On Thursday, veteran film and television actress Lupe Ontiveros passed away at the age of 69. A Mexican-American character actress, Ontiveros struggled through type-casting throughout her career; her signature role became the Hispanic maid, which Ontiveros believes she played 150 times in films such as James L. Brook's As Good As It Gets. In 2002 Ontiveros told the New York Times she was "proud to represent those hands that labor in this country. I've given every maid I've ever portrayed soul and heart."
Ontiveros's career spanned 35 years in which she held feature roles in films like Selena, The Goonies, and Real Women Have Curves. In recent years, Ontiveros became more widely known for her role as Eva Longoria's mother-in-law on Desperate Housewives. The role earned her an Emmy nomination.
Ontiveros, who only stood 4 feet 11 inches tall, remains a symbol of perserverance and success for the Latino community in Hollywood. "Lupe Ontiveros was a gift," actor Edward James Olmos told the Los Angeles Times on Friday. "She was part of the evolutionary process of the art form of Latino storytelling in the last 30-plus years. She was one of the true pioneers of the Latin artistic movement in theater, film and television."
Outside of her career, Ontiveros worked as an advocate for the hearing impaired, two out of three of her sons are hearing impaired. Her advocacy included a successful bid for the PBS animated series Maya & Miguel, in which she voiced the grandmother, to incorporate American Sign Language into one episode.
Ontiveros was born Guadalupe Moreno in El Paso, Texas in 1942. She is survived by her husband of 46 years, three sons, and two granddaughters.