Latina actresses Diane Guerrero and Jackie Cruz, known for their roles in the Netflix series "Orange is the new Black," have channeled their star power into an online video aimed at turning out the hundreds of thousands of Latinos who will turn 18 by Election Day 2016.
The online video was released by Mi Familia Vota (MFV) and Vivala Thursday. Come Saturday, it will be one year before voters head to the polls to vote in general election that, among other things, will decide the next president.
MFV is a national nonprofit Latino civic engagement group and Vivala is a website geared to millennial Latinas.
"It is time for Latinos to show our political muscle," Guerrero says in the message. "If you're 18 or older before the presidential election, register to vote." Cruz adds, "It is your duty to vote, as a citizen, so make sure you're registered."
According to the U.S. Census, about 800,000 Latinos are turning 18 each year, which means the Latino electorate could grow. However, younger voters have very low turnout rates.
Recently appointed a Presidential Ambassador for Citizenship and Naturalization, Guerrero is a partner of MFV's campaigns and has appeared in videos promoting Latino voter registration. In addition to "Orange is the new Black," she has also appeared in the successful television series "Jane the Virgin." She was 14 years old when her parents and older brother were deported to Colombia.
The New York-born, Dominican Republic-raised Cruz graduated from the performing arts program at Hamilton High's Academy of Music in Los Angeles. After being a recurring character for "Orange is the new Black" since Season 1, Cruz was promoted to regular for the show's Season 4, where she plays Flaca Gonzales. She is a founding creator of Vivala, which launched earlier this year.
In an interview with Vivala, Cruz stressed the importance of Latino involvement in the elections. "The Latino community should know their voice is as important as anyone else's in this country. We are like a big muscle and we can change anything," Cruz said, "We need to make sure to get more involved and have more responsibility of what's going on around you."
Guerrero emphasized that "If you ignore politics and the legislative behavior of politicians, you will not be part of the conversation and you will be ignored. Issues that affect every day lives, like affordable health care, college tuition rates, fair wages and social justice issues like immigration reform and voting rights, are too important to ignore."
Ben Monterroso, executive director of MFV, cited the importance of the Guerrero, Cruz, Vivala and MFV collaboration.
"Latinos, especially those who will be eligible to vote for the first time next year, want to hear from a new generation of leaders, and we have seen the great impact of Ms. Guerrero's work on behalf of MFV and other partners," Monterroso said. "We hope that their enthusiasm inspires many, many Latinos to register to vote and stay involved."
As part of the election countdown, MFV planne to hold voter registration and citizenship workshops in Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Arizona, California and Texas on Saturday