The World Lost Lupe Ontiveros, a Trailblazing Actress

On Thursday evening, July 26th, the entertainment world lost a true trailblazer in films, Texas born Lupe Ontiveros. An artistic and cultural evolution began with Zoot Suit, triggered by Luis Valdez’s landmark work in California in the latter 1970s, and Lupe was a key part of both the play and then the movie.

Lupe was a member of a myriad of film and television projects after Zoot Suit, including major features like Goonies (1985) and As Good As It Gets, as well as with Latino landmark films like El Norte, Selena (1997), and Real Women Have Curves (2002).

Her work in television includes Desperate Housewives (2004-2012), Rob, Weeds, King of the Hill, Southland, only to name a few. In 2005, Ontiveros was nominated for an Emmy Award for her guest star role as Juanita “Mama” Solis, the nosy mother-in-law of Eva Longoria’s character on Desperate Housewives.

[Photo: CBS- Rob show cast, with Lupe Ontiveros top right in green]

A graduate of Texas Women’s University, with majors in psychology and social work, Lupe gave to her community in other ways. She was on the founding board for the Los Angeles Theatre Center. She made herself available to hundreds of non-profit organizations who used her time and talents. She always made time to help younger actors or filmmakers.

In 2010, Lupe was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by NALIP. It is one of dozens of honors she received from organizations, among them, Sundance, the Emmy’s National Board of Review, and the Independent Spirit Awards.

She is survived by her husband and three sons.

I had a wonderful time talking to this great individual within the last few years during an interview and it will remain a very memorable one for me always.

Que en paz descanse.

Liz Lopez, Austin based journalist


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