LA Vanguardia: An L.A. Times project celebrating the Latino vanguard transforming our cultural landscape

Chris Estrada, clockwise from top left, Xolo Maridueña, Mayan Lopez, Kali Uchis, Maria Zardoya, Harvey Guillén, Natalia Molina and Melissa Barrera. Illustration by Ruby Broobs / For The Times; animation by Li Anne Liew / For The Times


“Hollywood has failed Latinos for more than 100 years.”

So started the L.A. Times’ 2021 package on Hollywood’s Latino culture gap, in which Times journalists traced the horrendous history of Latino representation in entertainment and explored how that past manifests itself in our present — what we see, or don’t see, on the screen, on the stage and on the page today.

What’s changed since that Latino culture gap project came out? Not much! Not in one year. It’s way too soon for us to publish a progress report when, quite frankly, there isn’t much progress to report.

So as the staff here talked about a follow-up package, the conversation eventually focused on how we might build on the Latino-culture-gap articles, rather than repeat them. Last year we wrote all those stories about the lack of representation, so this year we’ve decided to do the opposite: Share stories of representation. This is LA Vanguardia. L.A.’s vanguard. The people who are part of the solution to a persistent, pernicious, many-tentacled problem.


To be clear, this is not a Latino power list. This is not a Latino hot list. This is not a comprehensive study. This is not a ranking. Instead, this is a survey of the rising writers, actors, directors, architects, thinkers, musicians and other artists who are shaping the culture you are living in now and certainly the culture you’ll be living in tomorrow. It’s our attempt to spotlight some of the talented individuals who have beaten the odds to get a seat at the table. And it’s our invitation to you: Pull up a chair and join the conversation.

Want to suggest someone for LA Vanguardia? Share your idea with us. We will consider reader nominations in planning our coverage, including future iterations of LA Vanguardia. And check back here for more LA Vanguardia stories all week long.

We’ve heard so much talk about diversity. And yet, where are the Latinos? Open the talent pipeline — and lift up those who’ve fought their way in.

Meet the inaugural LA Vanguardia class, talented Latinos defining the cultural landscape of L.A. and beyond.

A Hollywood talent manager, curator, playwright and scholar talk about how Latinx artists are approaching representation with greater nuance.

The Echo Park-raised author and professor is helping us relearn how race was constructed in the U.S. — and how communities thrive in L.A.

The Marvel star faced online hate for playing a ‘Baby-Sitters Club’ character who was originally white. Now she’s opening up about fighting back.

In her work, Colombia-born playwright Diana Burbano creates rich, three-dimensional characters for Latinx actors, the likes of which are sorely lacking in canonical theatrical material.

Fresh off four Latin Grammy nominations for her work with Karol G and Christina Aguilera, Becky G says, ‘We have to be championing one another.’

As the last member of a dance movement that emerged in L.A.’s queer club scene in the 1970s, Viktor Manoel is teaching a new generation of dancers who are uplifting the style and its history.


Writer-director Walter Thompson-Hernández went from journalist to artist and filmmaker. His mission — exposing the hidden lives around us — never changed.

Meztli Projects, an arts and culture collective in Los Angeles, intends to create a space for Native and Indigenous community members to come together.

Latinos have historically been underrepresented in the U.S. world of arts. These programs are trying to change that.

About this project

This project was edited by Paula Mejía, Boris Kachka, Matt Brennan, Craig Marks, Nate Jackson and Craig Nakano. Art direction by Martina Ibáñez-Baldor. Photo illustrations by Ruby Broobs. Photo editing by Brandon Choe, Kate Kuo and Taylor Arthur. Digital build by Jevon Phillips. Copy editing by Alison Dingeldein, Gillian Glover, Blake Hennon, Lisa Horowitz, Anastasia Johnson, R. Marina Levario, Daryl Miller, Doug Norwood, Jason Sanchez and Laura Schinagle. Engagement editing by Vanessa Franko and David Viramontes. Newspaper package design by Judy Pryor, An Amlotte and Parisa Hajizadeh-Amini.