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Latina Legends

Josefina Lopez

(United States, 1969– )
As a voice for the misrepresented, playwright Josefina Lopez writes what has historically been silenced in order to empower and connect most women—and give men a glimpse of the power of a woman who is comfortable in her skin.

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I see how important the sacred feminine is to the survival of the planet and humanity.” ~Josefina Lopez

Josefina Lopez has been trying to break stereotypes and the misrepresentation of Latinos since her first big movie hit, Real Women Have Curves. Bought by HBO when she was just nineteen, it was originally written as a play. “Hollywood doesn’t get what it means to be Latino,” says Lopez. “I am Mexican-American and seeing the misrepresentation of Latinos pissed me off so much I decided to do something about it.”

That sense of injustice gave her a career. Most of her stories capture the wide range of Latino. She also writes about women’s bodies and curves with the awareness that comes from being a writer. As a voice for the misrepresented, she writes what has historically been silenced in order to empower and connect most women—and give men a glimpse of the power of a woman who is comfortable in her skin.

Diagnosed with ADD, Lopez says her mind rarely sits still. Story ideas come at her all the time. Since Real Women, she has had more than 80 of her works produced across the nation. She writes screenplays for television and movies, plays, and novels. She has traveled the world, lived abroad, and earned her bachelor’s degree in film and screenwriting from Columbia College Chicago and her MFA in screenwriting from UCLA.

Tired of fighting the battle with what Hollywood will or won’t produce, she opened her own theatre, CASA 0101, in Los Angeles, where she teaches, mentors and produces her works and those of others—and exhibits art in the interior gallery to promote another facet of creative genius. She often returns to this medium to ground herself. “Theatre is a spiritual experience. There is an exchange of light and energy between an audience and the actors. It can be life altering.”

Lopez’s life has been a journey of awakening not only herself, but for thousands of Latinas. Her mission: illuminate a path through the written word that will help women—especially Latinas—take pride in heritage but not at the expense of embracing peace in individuality. She wants to break stereotypes and rise above racism, sexism and ageism that hold women back, especially in Hollywood, she says, where there is often a warped view of what is considered beautiful.

As a young girl, Lopez yearned to see herself represented on television. Born in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, her family immigrated to the United States, where she remained undocumented for thirteen years. They lived in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles. “I felt invisible and wanted to see myself on TV because I thought that was the truth.”

Today, that truth is what drives Lopez to create images of what she wants to see: older, wiser, sexy women, and more positive images of Latinos. “More positive images that represent me.”

She is not afraid to write about painful issues like alcoholism, rape, abuse, and self-esteem, and strives to help young women realize they have a voice and can talk about any topic without shame. “Shame robs you of your power. So much of what isn’t said needs to be said.” What she really wants to do, produce, write, and see probably won’t happen in her lifetime, she says. “Like equality for women. Like a world without borders. What I write has to be for my great, great granddaughter. But that’s what lights me up.”

Her first novel, Hungry Woman in Paris, was released in 2009; You’ll Never Eat Tacos in This Town Again, is underway. Also in the works is the musical of Real Women, and the play Trio Los Machos, which is about three bachelor men in their 70s, who met while in the Bracero Program and began to play in a guitar trio. She is also writing a screenplay for Sony/Lifetime, based on the book by Julia Alvarez, Once Upon a Quinceanera.

Lopez was recognized at U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer’s seventh annual Women Making History banquet in 1998. She received a screenwriting fellowship from the California Arts Council in 2001, the Humanitas Prize for Screenwriting in 2002, and the Gabriel Garcia Marquez Award in 2003.

Through all her work, her mission remains clear. “I see how important the sacred feminine is to the survival of the planet and humanity. I want to bring consciousness through my work and continue to uplift women, Latinos, and our culture in a positive light.”

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Excerpt from: THE BOOK OF LATINA WOMEN: 150 VIDAS OF PASSION, STRENGTH, AND SUCCESS By Sylvia Mendoza

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