is Juan-Carlos Estrada Sanchez, is a “super-powered wrestler.” We’re guessing he can give WWE a run for its money.

What to watch: A superhero in his own right, get to know the story of civil rights activist Cesar Chavez in the film aptly titled Cesar Chavez now streaming on Peacock.


To watch these important films and TV shows—and so much more—just say “Latino” into your voice remote.


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