Longtime actor Lupe Ontiveros has died

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Mexican-American actor Lupe Ontiveros died Thursday in Los Angeles after a decades-long career in theater, television and film.

In more than 100 TV and film roles, Lupe Ontiveros played the maid with a heavy accent. Three years ago, she told NPR that she accepted those roles because she couldn’t shake the passion to act.

"I long to play a judge," she said at the time. "I long to play a lesbian woman, I long to play a councilman, somebody with chutzpah."

Her career highlights include the 1983 film “El Norte,” about the epic journey of two illegal immigrants from Central America. Ontiveros also appeared in the 1997 film “Selena” opposite Jennifer Lopez, “Real Women Have Curves” in 2000 with America Ferrera and recurring roles in TV’s “Desperate Housewives.”

She was a social worker in LA for years before she became an actor. Longtime friend Evelina Fernandez shared the stage with Ontiveros, and was at her side when she died, with other close friends.

It’s just incredible to see how many people loved her, from the most famous actors and actresses to the humblest of people.

Lupe Ontiveros died of complications from cancer. She was 69 years old. Fernandez says The Latino Theater Company she helped to establish 27 years ago plans a celebration of her life on August 11th at downtown’s L.A. Theater Center.

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