Many Mexican actresses started their career in their home-country before taking the leap into the Hollywood limelight – becoming international stars.
10. Kate del Castillo
Making her film debut in 1978, Kate del Castillo became well known just over a decade later after starring in the two telenovelas ‘Muchachitas’ and ‘La Reina del Sur’. Soon after, she headed to the States and scored a variety of guest-spots in TV shows such as ‘Weeds’, ‘CSI: Miami’ and ‘Grimm’. Her movie roles include working alongside Idris Elba in ‘No Good Deed’ and with Tilda Swinton in the critically acclaimed crime-drama ‘Julia’.
9. Selena Gomez
Born to a father of Mexican descent, Selena Gomez first came to prominence after being cast in the Disney TV hit ‘Wizards of Waverly Place’. Soon after its conclusion, she signed a recording contract with Hollywood Records and all three of her albums charted within the top 10 of the US Billboard 200. Returning to cinema, she provided voice work in the successful CGI animation ‘Hotel Transylvania’ before taking a more mature role in the controversial ‘Spring Breakers’ in 2013. At just 22 years old, her career is booming and she is sure to continue to rise amongst the Hollywood ranks.
8. Jessica Alba
With Mexican-American roots on her father’s side, Jessica Alba began her career at just 13 in ‘Camp Nowhere’. Soon after, James Cameron noted her talent and cast Alba as the lead in his sci-fi TV series ‘Dark Angel’ which ran between 2000 – 2002. The show received critical acclaim and Alba was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance. She later went on to star in ‘Fantastic Four’ and its sequel. Although only moderately well received critically, they were both box office successes, earning over $600 million between them. Alba has frequently been called a sex symbol and was named ‘Sexiest Woman Alive’ by FHM in 2007.
7. Katy Jurado
Katy Jurado acted in Mexican films throughout the early 1940s, appearing in over 15 films in just 7 years. Supplementing her income as columnist, radio reporter and a bullfighter, she was soon discovered by John Wayne and cast in the 1951 Hollywood movie ‘The Bullfighter and the Lady’ – causing her American career to shoot off. Despite her limited English-speaking ability, Jurado would memorise her lines phonetically and her performances were critically well received. In fact, she became one of only three Mexican Actresses to be nominated for an Academy Award.
6. Adriana Barraza
Adriana Barraza started her career in Mexico City working as a director of theatre and the anthology telenovela ‘Mujer, Casos de la Vida Real’, which she also made guest appearances in. Her biggest break came in 2000 when she was cast in the Mexican drama film ‘Amores perros’, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. His follow up film, ‘Babel’, earned Barraza an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress. Since then she has appeared in a number of box office hits, including ‘Drag Me to Hell’ and ‘Thor’ as well as a recurring role on the FX horror series ‘The Strain’.
5. Ana de la Reguera
Like all good Mexican actresses on our list, Ana de la Reguera had her big break in a series of telenovelas, starting in 1996 with ‘Azul’. This was swiftly followed by ‘Pueblo chico, infierno grande’ which nabbed her the Heraldo award for best female actress. After moving to Hollywood, she appeared in the comedy ‘Nacho Libre’ alongside Jack Black and had a role in Jon Favreau’s sci-fi-western ‘Cowboys & Aliens’. She also appeared in the critically acclaimed HBO show ‘Eastbound and Down’ as Danny McBride’s love interest.
4. Eva Longoria
Born to two Mexican parents in Texas, Eva Longoria moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting. Her break came in 2004 when she was cast as a lead in the ABC sensation ‘Desperate Housewives’, which ran for 8 seasons and earned her a Golden Globe nomination. During her tenure she branched out into movies, starring in ‘Harsh Times’, ‘The Sentinel’, and ‘Over Her Dead Body’. More recently, she has stepped behind the camera and become a producer for the comedy-drama TV series ‘Devious Maids’ and the Keanu Reeves action movie ‘John Wick’.
3. Lupe Velez
Beginning her career as a performer in Mexican vaudeville, it wasn’t long before Lupe Velez travelled to the States. She made her screen debut in 1927 opposite Douglas Fairbanks in ‘The Gaucho’. Velez was soon leading lady material, becoming one of the most successful Mexican actresses in Hollywood. Nicknamed ‘The Mexican Spitfire’ by the media, her personal life garnered much attention for her several high-profile publicised romances. Her death in 1944 due to an overdose of Seconal has remained highly controversial, and is still the subject of much speculation.
2. Dolores Del Rio
Becoming a Hollywood sensation in the 1920s and 30s, Dolores Del Rio became the first Latin American star to be recognised internationally. She quickly became one of the most sought after Hollywood actresses until the decline of the silent movie era. During McCarthyism, Del Rio was accused of being a Communist sympathiser and, seeing her career in threat, returned to Mexico. After returning to her homeland, she became one of the most important female stars of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema. She had highly publicized romances with Orson Welles and Mexican film director Emilio Fernandez.
1. Salma Hayek
Beginning her career with the 1989 telenovela ‘Teresa’, Salma Hayek moved to Hollywood two years later. Hayek soon rose to stardom after starring in ‘Desperado’, ‘From Dusk till Dawn’, ‘The Faculty’, and ‘Dogma’. In 2002 she took the lead role in ‘Frida’, a biopic about the life of Frida Kahlo. The film received widespread critical praise, and Hayek was nominated for a Golden Globe, BAFTA and an Academy Award. Hayek has also turned to producing, with the hit TV series ‘Ugly Betty’ being her most notable achievement, running for 85 episodes. Hayek has also been a staunch activist against domestic violence and testified in front of the US Senate Committee in support of the Violence Against Women Act.