Must-See Latino Biopics: 'El Cantante' , 'Selena' , 'Frida' and More

The celebrated lives of Latino icons like Selena Quintanilla, Héctor Lavoe and Ritchie Valens conquered the big screen in memorable biopics.

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EL CANTANTE

Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony on Location for "El Cantante" in Puerto Rico - Day 1
(Photo by GV Cruz/WireImage)

This isn't a photo from Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony's wedding album, but a behind-the-scenes shot from El Cantante, where the artists personified Puerto Rican salsa king Héctor Lavoe and his wife Puchi.

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Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony on Location for "El Cantante" - January 4, 2006
(Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)

The film by Cuban director Leon Ichaso recounted the bittersweet life of the Puerto Rican singer and how a music phenomenon known as 'salsa' conquered New York City in the 1960s.

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31st Annual Toronto International Film Festival - "El Cantante" Premiere - Arrivals
(Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)

“He was one of the best soneros that ever lived,” Lopez told The New York Times about Lavoe. “He was a voice of the people, a jíbaro, a boy from the sticks. People identified with him.”

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FRIDA

Salma Hayek On The Set Of the Film "Frida Kahlo"
(Photo by Susana Gonzalez/Newsmakers)

Salma Hayek's raw portrayal of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo in the Hollywood film Frida won the actress an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in 2003.

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2017 LACMA Art + Film Gala Honoring Mark Bradford And George Lucas - Arrivals
Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

"What I respond to with Frida is her courage to be unique; her courage to be different," Hayek told The Guardian. "She lived her life exactly as she wanted and never apologized."

06 of 17

LA BAMBA

Photo of Ritchie Valens
(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Ritchie Valens' life was cut short in a plane crash, but the Mexican-American singer was immortalized in the film La Bamba, which celebrated its 30th anniversary this year.

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Lou Diamond Phillips In 'La Bamba'
(Photo by Columbia Pictures/Getty Images)

Lou Diamond Phillips memorable portrayal of the groundbreaking singer launched his career. Valens, who defied racial stereotypes and appealed to the masses, died at age 17 alongside fellow musicians Buddy Holly and J.P. Richardson in 1959.

08 of 17

CELIA

3rd Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards - Rehearsals - Day 1
(Photo by M. Caulfield/WireImage)

Telemundo paid tribute to the Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz, with the series Celia, which celebrated her vibrant music and life.

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Telemundo's Latin American Music Awards 2015 - Press Room
(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

The iconic role of the Cuban guarachera went to two actresses: Jeimy Osorio, who played the younger Celia and Cuban singer Aymee Nuviola as the worldwide famous Celia. "She was a very loving person, very loved by her people. She was very respectful of her audience, of her husband," Nuviola told People en Español about Celia. "She was a woman with a lot of energy and character."

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MARIPOSA DE BARRIO

9th Annual Latin Grammy Awards - Show
(Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)

Mexican singer Jenni Rivera, who lost her life in a plane crash in 2012, came back to life in the Telemundo series Mariposa de Barrio, the biographical series authorized by the Rivera family.

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Screening Of Telemundo's "Jenni Rivera: Mariposa De Barrio" - Arrivals
(Photo by Tommaso Boddi/WireImage)

Mexican American actress Angélica Celaya played the challenging role. “My interpretation was not an imitation," she told People en Español. "There is only one Jenni Rivera and I'm not trying to replace her. My intention is to tell her story, the story behind the Diva of Banda, to show who was the woman, the warrior, the lioness, the woman that always fought for her children."

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HASTA QUE TE CONOCI

Juan Gabriel Honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for His Achievements in Music
(Photo by Albert L. Ortega/WireImage)

Mexican singer Juan Gabriel left behind an incomparable musical legacy when he died last year of a heart attack, devastating fans the world over with his sudden passing.

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Juan Gabriel serie
Instagram/ @julioroman1

The Telemundo series Hasta Que Te Conocí, based on the life of Juan Gabriel, received an Emmy nomination this year. Colombian actor Julián Román, who played the legendary singer, told People en Español of the production: “We will see how a person who had so many problems, so many bad things happen in his life, chose art and music to exorcise his demons."

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EL CESAR

2017 Latin American Music Awards - Arrivals
(Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)

The life of Mexican boxer Julio César Chávez is the latest Telemundo biographical series.

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Cesar Chavez series
Instagram/ @Telemundo

Actor Armando Hernández plays the lead role in El César, which premieres tonight at 8 p.m. EST on Telemundo.

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SELENA

Selena Archive
Vinnie Zuffante/Getty Images

It's been more than 20 years since Selena Quintanilla's tragic death, but the Queen of Tex Mex still reigns.

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Actress Jennifer Lopez, who plays Selena in the mo
SCOTT DEL AMO/AFP/Getty

Jennifer Lopez played the singer in the classic biopic Selena, launching the Nuyorican artist to international fame. "I felt she had a sense to live in the moment, that you're not promised tomorrow," Lopez told Billboard. "For me, that was the biggest lesson. That affected me in my life far more profoundly than the movie did in career terms."

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