Seven Latinos Who Have Made Outstanding Cultural Contributions

This week, in recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re highlighting some of our best and brightest Latinos from the world of literature, entertainment and food.

Luckily for us and the rest of the world, there is no shortage of Latino talent from which to choose and this list is by no means exhaustive. It does, however, offer a snapshot of some of the Latino community’s greatest cultural contributions. Here is our list, in no particular order, of seven Latinos whose contributions to culture have made the world a better place

Artist: Carlos Alvarez

Carlos Alvarez was born in Medellín, Colombia in 1969 and later immigrated to the United States in 1999. He focuses on still-life oil paintings or prints with ordinary, everyday objects. Some of his work is currently on display at the Smithsonian galleries during the month of celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month.HHM_pic1

Actors: Edward James Olmos

It is hard to imagine either the US or Latino film cultures without Edward James Olmos. Although he was born in Los Angeles, he grew up in a Latino community and is the son of a Mexican immigrant and Mexican-American mother. He has played famous roles in both Spanish and many American films and TV shows. One of his best role’s was as a teacher in the film Stand and Deliver (1988), in which he played a passionate high school determined to inspire his students to be passionate and finish school. Watch a clip below:


Musician: Los Tigres del Norte









This popular musical group is a band of Mexican-American brothers who have brought their traditional Mexican music into the mainstream American musical culture. Although they became popular in the 1970s and 1980s, they are still performing and touring throughout the country today. They are most renowned for their Chicano style, mixing a traditional, acoustic folk sound with a more upbeat vibe using electric guitar and bass. Take a listen to one of their hits:

Chef: Chef Marcela Valladolid

Although she was born in San Diego, Marcela Valladolid spent her childhood growing up in Mexico. She has traveled all around the world to follow her passion for cooking, including Paris, France and returning to Tijuana to found her own catering company. She has been a guest chef on many food programs on American television and today is a host of her own show titled Mexican Made Easy on the Food Network. Marcela Valladolid’s recipe for Tilapia Ceviche is a must-try!


Author: Gabriel García Márquez

Gabriel Garcia Marquez is often referred to as not just one of the best Hispanic authors, but one of the best authors in the world. Marquez was born in Colombia and spent most of his life living in Latin America. He often wrote short stories and journals, but was also a screenwriter at times. His way of storytelling has caught the attention of many audiences, not solely the Spanish-speaking world. With his storytelling, he developed the genre of “magical realism”, and through his words, he made magical events seem as though they were possible everyday occurrences. His story A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings is a prime example of this magical realism.


Poet: Jorges Luis Borges

Jorges Luis Borges was born and raised in Argentina, where he spent most of his life in the 20th century. Although he wrote short stories, essays, and served as a translator, he was most known for his poetry. Borges’ poetry was often deep and philosophical, forcing his readers to reflect and ponder on his words. Because of this effect and the beauty of his words, is always studied in Spanish literature and often studied in English poetry courses as well. It is hard not to discuss Spanish poets without Borges being at the top of the list. “La Lluvia” (“The Rain”) is a simple yet beautiful poem written by Borges in 1960.


Film Director: Gregory Nava

HHM_pic6Gregory Nava was born in San Diego, California, yet all of his filmography is inspired by Mexican and Hispanic cultures. Many of his films reflect the heritage and development of the culture in a modern world. The two films he is most famous for is El Norte (1983) and Selena (1997), which starred a young Mexican-American actress, Jennifer Lopez and the previously mentioned actor Edward James Olmo. He even won the NCLR ALMA Outstanding Latino Director award in 1997 for his film Selena! Watch the movie’s original trailer below: