Growing up as a young Mexican American boy in the southwestern United States, the only representation I came across in the media was on nightly telenovelas that my family watched or on Saturday and Sunday variety shows aired on Univision and Telemundo.
The late 80s and early 90s didn’t have much diversity in the media unless it was stories about the down-and-out people of color in the nightly news. That started to change with musicians like Marc Anthony and Selena. Even more so with the biographic movie of Selena’s life, which gave Jennifer Lopez her first starring role in a feature film.
Young Latinx entertainers started to appear in more traditional TV and movie roles (Selena Gomez & John Leguizamo) and their music started to gain popularity (Sharkira) on the U.S. radio. But with the advent of social media, the influence of traditional television and radio started to fade.
All of a sudden, it seems like anyone with the right content and strategy can become an influencer but, the thing is, not everyone is. So who are some of the top influencers among the U.S. based Latin American community?
As Hispanic Heritage Month approaches (Sept. 15-Oct. 15), I’m highlighting a few of my favorites.
Joanna Hausmann is Venezuelan American and possibly the funniest person on this list. She has quickly become my favorite YouTube subscription and her videos contributed to many of my lectures as a Teaching Assistant during graduate school.
Hausmann has over 230K subscribers on YouTube, over 60K followers on Twitter, and over 148K followers on Instagram. Her ability to create content that both entertains and educates viewers is a major reason why she has made it onto this list.
You can watch her content via FLAMA, where you can find creative videos that cover young Latino heritage and culture.
Arturo Castro is a Guatemalan actor and comedian who became known for his role as Jaimé Castro on Comedy Central’s Broad City. He currently has a sketch show titled Alterlatino which addresses topics relevant to many of today’s young people while filtering it through the lens of his own life experience.
Castro has over 10K Twitter followers and over 95K Instragram followers.
Castro helps fill a necessary space on cable television as a young Latino bringing up issues that many go through, packaging it in an incredibly relevant and digestible format. Not to mention, his sketches make up some of the funniest television programming in a long time, in my opinion.
Elizabeth Acevedo is an Afro-Dominican American poet and author of books such as The Poet X. She writes poems and stories that young women relate to on a multitude of levels and varying intersections. Acevedo has over 30K followers on Twitter and over 40K followers on Instagram.
Elizabeth holds a place on the list as a result of her incredible talent as a writer but also because she represents a commonly overlooked Afro-Latino population of the United States and the world. She is a powerful force and advocate for young women of color everywhere.
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I’ve been told that I can come off as an intense or intimidating person. Especially if people meet me at a function where I’m speaking. I’ve also been told I can seem standoffish; probably because I’m impatient with chit-chat and largely quiet when I’m trying to get a sense of my surroundings or taking stock of a room. I think it’s protective. I want to know where I am and who is here and what the energy in the room is before I open myself up. In other words, I’m an introvert who performs extrovertism because apparently socializing is good for building social bonds?! All that to say, I’m also utterly ridiculous and find myself goofy in the best ways. And I’m fine with all these sides. A single being can house many parts. 🌸
Julio Torres is a Salvadorian comedian and actor who’s best known for his work on the HBO series Los Espookys but also is a writer on Saturday Night Live. He also has a comedy special titled My Favorite Shapes that premiered August 10 on HBO. Torres has over 40K Instagram followers and over 64K Twitter followers.
Julio makes the list due to his achievements in comedy as an openly gay Latino SNL writer who also landed a role on an all-Spanish language HBO production. He deconstructs the patriarchal idea of what Latin American masculinity should be and does so effortlessly by just being himself.
Yovana Mendoza is a Mexican American content creator and self-proclaimed food enthusiast. Mendoza is one of my personal favorite follows on Instagram, where she has 1.2 million followers. She chronicles her journey in health, fitness, and eating well. She also has over 450K subscribers to her YouTube channel and over 56K followers on Twitter.
Mendoza is an ambassador for a healthy lifestyle and inspires over a million people to eat well and take agency over their own health. There are a lot of great Latin-based foods and recipes out there, but watching Yovana’s fresh take on some classics has the potential to inspire many young Latin Americans to level up.
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New chapter and still drinking green smoothies😋you can be healthy in your own way, adapt it to your lifestyle and enjoy the process! Who agrees with me? ————————————- Nuevo capítulo y sigo tomando licuados verdes😋puedes ser saludable a tu manera, adáptalo a tu estilo de vida y disfruta el proceso! Quien está de acuerdo conmigo?
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Oscar Duran works as Global President of the EMBRACE Employee Resource Group at Cision as well as an Associate Account Executive. Check out his previous posts for Beyond Bylines and connect on Instagram. When he’s not working, Oscar can be found producing content for his podcast, being an advocate for the underprivileged, or traveling.