The Story of Pachacuti Inca

The story of Pachacuti Inca starts in Cusco where he was a ruler and the founder of what would become the great Incan Empire. Although in his early life, he was never meant to succeed the crown of Cusco from his father. Pachacuti had a brother named Urco and succession of the throne was to go to him.  However, Pachacuti earned the right to rule and showed his father that he deserved to rule over the kingdom by fending off an invasion by a rival tribe called the Chankas.

The Story of Pachacuti Inca

The Merit of Pachacuti’s Rule

The Chanka had long since been an enemy of Cusco and the story goes that they decided to invade the kingdom with a massive army.  Pachacuti’s brother and father, fearing death fled the city but Pachacuti stayed behind and saw the invasion as an opportunity to show his father that the kingdom would not only be safe, but flourish under his rule.  Pachacuti acted swiftly and gathered an army to fend off the Chanka.  Not only did they quell the would be invasion but they beat the Chanka so soundly that legends emerged from that battle.

The Earth Shaker

The people could not believe how badly the Chanka had been beaten by the military intelligence and stratagems of Pachacuti that they created a story about it.  They said that the rocks themselves rose up from the earth to assist Pachacuti in battle and that is how he earned the name “The Earth Shaker.”

Coming Into Power

Of course, Pachacuti’s father eventually died but before he did, Pachacuti earned his father’s blessing as the successive ruler of Cusco.  This was to be the birth of the Incan Empire.  At that time, Cusco was just a small hamlet but Pachacuti had a grand vision for his kingdom and saw it stretching much further than its humble borders at the time of his succession.  He went to work launching military campaigns to conquer neighboring lands and was very successful.

The Story of Pachacuti Inca

The Story of Pachacuti Inca

Organizing An Empire

With the aid of his son, Pachacuti built Cusco into a might capitol city that was the center of the Incan Empire. He was a very skilled warrior and military strategist.  He also had a mind for politics.  When Pachacuti would conquer a new land and add it to his empire, he was not overtly cruel to the defeated people.  Instead he offered them membership into the empire in exchange for their subservience.  He did not lay cultures to waste but assimilated them.

He also used nonmilitary methods of broadening his borders.  Pachacuti Inca was known to dispatch spies into other territories and kingdoms in order to find out how they might be coaxed into ceding their land to him.  These spies found out about military weaknesses, economic needs and other vital pieces of information.

Pachacuti then came to the leaders of these lands and offered them what he knew they needed and enticed them with wealth, peace and protection under the Incan Empire.  Most took him up on this offer and in exchange, Pachacuti allowed them to continue to rule in their land as sub-governors of the Incan Empire.


The Incan Empire was born and flourished during and after the life of Pachacuti Inca.  He died in 1471 but not before he absorbed into his kingdom much of South America.  His kingdom included what we now know as Chile, the south of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and the northern half of Argentina making it one of the largest empires in South American history.

Pachacuti was considered the Napoleon of South America and there are many statues of him in Cusco that still stand today. The story of Pachacuti Inca tells that he was in incredible ruler who organized a sophisticated and massive empire that would last until the Spanish conquest.

Who Was Simon Bolivar

Who was Simón Bolivar?  Is one of the most frequent questions people ask me when they know of my Hispanic background. Simón Bolivar was actually a pretty complex individual, at least from the standpoint of bygone history.  His nickname was El Libertador (the liberator) because he fought for the liberation of so many South American countries.

In many ways, as I researched the man and his accomplishments, I was reminded very much of Ché Guevara.  They were both born into wealthy families, they were both well-educated and they both became passionate fighters for independence and revolution. They were also seen at the time and now as polarizing figures.

Of course there are the contingents that celebrate both men as freedom fighters and revolutionaries, but their political beliefs were always a point of contention.

Who Was Simón Bolivar and What Did He Accomplish?                                  

After being educated in Spain, Bolivar returned to his homeland of Venezuela although at that time it was known as New Granada.  During the time that Bolivar lived, the late 1700’s and early 1800’s much of South America was still under Spanish colonial rule.

For Bolivar being under Spain’s rule  was unsatisfactory and during his time in Spain he had moved about in the European circles where he conjured up many political ideas and beliefs that he borrowed from European nations. For example, he wanted to implement in South America a parliamentary system like the one Britain had.

