'Real Women Have Curves': Hispanic Heritage Month Must-See Movies

Our must-see movie on this day in Hispanic Heritage Month is the 2002 indie hit starring America Ferrera, "Real Women Have Curves."

Chuck Walton

By Chuck Walton

Real Women Have Curves America Ferrera

(c) HBO/courtesy Everett Collection

Featuring America Ferrera in her movie debut, "Real Women Have Curves" is a Hispanic Heritage Month must-see. Winner of the Sundance Audience Award and Special Jury Prize, it's an urban dramedy that still rings true two decades later.

The Film

Based on a play by Josefina Lopez, "Real Women Have Curves" was adapted by Lopez and George LaVoo, and directed by Patricia Cardoso. It follows the life of 18-year-old Ana Garcia, who's from East Los Angeles but attends high school in Beverly Hills.

Garcia is a bright student, but is resigned to helping her family after graduation rather than attending college. Her mother Carmen (Lupe Ontiveros) is especially determined that her daughter remain in L.A. and work with sister Estella at a textile factory.

(c) HBO/courtesy Everett Collection

(c) HBO/courtesy Everett Collection

Ana's teacher, Mr. Guzman, sees her potential for better things. He attempts to persuade Ana's parents to allow her to apply for college admission. Carmen protests, but her father Raul is open to it. In secret, the teen applies and is accepted to Columbia University.

By story's end, Ana comes to realize that regardless of her mother's position, it is her own life's journey. It doesn't mean that tradition and family aren't important to her. In fact, she carries them with her, even if her path is a new one.

Hispanic Heritage Month Connections

The movie is true to the Mexican American experience. It reveals so many details of life as it's actually experienced by teens in East Los Angeles. Ferrera is a revelation in her role, and the movie was her breakout hit. Ontiveros as her loving yet overbearing mother is also perfectly cast. And Jorge Cervera Jr. as her father, and George Lopez as Mr. Guzman, both bring honesty to their parts.

Why You Should See It

"Real Women Have Curves" is a great depiction of a story that hasn't been told many times in American films. It's also, though, just a wonderful coming-of-age story. It's an empowering tale about a young woman embracing her identity. The movie's a gem worth discovering and rediscovering.

Did You Know

Besides being the debut of America Ferrera, the film is an important cultural motion picture. It was designated in 2019 for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Real Women Have Curves Poster

Real Women Have Curves


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Chuck Walton

Chuck is an editor/writer who's worked for NCM, Fandango, Movies.com, MediaTrip, Hollywood.com and Newsweek. His favorite movie is "Jaws." He's definitely a dog guy.

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