Sleek, sexy, sharp and deadly.... After months of intense combat training in Paris, Zoe Saldana embodies the strength of her latest character, Cataleya, a professional ruthless Colombian killer out to avenge the death of her murdered parents. In celebration of Saldana’s first-ever Latina role in this week's Colombiana, we take a look at other badass Latinas who have graced the big screen.
By Elisa Osegueda
Movies like Honey and Sin City placed Jessica Alba on the map, but it was last year’s performance in Machete that solidified Alba as one badass chick. She returned to the big screen in another Robert Rodriguez production, Spy Kids 4, as a former spy who keeps her identity hidden from her husband until the Timekeeper threatens to steal time.
Spanish actress Penélope Cruz is one of the most desired international stars in Hollywood. She’s the second Spanish performer to win an Oscar for acting (the first was given to her husband Javier Bardem). Cruz recently co-starred with Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean 4 and showed off her fierce sword fighting skills, which she shot while pregnant. And let’s not forget the action comedy Bandidas, in which she played one half of a bank-robbing duo with BFF Salma Hayek.
Michelle Rodriguez has said she made a conscious decision early in her career that she would only take on tough female characters, and she hasn't gone back on her word. She got her big break almost 11 years ago when she beat 350 hopefuls for the lead role in the low-budget film Girlfight, about a troubled teen who trains to become a boxer. Rodriguez is best known for her performances in The Fast and the Furious, Avatar, Machete and most recently Battle: Los Angeles.
Roselyn Sanchez, who announced she’s expecting her first child earlier this month, began her acting career in Puerto Rico and quickly became a fan favorite as co-host of a variety show. Her rise to fame in Hollywood came in 2001 when she was cast in Rush Hour 2 to play Isabella Molina, an undercover United States Secret Service agent. This Boricua (Puerto Rican-born) quickly proved her star quality--and a thing for loaded guns.
Of Mexican and Lebanese descent, Salma Hayek got her big break in Robert Rodriguez's film Desperado. The bombshell was quickly embraced by American audiences, despite her heavy accent. Thanks to her dream role as Frida Kahlo in the biopic she produced, Hayek earned a Best Actress Academy Award nomination. Now, the star produces original content for Latino audiences through her film production company Ventanarosa. Hayek is currently filming Savages, directed by Oliver Stone and starring Blake Lively and John Travolta.
Cuban-American actress Eva Mendes showed off her comedic chops in The Other Guys last year, but it was her tough-cookie attitude that originally got her noticed. In 2003 she played the lead female role in 2 Fast 2 Furious as Monica Fuentes, an undercover U.S. Customs agent who decides to take on a Miami drug cartel. And later that year she played another government agent alongside Johnny Depp in Once Upon a Time in Mexico. Keep your eye out for Mendes; she’s got projects with Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington and Matthew McConaughey in the works.
Kate del Castillo
This starlet can very well be considered the Mexican version of Angelina Jolie, and her career is rapidly building steam--you may recognize her from 2008's Under the Same Moon, which became the highest-grossing Spanish-language film in the U.S . Kate del Castillo has looks, acting chops and--dare we say, balls of steel, performing her own stunts even if that means potentially losing a limb to a helicopter blade during a high speed chase. Her next film will be alongside Eva Longoria in Without Men, and she's also working on a TV project about extreme sports.
Who can forget her deadly ways in Sin City and Death Proof? This multi-ethnic actress has worked with some of the best actors and directors in the industry, proving that she’s got range and beauty. These days, Rosario Dawson continues to expand her portfolio as she works on her singing and film producing skills.
Don’t be fooled by the rocks she flaunts--La Lopez has some killer instincts. She killed her ex-abusive husband in Enough, battled giant deadly snakes in Anaconda, and proved in Out of Sight that when given a great script and director she can certainly act. She’s the highest paid Latina actress in Hollywood, and the projects just keep on rolling in. She’ll be co-starring with Jason Statham in the crime-thriller Parker out in 2012.