He also had some political views that were somewhat unpopular.  For instance, he favored a lifetime presidency for his vision of a united South America free from Spanish rule.  Still, in his heart, Bolivar was a freedom fighter.  He led many military campaigns in South America that won independence for various South American countries such as Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama and Colombia.

Who Was Simon Bolivar?

Who Was Simon Bolivar?

During his life he formed the Gran Colombia which was a united federation that included the four aforementioned countries. Although the union was unstable and Bolivar would have to flee his homeland due to civil war and unrest, he left an indelible mark on the entire South American continent.

Manuela Sáenz

A discussion no matter how brief about Simón Bolivar must include his lover and muse Manuela Sáenz.  Although Bolivar was married to a woman who would eventually die of yellow fever, many considered Saenz to be Bolivar’s proper counterpart as she was herself a fiery activist and proponent of South American liberation.

Manuelita Sáenz as many knew her, helped Bolivar during many of his campaigns and aided in his escape an assassination attempt in Bolivia where he had named himself dictator.  She was herself born in Quito, Ecuador of Spanish descent and became a figurehead of South American liberation thanks to her efforts with Bolivar himself.

Later Life

Simón Bolivar’s days would see him liberate many territories from the Spanish, be named dictator of Peru and Bolivia and finally flee for exile in Europe.   He was a polarizing figure but had a grand vision and with any grand, revolutionary vision, there are bound to be detractors.

Such was the case for Bolivar who had dreams that mimicked the state system of the U.S., the parliamentary system of Britain and ones that were his own.  His leadership roles were short-lived but he succeeded in freeing much of South America from Spanish rule.

Simón Bolivar died in Santa Marta, Colombia on December 17th, 1830.  Many experts believed that he succumbed to tuberculosis.


The Strange Tale of Oscar Zeta Acosta

When I pose it to others, even Latinos, if they know the name Oscar Zeta Acosta, the answer is usually no. My next question is invariably “have you seen Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas?” to which many people say yes. Then I tell them that Oscar Zeta Acosta is the character portrayed by Benicio Del Toro known as Dr. Gonzo. This is usually more familiar to people but there is so much more to the man Oscar Zeta Acosta than how he was portrayed in that movie. Oscar Zeta Acosta was a self-made man. A proud Mexican American, author, lawyer and most importantly an activist.

Humble Beginnings

Oscar Acosta was born in El Paso, Texas a border town that doesn’t have a whole lot of prospects for young students. So Oscar went west to attend San Francisco State University and eventually earned his law degree at the San Francisco School of Law.

It was around the late 60’s and early 70’s when Los Angeles was a hotbed of political unrest and activism and soon Acosta found himself in L.A. in the thick of it all. He became heavily engaged in the Brown Pride and Chicano movement and fought tooth and nail in Los Angeles courtrooms to fight discrimination against Mexican Americans.

Hostility in the Streets

These were very tense times for everyone. African Americans were fighting for equality and Mexican Americans, who felt disenfranchised by the government, harassed by the LAPD and generally unheard in local politics, were fighting for a fair shake at the American dream. Oscar was a typical figure at many Chicano protests in Los Angeles and took the cases of many Chicano activists who could not afford legal counsel.

The Chicano contingent was galvanized and came to a head when in 1970 a Hispanic reporter named Ruben Salazar was sitting peacefully in a bar in the Whittier area when he was struck in the head by a tear gas can fired by an LAPD officer and killed immediately. The Chicano community was outraged and it was none other than the fiery Oscar Acosta who demanded persecution of the officer and even subpoenaed every single judge of the Los Angeles Supreme Court.

He was a leader and unifier of the Chicano movement and took the cases of other high profile Chicano figures such as Rudolfo Gonzales who founded the Denver based Chicano organization “Crusade for Justice.”

The Strange Tale of Oscar Zeta Acosta

The Strange Tale of Oscar Zeta Acosta

The Man Vs. the Myth

To say that Oscar Acosta was a man of conflicting interests would be an understatement. He was so zealous that he wouldn’t think twice about taking a ridiculously impossible case so long as it afforded him the chance to rail against the Anglo government system that he saw as the enemy. He fought vehemently and often too vehemently-taking cases of violent offenders who claimed to be Chicano. He was always in the barrio talking to and organizing the Mexican population in Los Angeles and this sometimes meant being in the company of unsavory characters.

He was a man of the people, even criminals. That fact coupled with the caricature based on Acosta known as Dr. Gonzo created by the author Hunter S. Thompson have overshadowed the accomplishments and noble endeavors of Oscar Zeta Acosta. It is kind of sad that I have to point out that he inspired the character of Dr. Gonzo in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas for people to even begin to know who I am talking about but that is how much Acosta’s legend has outgrown his reality.

Acosta disappeared mysteriously off the coast of Mazatlan, Mexico in 1974 and has long since been presumed dead. People have suspected political assassination, a random argument spurred by politics that got to heated and resulted in his death and simply hanging out with the wrong people. At any rate, the fact that his death still remains a mystery seems fitting for a man who has since become more of a legend.

Gustavo Dudamel Biography

If we think about child prodigies and classical music, most people will think of age-old talents such as Mozart or Beethoven – most of them European. But Latin America has its own very talented classical conductors and composers, as well, who do their best to keep this art alive and relevant for today’s audiences. Gustavo Dudamel from Venezuela is one of those musicians.

At only 33 years old, Gustavo Adolfo Dudamel Ramírez is one of the most popular and most recognized classical music directors in the world, and one of the most famous Hispanic people, as well.

He was born on January 26, 1981 and found his passion in music very young, as the son of a trombonist and a singing teacher who enjoyed listening to symphonies while other kids of his age still painted with their fingers. He took up the violin at age ten then soon began to study composition.

Gustavo Dudamel Biography, Early Years

Gustavo Dudamel, one of classical music's rising stars.

Gustavo Dudamel, one of classical music’s rising stars.

Dudamel first studied music at home with his father but then became involved with El Sistema de Orquestas Juveniles e Infantiles de Venezuela (The System of Youth and Child Orchestras).

El Sistema de Orquestas Juveniles e Infantiles de Venezuela is a famous Venezuelan musical education program with a noble mission: to keep at-risk young people out of dangerous situations in their communities, such as drugs or violence.

Through El Sistema children learn music – formally – so that their free time is spent enjoying cultural activities, as well as spending time with others with similar interests.

El Sistema left a huge impact on his life, and Dudamel has promoted the initiative in many countries, so that younger generations can take advantage of these kinds of projects the way he did when he was a child.

Having had success in Venezuela with El Sistema and the Simón Bolivar Youth Orchestra, a young Dudamel competed in – and won – conducting competitions, including the Gustav Mahlar Conducting Prize, starting the young man from South America on the way to an international career.

Dudamel, Young but Dedicated

In any Gustavo Dudamel biography, it is impossible to leave out one important aspect of his work life: his dedication.

Dudamel is known not only for his talent, but also for the seriousness with which he approaches music. Not satisfied to be considered the whiz kid, Gustavo is consistently praised for his work ethic. This trait, along with his charismatic personality and youthful appearance, have led to his status as one of the most popular conductors around.

Since 2009, Dudamel has been the music director of Los Angeles Philharmonic, and like the conductors of other major orchestras, Dudamel is well-paid.

His salary for 2011-12 (the last year that Gustavo Dudamel salary information was available) was over $1.4 million including benefits. The L.A. Phil is clearly pleased with Gustavo Dudamel ticket sales and has actually extended his previous contract through 2019.

Examples of Recordings of his Presentations

Gustavo Dudamel: Mambo (Fiesta) with the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela. (2008)
Mahler: Symphony No. 8 with Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela (2012)
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5; Francesca da Rimini with the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela (2009)
Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra with Los Angeles Philharmonic (2007)

Gustavo Dudamel also continues to be the music director for the Simón Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, reflecting his commitment to his country and the musical education he received.

Given all that he has accomplished at such a young age, it’s clear that the Gustavo Dudamel biography still has many pages left to be written.

Are you a fan of Gustavo Dudamel? Let us know in the comments!

Juan Luis Guerra Biography

When you want to talk about important Latin musicians, it’s impossible not to mention legend Juan Luis Guerra. From the Dominican Republic, this well-known singer and songwriter was creating music to the smooth rhythms of bachata long before the current crop of Latin crooners made this type of music popular with urban Hispanic youth.

Juan Luis Guerra Biography and Early Life

Juan Luis Guerra was born on June 7, 1957. As a ten-year old, he already knew how to play guitar, but he didn’t discover that music was his real passion until much later.

Juan Luis studied philosophy and literature at the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, an education which is clearly reflected in his poetic and socially conscious lyrics.

He then decided to try his luck in the United States, where he attended the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston. During that time, he returned periodically to his native country the Dominican Republic to work at a television channel so he could afford his stay in the United States.

Juan Luis Guerra, in a concert in Madrid.

Juan Luis Guerra, in a concert in Madrid.

An essential part of any Juan Luis Guerra biography is that he has been internationally awarded many times for his work, with achievements that practically no Hispanic singers and musicians have ever accomplished before. He won his first Grammy for “Bachata Rosa” (1990) with his band 440 and has continued from there.

Many of his best-known records have topics which discuss social issues. For example, “Ojalá que llueva café” (1989), the album that represented the beginning of his international career. The title song, now a classic of Latin music, metaphorically wishes for food (and coffee, “café”) to rain from the sky so that the peasants have something to eat.

In 1992, he released “Areíto,” creating controversy due to the lyrics of the songs which protest against the challenges and poor conditions present in Latin America.

Famous Juan Luis Guerra Songs

Want to hear for yourself? Here are a few of his most popular songs:

“Ojalá que llueva café”
“Burbujas de amor”
“Bachata rosa”
“Estrellitas y duendes”
“El costo de la vida”
“Como abeja al panal”
“A pedir su mano”
“Palomita blanca”
“La Llave de Mi Corazón”
“Mi PC”
“Las avispas”
“Para ti”

His personal life has also influenced his music in direct ways. In 2004, after six years of silence he came back with “Para ti,” an album that represents Guerra’s conversion to Christianity.

Although some fans were disappointed by the evangelism in his lyrics, this album sold more than half a million copies and earned him two Billboard Awards.

Juan Luis Guerra Tours

He has always toured heavily world-wide and the Juan Luis Guerra tour continues to sell out throughout Latin America.

He even once said that at the beginning of his career, sometimes he was so exhausted on tour that he couldn’t even remember which country he was in! At that time, the tour was one of the most anticipated tours in the region, with Juan Luis Guerra tickets selling out long in advance.

Guerra, known for his beard, hat, and infectious smile, is one of the most famous Hispanic people and has worked with many other Latin and non-Latin artists, even touring with some.

Guerra has also surprised his fans by singing in other languages such as English (“July 19th”) or Portuguese (“Fogaraté”).

Another key aspect of any Juan Luis Guerra biography is the message that his music and his concerts give. Guerra is well-known for his positive lyrics, and his shows reflect that. He tries to transmit his faith to the audience, encouraging them to be optimistic and thankful to God for His gifts.

Guerra continues to be commercially successful, and any Juan Luis Guerra biography is certainly a work in progress.

Are you a fan of Juan Luis Guerra fan? Tell us your favorite songs in the comments!

Anthony Quinn Biography

This Anthony Quinn biography is the story of an incredibly prolific actor who appeared in over 200 movies in his career.  Anthony Quinn should be recognized as a pioneer who paved the way for Hispanic actors to get taken seriously in Hollywood.

Anthony’s friends knew him as a passionate man who married three times, fathered 12 children, and never gave up his quest to find ways to speak to the human spirit through the arts—on and off screen. This Anthony Quinn biography presents just a taste of his many accomplishments.

Anthony Quinn Biography – Early Life

Born Antonio Rodolfo Quinn Oaxaca in Chihuahua, Mexico in 1915, Anthony Quinn seemed destined for adventure. Indeed, while still in the womb he participated in revolutionary marches under the banner of Pancho Villa.

By eight months of age, Quinn had escaped with his mother to El Paso Texas in a coal wagon. When Quinn’s father joined them about three years later, the family moved to California in search of work and settled in Los Angeles.

Anthony Quinn and His Interest in the Arts

From an early age, Anthony Quinn showed an interest in and talent for the arts. He won a statewide sculpting contest at age nine, and enjoyed sketching the movie stars he met while accompanying his father to work at Zelig’s Studio.

When Anthony’s father died suddenly, 11-year-old Quinn put art aside temporarily to support his family. He skipped school to take work as a migrant farm worker, a newsboy, a preacher, a taxi driver, and a welterweight boxer.

During this time, Quinn did participate in one important art contest. His design for a marketplace won him the opportunity to study with legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The relationship with Wright proved instrumental to the development of Quinn’s future film career.

