Controversy has erupted among members of the Latino controversy following the omission of Lupe Ontiveros from this year’s Oscars tribute to deceased members of the entertainment community. (Photo/Getty Images)

“Selena” star Lupe Ontiveros, dead at 69, began acting as a maid and became so much more

Mexican-American actress, producer and activist Lupe Ontiveros, best known for her role as a convicted murderer in “Selena,” died on Thursday night. The actress was 69 years old.

The Examiner reports Ontiveros was suffering from liver cancer, but that her death was unexpected.

Most recently, Ontiveros was to be honored on August 11 at the Sixth Annual Los Angeles Theatre Gala for her longtime advocacy efforts focused on women and education.  In 2010, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Association of Latino Independent Producers.

For her first role, Ontiveros was cast as Dolores in “Zoot Suit,” a historic play by Luis Valdez that would later become the first Mexican American theater production to play on Broadway.

Selena’s husband opens up in new book “To Selena, With Love”

A native of El Paso, Texas, Ontiveros was the daughter of Mexican immigrant restaurateurs who owned two restaurants and a tortilla factory, according to the New York Times.

In 2002, Ontiveros told the paper she estimated to have played the role of maid at least 150 times, and what she yearned for the most was to help change the way Latinos were viewed.

“When I go in there and speak perfect English, I don’t get the part,” Ontiveros said. “It’s their continued perspective of who we are. They don’t know we’re very much a part of this country and that we make up every part of this country.”

Ontiveros’ paved the way for actresses such as Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lopez and Sofia Vergara, and helped evolve the roles Latinas portray. While she was a maid so many times in her career, Ontiveros played a memorable role in Selena as Yolanda Saldívar, a role as a mother in Desperate Housewives and as a grandmother in CBS Fall sitcom, Rob.

Fellow “Selena” co-star, Jacob Vargas, who played Selena’s brother in the film, was by Ontiveros’ side at the time of her death. Vargas tweeted the news last night.

%d bloggers like this: