A veteran actress who carved out a long career in feature films and on television has died, The Huffington Post reports. Lupe Ontiveros, known for her performances in “As Good as It Gets” and “Selena,” died Thursday at 69, reportedly from liver cancer.
Ontiveros, a Mexican-American, played Yolanda Saldivar, the convicted killer of pop singer Selena, in the 1997 film “Selena,” and appeared in the Oscar-winning “As Good as It Gets” the same year. She was nominated for an Emmy for a guest appearance on “Desperate Housewives” in 2005.
In a widely cited interview with NPR in 2009, Ontiveros estimated that she played a maid at least 150 times. "You’ve got maids and you’ve got maids," she is quoted as saying. "You got maids that have longevity beyond what you ever conceived of in your wildest dreams. I’ll give you an example — ‘The Goonies.’ Those that got hooked — I have a whole following of 30-year-olds who got hooked. Oh my gosh, I’m a heroine to them."
Among her many TV credits, Ontiveros appeared on "Hill Street Blues,” “Reba" and "Who’s The Boss.” She recently played Abuelita on “Rob.”
On the big screen her credits included "Born in East L.A.,” “The Border” and “California Suite.”
“Aside from being a Latina icon, and an immensely talented actress, Ontiveros should also be credited with opening doors and breaking down barriers for the new generation of Latina stars,” The Huffington Post reports. “In that same NPR interview, Ontiveros talked about Latina actresses like Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayek and her friend America Ferrera, and said they have opportunities she never had."
"[America Ferrera] probably has already formulated the kinds of roles she will or will not accept. She doesn’t have to sacrifice her identity, her culture or her dignity to become a star," Ontiveros said in the interview.
She is survived by her husband and three adult children.