Film Career

Anthony Quinn Biography

Anthony Quinn exits the theater after the 40th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, 8/28/88
Photo by Alan Light

Anthony Quinn first began to explore the world of acting after Wright encouraged him to attend an acting school to improve his speech. While in school, Quinn performed in a well-reviewed play.This in turn led to other small parts in plays and movies. From 1936 to 1947, Quinn appeared in over 50 films, usually playing an ethnic character, often a villain.

In 1947, Quinn became a naturalized American citizen, and did not return to Hollywood until the early 1950s. He continued to specialize in tough guy roles.

His big break and the key moment in the Anthony Quinn biography came from his role in “Viva Zapata” alongside Marlon Brando. Quinn won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the role, thereby becoming the first Mexican-American actor to receive an Oscar. He won this award a second time in 1956 for his role in “Lust For Life.”

Famous Anthony Quinn Movies

All told, Anthony Quinn appeared in over 200 movies in the course of his nearly 60-year career as an actor. Some of the most famous Anthony Quinn movies include:

  • Viva Zapata
  • Lust for Life
  • Wild is the Wind
  • Zorba the Greek
  • The Guns of Navarone
  • Laurence of Arabia

A Second Career

By the 1980s, Quinn’s film appearances had become fewer. He discovered a second career as an artist, drawing on a lifelong habit of creating small sculptures from bits of stone and wood found on site during film production.

Quinn made his sculptures larger with the intent of decorating his own home, but soon found others wanted to buy them. A gallery showing of his work in Hawaii sold out completely.

Last Days of Anthony Quinn

Roughly a month after finishing his last movie, “Avenging Angelo” with Sylvester Stallone, Anthony Quinn passed away at the age of 86. His legacy of moving the human spirit lives on in Anthony Quinn films and in his art.

If you are interested in knowing more about other famous Hispanic actors simply visit Hispanic Bios where I share many of the bios of inspiring Hispanics.

Jorge Ramos Biography

The Jorge Ramos biography begins in Mexico City, where the future media star was born in 1958. Young Jorge grew up enjoying track, soccer, and tennis. Even as a high school student, he had a grand vision for his future, wanting to become “indispensable” to his community.

He studied communications at Mexico City’s Universidad Iberoamericana and soon earned a post as a reporter for the Mexican media conglomerate Televisa. Unfortunately, Ramos found that Televisa often censored his stories in an effort to appease Mexico’s then-ruling party, PRI.

In search of freedom of speech, Ramos secured a student visa and moved to Los Angeles in 1983. After a year of waiting tables to pay for his studies at UCLA, Ramos got his big break when a local Univision TV affiliate hired him as a reporter. This in turn led to another job on the morning news in Miami Florida, and finally to a spot on Univision’s national broadcast.

Jorge Ramos Biography – Career with Univision

Jorge Ramos biography

Foto: EFE/Archivo

Experts consider Jorge Ramos one of the most recognized and respected journalists in the Hispanic community, not only in the US but also in Latin America. Ramos has his partnership with Univision to thank for this.

When Univision promoted him to their evening news anchor in 1986, Ramos became one of the youngest news anchors America had ever seen. Yet he conducted himself with the utmost professionalism, taking on serious social and political issues in his stories and speaking with eloquence, power, and credibility.

Ramos has interviewed every US president since George Bush Sr. as well as dozens of Latin American presidents, including such controversial figures as Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro.

He has earned a reputation for being “the voice of the voiceless,” willing to ask tough questions and shine light on issues others would perhaps prefer not to discuss.

Even after getting punched by a bodyguard for asking Fidel Castro a tough question about democratic elections, Jorge Ramos has continued to uphold his high standards of journalistic integrity on his daily news show, his weekly political show, and in countless guest appearances on English stations from CNN to PBS to Fox News.

Notable Accomplishments

Today Jorge Ramos’ Univision show reaches six times as many Hispanic homes as any English news station.

He has earned countless recognitions for his influence in the Latino community and in the world of journalism, including:
• 8 Emmys for excellence in journalism
• Maria Moors Cabot Award for excellence in journalism
• Ruben Salazar Award for positive portrayal of Latinos from the Council of La Raza
• Featured in Time magazine’s Top 25 Most Influential Hispanics in the US
• Featured in Newsweek’s list of Top 50 Political and Media Figures
• Named one of Top Ten Latino Leaders by Latino Leaders magazine
• Received Latino Book Award in 2006

Jorge Ramos Books

Of course, no Jorge Ramos biography would be complete without mention of his writing. In addition to his TV appearances, Ramos writes a weekly column that appears in over 40 newspapers in The New York Times Syndicate.

