Actress Selenis Leyva, mother of the first Latina president of the United States.


Miami, Sep 14 (EFE News) .- 10 years ago Selenis Leyva was about to leave acting. Today she is one of the most successful Latinas in Hollywood with series on major platforms, in one of which she plays the mother of the girl who will be the first Latina to be president of the United States.

“In recent years, Hollywood has changed a lot when it comes to Latinos. It is missing, but we are in a new stage without a doubt. It is enough to see what has happened with my career to notice it, “Leyva said in an interview with Efe, in which she recalled how a decade ago she was getting used to the idea of ​​abandoning her dream of being an actress.

At that time, she had not yet received the offer to play Gloria Mendoza, in the Netflix series “Orange Is The New Black,” the role that changed her life. Further still was that of Gabi Cañero-Reed, the protagonist of “Diary of a Future President”, the Disney + series that has just premiered its second season.

“In 10 years I went from having serious financial difficulties to being in wonderful projects. From playing Latino women in a bad situation to being a woman with comforts, a career and an American boyfriend, as well as two incredible children, ”she highlighted when talking about the 180 degrees that her career has given.

Her present is far from the best scenario she imagined when she aspired to be able to support her daughter on a salary as an actress who worked regularly. “I didn’t even dream of this,” acknowledged the artist, who was born in Cuba and grew up in New York in the bosom of a Cuban and Dominican family.

The woman with comforts he talks about is Gabi, the mother in the Disney + series. “I am proud to show the audience a face of Latinos that we rarely see in film or television. We are showing that we no longer just have to act like criminals or domestic employees, or suffering workers, the poor. There are also success stories to tell ”, he highlighted.

According to Leyva, Gabi’s story deepens in the second season of “Diary of a Future President.” Their romantic relationship intensifies and the boys’ situations get more complicated. “Although it is a series with a children’s theme, it is for the whole family, with the depth of the characters that this implies,” added the actress.


In 2011, Selenis Leyva barely managed to appear in an episode of the series “Law and Order” and “Person of Interest”. He also participated in the short “Man in The Mirror”. He decided to give himself a year and in December 2012 he decided to give up. “I put everything to God in his hands. I gave him my future, but I no longer had a way to continue focusing all my energy on acting ”.

It was then that the offer came to him to participate in the tests in which the cast of “Orange Is The New Black” would be chosen, one of the first series with which Netflix achieved worldwide success.

“At first, Gloria’s character was very small, but after two seasons I signed a contract and she became a fixed character,” he said.

However, he was afraid of what would happen to his career when the series ended, because “even in 2019 there was not much demand for Latin actresses, fewer actresses who were not young,” he said.


However, until now the work has been constant and the offers increasingly important. In 2020 he was part of the new version of “Saved by the Bell” and in the film productions “Shadows” and “Disclosure”.

Also last year, just before the start of the pandemic, the first season of “Diary of a Future President” came out, for which he did not have to do cast tests.

“The series is by Gina Rodríguez and she herself called me to offer me the role of Gabi. He told me that they had created it with me in mind. That was a big change, ”he acknowledged.

Despite the challenges that the pandemic has brought, Leyva shot the movie “892” this year, in which he shares posters with John Boyega (Star Wars), Connie Britton (White Lottus) and the recently deceased Michael Kenneth Williams.

“It was very intense work, very hard physically and emotionally. I’m taking time off to recover, “he acknowledged.

His next project is with HBO, although he could not give details. However, he assured that he will continue to play Gabi if the series continues to be renewed.

Because for Leyva it is an “honor to represent this type of Latino family at this time, in which so much has been said about our community.”


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Actress Selenis Leyva, mother of the first Latina president of the United States.