Police detective Emilia Cruz is the main character in CLIFF DIVER, the first novel in my new mystery series set in Acapulco. She’s the first and only female police detective in Acapulco, a strong Latina woman who knows the value of family, how to fight for what she wants, and how to hold her own in a squadroom full of male cops who don’t want her and are still trying to break her.
These qualities were inspired by three real-life Latina women whose stories provide inspiration, not only to lovers of mystery series, but for us all.
Known For: Bronze medal winner for women’s boxing at the 2012 London Olympics, as well as 6 US national championships, a gold medal at the 2008 Pan Am Games, and a bronze medal at the 2006 World Championships.
Qualities That Matter: As Esparza’s talents moved her from her Houston neighborhood and into the international spotlight as the first US female Olympic boxer, she hasn’t lost her connection to her roots. In an interview with USA Today’s Hispanic Living magazine she said that when she came home after London, “I realized for me, it was about the gold medal, but for other people it wasn’t about the gold medal. It was how I made something out of nothing.”
Emilia Cruz learned to fight as a young girl as well, tagging along with her male cousins. Her skill lets her defend herself and blow off steam by kickboxing. It also helped her climb the police ranks.
Quote: If you really know…what you want and how to get there, then everything else really falls into place. (Cosmopolitan Magazine)
Known For: Her award-winning role as Betty Suarez in the series Ugly Betty and movies such as The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants and 2012’s cop thriller End of Watch. In addition to her film work she’s an advocate for Voto Latino.
Qualities That Matter: Onscreen, Ferrera is fierce, able to project true depth of emotion. The scene in the first The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants in which she sobs out pent-up anger to her father over the phone is a riveting piece of acting. She perfectly captured the gritty cop vibe in End of Watch; the movie’s prep included police academy training and rode with LA cops. Despite her success she comes across in interviews as friendly, normal, and happily resistant to Hollywood elitism.
Emilia Cruz has that same combination of toughness, emotional vulnerability, and frankness.
Quote: On being a producer and creator: It takes you away from that whiny, “Why aren’t there any roles for me?” place to “I’m going to create a path that feels right to me.” (Jezebel magazine, 11 Feb 2010)
Justice Sonia Sotomayor
Known For: First Hispanic judge on the US Supreme Court. Author of memoir, My Beloved World.
Qualities That Matter: Justice Sotomayor doesn’t give up when the going gets tough, as she’s described in interviews about her college experience. Not only was she very much a minority at Princeton, but she struggled with college-level writing skills in English, her second language. She attacked the problem directly, asking professors what was wrong with her papers and taking classes with professors who could help—even if they were tough teachers. An admittedly stubborn person, in an interview she recently said that she has a “personal need to persevere, to fight the fight. And if you just try and be stubborn about trying you can do what you set your mind to.” (Interview with Scott Pelley, CBS News, 13 Jan 2013)
Emilia Cruz has to be tough in the same way. If she backs down, she won’t achieve her goals. Or respect herself. But it means she’s often in opposition to powerful forces in Mexico: corruption, cartels, and a culture of machismo.
Quote: Don’t ever stop dreaming, don’t ever stop trying, there’s courage in trying. (Bronx Children’s Museum gala, quoted by CBS News, 11 Jan 2013))