Ramos has also penned 10 books, many which explore a topic very close to his heart, namely immigration. These books include:

• The Latino Wave: How Hispanics Are Transforming Politics in America
• No Borders: A Journalist’s Search for Home
• Dying to Cross: The Worst Immigrant Tragedy in American History
• The Other Face of America: Chronicles of the Immigrants Shaping Our Future
• What I Saw
• Hunting the Lion
• Behind the Mask
• The Gift of Time: Letters from a Father
• A Country For all: An Immigrant Manifesto
• I’m Just Like My Dad/I’m Just Like My Mom (children’s book)

If you would like to learn more about Jorge Ramos, his autobiography, No Borders: A Journalist’s Search for Home, makes an excellent place to start.

Wanting to know more about other famous Hispanic people?  Visit my article Famous Hispanics here.

Zoe Saldana Biography

Best known for her role as a blue-skinned alien in Avatar, sexy Latina actress Zoe Saldana has been turning heads for years now. A look at a Zoe Saldana biography helps explain why this proud Latina woman is so comfortable—and successful—in her own skin.

Zoe Saldana Biography – Early Life

Zoe Saldana was born Zoe Yadira Saldaña Nazario in 1978 in Queens, New York to a Puerto Rican mother and a Dominican father. Her father died in a car crash when Zoe was 9. Zoe and her sisters grew up in Queens and in the Dominican Republic, so from an early age Zoe felt close to her roots.

Zoe Saldana studied ballet, jazz, and Latin dance in the Dominican Republic and performed in youth theatre groups in the US, which prepared her to land her first movie role in 2000.


Zoe Saldana biography

Zoe Saldana Star Trek

Any Zoe Saldana biography would have to mention her big-screen debut in the move Center Stage. In this film, Zoe played a ballet dancer and allowed her natural dance talent to shine through.

After Center Stage’s release in 2000, Zoe Saldana appeared in several other movies, most notably in 2003’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, where she again played a very strong female character.

Zoe Saldana really catapulted into the public eye when she starred in James Cameron’s Avatar in 2009. As a self-professed sci fi fan, Saldana jumped at the chance to participate in this groundbreaking film set on an alien planet that looks a lot like the cloud forest in Costa Rica.

If you look for Zoe Saldana in Avatar you won’t see the face you expect—this movie was entirely digital. Saldana provided the movements that were used to animate the character of Neytiri, as well as the voice of this alluring alien princess.

The very same year, Saldana also appeared in another major sci fi blockbuster, Star Trek. She played Uhura, and this role really cemented her position in popular culture. Zoe Saldana started appearing in tons of magazine spreads and indulging her passion for fashion on the red carpet. She soon reprised the role of Uhura in the sequel Star Trek Into Darkness.

Though in these films Saldana looked very glamorous with careful makeup, other Zoe Saldana movies show the actress in a more natural state.

Out of the Furnace in particular showed that Saldana can pull off a real life, girl next door look with very little makeup.

Zoe Saldana On Her Roots

Though still quite a young woman herself, Zoe Saldana has accomplished a great deal and already serves as a great role model for young Latinas.

In an interview with Latina magazine, Saldana discussed her Latina roots and heritage. Zoe’s mother inspired her by refusing to label or categorize her as Hispanic or black or even as a “mujer de color.” Whenever young Zoe would ask about her heritage, her mother would just say, “You’re Zoe. You’re my daughter.”

Today Zoe continues to feel very connected to her roots, including an obsession with her hair. She told InStyle magazine that hair is very important in her culture, and she has always been happy with the skin and hair she has. Zoe Saldana’s hair is very versatile and she looks fabulous no matter what she does with it.

Her stylists reveal that Saldana loves to participate in creating her looks for various red carpet events, and the star is so bold that she’d even start cutting her hair herself if an instinct told her to.

We’ll just have to wait and see how the rest of Zoe Saldana’s career plays out, and how the strong sense of self instilled in her by her Puerto Rican mom guides her along the way.