Highlighting Latino Entertainers with Disabilities in Honor of Hispanic Heritage Month

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Highlighting Latino Entertainers with Disabilities in Honor of Hispanic Heritage Month
– Lauren Appelbaum, RespectAbility Communications Director
The country just finished celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month, which began on Sept. 15, 2017 and ended Oct. 15, 2017. National Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes Hispanic and Latino American heritage and culture. This includes 4,869,400 Latinos living with a disability in the U.S. While studies show many people within the Latino and other communities hide their invisible disability due to negative stigmas, some Hollywood celebrities are using their voice to share their stories, educating people about both visible and invisible disabilities. Only 37 percent of working-age Latinos with disabilities are employed in the U.S., compared to 73.9 percent of working-age Latinos without disabilities. Our nation’s economy is strongest when it is inclusive of the value that diverse talent brings to the workplace. These celebrities are making a difference in how audiences, both Latino and non-Latino, perceive disability.
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Hispanic and Latino Celebrities Using Voices to Educate Viewers About Visible and Invisible Disabilities
Selena Gomez, Pop Star and Actress with Lupus
– By Julia Wood, RespectAbility Communications Fellow
Gomez uses her expansive platform to educate the world and invite people to engage with and learn about lupus, which affects 1.5 million people in America and five million worldwide.
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Selena Gomez wearing a white blouse with a cherry print posing for the camera with a yellow background
Salma Hayek wearing a blue top with her hand under her chin smiling for the camera
Steve Wynn: Legally Blind, with Vision in Business, Gaming & Philanthropy
Salma Hayek, Actress and Producer with Dyslexia
– By Katie Townes, RespectAbility Communications Fellow
Hayek embraced dyslexia as a child, later adapting how  to learn scripts. “Some people read really fast, but you’ll ask them questions about the script and they’ll forget. I take a long time to read a script, but I read it only once.”
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Frida Kahlo, Celebrated Self-Portrait Painter with Polio
– By Katie Townes, RespectAbility Communications Fellow
Throughout her life, Kahlo came face-to-face with her disabilities and turned them into art. She has many paintings depicting her disabilities. “I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality.”
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Frida Kahlo black and white headshot
Demi Lovato smiling at a microphone
Steve Wynn: Legally Blind, with Vision in Business, Gaming & Philanthropy
Demi Lovato, Pop Star and Actress with Bipolar Disorder
– By Julia Wood, RespectAbility Communications Fellow
“It’s important to speak up about the things you believe in, because your voice will be heard no matter what position you’re in,” she shared. “I just happen to be in a position where more people would hear my voice.”
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Gina Rodriguez, Actress with Anxiety
– By Theresa Maher, RespectAbility Communications Fellow
Rodriguez recently opened up on Instagram about her anxiety. “I wanted to protect her and tell her it’s ok to be anxious, there is nothing different or strange about having anxiety and I will prevail.”
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Gina Rodriguez smiling, seated on a chair
Michelle Rodriguez wearing a black tank and smiling
Michelle Rodriguez, Actress and Aspiring Writer/Director with ADD
– By Zein Al Maha Oweis, RespectAbility Communications Fellow
Known for her sexy and confident roles in Lost and Fast and Furious, Rodriguez now has set her eyes on writing and directing movies. “I want to write and direct, but it’s not easy with ADD. I have a hard time focusing when I’m alone.”
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Cristina Sanz, Reality TV Star with Down syndrome
– By Theresa Maher, RespectAbility Communications Fellow
Cristina and her fiance Angel are changing perceptions for people with disabilities’ ability to fall in love, get married and live independent lives, while being gainfully employed.
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Cristina smiling with fiance Angel
LATINOS WITH DISABILITIES MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN THEIR COMMUNITIES
Jeison Aristizábal seated in a chair smiling
Jeison Aristizábal, CNN Hero of the Year with Cerebral Palsy
– By Theresa Maher, RespectAbility Communications Fellow
Diagnosed with cerebral palsy shortly after he was born in impoverished Cali, Colombia,  Aristizábal now runs a nonprofit to provide educational and medical support for kids who live in the same conditions that he grew up in.
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Dr. Victor Pineda, Scholar and Activist in a Wheelchair
– By Julia Wood, RespectAbility Communications Fellow
“Whether you’re a student, a researcher, a community advocate or a policymaker, you will need to cultivate collaborative relationships and critical analysis skills that are built on a fundamental and comprehensive understanding of equity and inclusion.”
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Dr. Victor Pineda with a backdrop of a city's skyline behind him
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