We started DLG Media with a mission to serve and elevate Multicultural America. This mission was fueled by the offensive cluelessness of mainstream media regarding many identities living in the U.S. and is now over-motivated by the bigotry of the new administration. The Afro-Latina identity has long been misrepresented at best, not to say overlooked. But writer, photographer and creator extraordinaire Linda Nieves-Powell just released a project entitled latinaicons.com that pays a beautiful and yet long overdue tribute to Afro-Latina Icons.
We have been fortunate to access and preview latinaicons.com before the official release. As you enter the platform, author and producer Sofia Quintero (you should follow her immediately by the way) brilliantly prefaces the project which will put you right in the mood for the relevancy of the mission statement. Two paragraphs really highlight the importance of such homage and really touched me deeply. She wrote: “Only as I matured and studied did I discover that, one, what I was searching for was a reflection of my afrolatinadad and, two, that Afro-Latina trailblazers had always existed in all facets of popular entertainment.” A bit further out, she added: “Afro-Latina Icons is more than just a reflection or affirmation. It takes a stance that because of enduring anti-Blackness, anti-Latino racism and misogyny especially on social media has become more important than ever to take.
When prompted to talk about the motivation behind the project Latinaicons.com, Linda’s answer was unequivocal: “My hope for the site and for the initiative is that general audiences learn about these wonderful trailblazing Latinas as well as recognize the diverse beauty of our community.” This is extremely powerful as there is indeed a urgent need to destroy the false and biased standards of beauty perpetuated by the media, the entertainment industry, and the fashion industry. She added, “most importantly, for me, this is about identity, and how I can help those in my community, who do not feel they meet the standard of beauty in this country, to create their own identity and standard of beauty.” Linda, has spent her career educating theater and film audiences on the history and diversity of U.S.- born Latinos. As a writer she’s been published by Simon & Schuster and Akashic Books and her plays have been performed at over 400 U.S. colleges and universities. And now with her new passion, portrait photography, she continues her work in the Latina Icons serie.
The photo tribute series pays homage to Afro-Latina musicians. The portraits are re-creations of iconic photos of several Grammy award-winning, nominated, popular, and upcoming musical artists. The tribute honors: Esperanza Spalding, Celia Cruz, Irene Cara, La Lupe, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes from the group TLC, Amara La Negra, and La India. The models are as diverse as the Icons themselves. The series aims to empower and teach audiences about the diversity of Latinos in America. Here are a preview of the photo shoots with a side-by-side photo inspiration.
ESPERANZA SPALDING (born October 18, 1984)
Source: latinaicons.com – Left Picture | Inspiration – Right Picture | Credit: Linda Nieves-Powell – Model: Evelyn Beato – Makeup: Marlene Sanchez
Esperanza Spalding is an American jazz bassist and singer. She has won four Grammy Awards, including the Grammy Award for Best New Artist at the 53rd Grammy Awards, making her the first jazz artist to win the award. via Wikipedia
CELIA CRUZ (October 21, 1925 – July 16, 2003)
Source latinaicons.com – Left Picture | Inspiration – Right Picture | Credit: Linda Nieves-Powell – Model: Diana Davis – Makeup: Maria Corona
Celia “La Negra” Cruz was a Cuban singer of Latin music. She was known for electrifying audiences with her wide-ranging, soulful voice and rhythmically compelling style. She was the most popular Latin artist of the 20th century, she earned twenty-three gold albums and was a recipient of the National Medal of Arts. She was renowned internationally as the “Queen of Salsa”, “La Guarachera de Cuba”, as well as The Queen of Latin Music. via Wikipedia
IRENE CARA (born March 18, 1959)
Source: latinaicons.com – Left Picture | Inspiration – Right Picture | Credit: Linda Nieves-Powell – Model: Nadya Incarnation – Makeup: Jimmy Cortes
Irene Cara is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. She is best known for her roles as title character Sparkle Williams in the 1976 film Sparkle and Coco Hernandez in the 1980 film Fame, earning her a Golden Globe nomination, and her recording of the song “Fame” became an international hit. Cara won an Academy Award in 1984 in the category of Best Original Song for co-writing “Flashdance… What a Feeling”, which also became an international hit. via Wikipedia
LA LUPE (23 December 1939 – 29 February 1992)
Source: latinaicons.com – Left Picture | Inspiration – Right Picture | Credit: Linda Nieves-Powell – Model: Jenny Saldaña – Makeup: Jimmy Cortes
La Lupe (born Lupe Victoria Yolí Raymond) was a Cuban singer of several musical genres, including boleros, guarachas and Latin soul in particular, known for her energetic, sometimes controversial performances. via Wikipedia
LISA “LEFT EYE” LOPES (May 27, 1971 – April 25, 2002)
Source: latinaicons.com – Left Picture | Inspiration – Right Picture | Credit: Linda Nieves-Powell – Model: Desi Sanchez – Makeup: Loretta Alston – Hair, Tattoos, Costumes: Desi Sanchez
Lisa Nicole Lopes, better known by her stage name Left Eye, was an American hip hop singer, rapper, songwriter and producer. She rose to fame in the early 1990s as one-third of the girl group TLC. Besides rapping and singing background vocals on TLC recordings, Lopes was one of the creative forces behind the group. She received more cowriting credits than the other members. She also designed the outfits and stage for the group and brought concepts to the group image, album titles, artworks and music videos. Through her work with TLC, Lopes won four Grammy Awards. via Wikipedia
AMARA LA NEGRA (Born October 4, 1990)
Source: latinaicons.com – Left Picture | Inspiration – Right Picture | Credit: Linda Nieves-Powell – Model: Ines de la Cruz – Makeup: Marlene Sanchez
Amara la Negra is a Miami born Afro-Latina of Dominican descent. Amara is only 26 years old, but she has dedicated her whole life to preparing to be on stage: taking singing, modeling and acting classes. She is a singer and rapper, her music is infused with Dominican rhythms.
LA INDIA (born March 9, 1969)
Source: latinaicons.com – Left Picture | Inspiration – Right Picture | Credit: Linda Nieves-Powell – Model: Marizol Leyva – Makeup: Marizol Leyva
Linda Viera Caballero, better known as La India, is a Puerto Rican singer and songwriter of salsa and house music. She has been nominated for both Grammy and Latin Grammy awards and won the Latin Grammy Award for Best Salsa Album for her Album Intensamente India Con Canciones De Juan Gabriel. via Wikipedia
While The Afro-Latina icons project is really unique and most likely the first one of its kind, this photo tribute is not the first one created by Linda. Late 2016, she partnered with actress and television producer Rebecca “Gitana” Torres to pay tribute to six trailblazing Latina icons ranging from Rita Morena, Frida Khalo and Selena Gomez.
When asked what will be emphasis of the next photo tribute, she responded: “A tribute to Extraordinary Single Mothers.” I cannot wait to see it 🙌