At forty-five years old, Selenis Leyva has no plans of slowing down in her career. With her fan-favorite role as Gloria Mendoza on Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black, the actress forms part of the cast of the this summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming as science professor Mrs. Warren.
With many stars in Hollywood feeling like Latinos are misrepresented, Leyva feels “fortunate” to be a real-life example of what the community can deliver more. “Latinas are still, unfortunately—or fortunately for some— just looked at as sex objects, as people that maybe are just there to show their curves, to make people laugh by their mispronunciations of names or words,” she tells Chica. “We’re actors; we’re trained. I love the fact that I can play Gloria Mendoza, a prisoner and now be in Spider-Man: Homecoming as a teacher.”
The actress also reveals that she wants to try being not so alive for her one of her dream roles as “a walker” on The Walking Dead. “Obsessed! I want to be in the world of zombie apocalypse,” she admitted.
And acting isn’t Leyva’s only passion. The OITNB star has continued to work with the LGBTQ community through the Stonewall Foundation and The Anti-Violence Project. “I am a true believer that everyone should be entitled to live their truth without fear of discrimination [and] of violence against them.”
Leyva has spoken out about her transgender sister and the discrimination she faces in comparison to celebrities like Caitlyn Jenner, who graced the cover of Vanity Fair. “My sister is not famous, in fact, she is having a hard time finding employment to this date. She is still struggling to be accepted, and she is still in danger every time she leaves her home,” the actress wrote for the Huffington Post in 2015. “The reality is that most transgender people continue to struggle with acceptance. Most will not be celebrated and put on magazine covers.”
Be sure to catch Selenis in Season 5 of Orange Is the New Black now on Netflix and in Spider-Man: Homecoming, out in theaters on July 7th.