If you watched the Super Bowl last Sunday, chances are you saw ads of all kinds. Funny, creative, inspirational… the big highlight of the Big Game is always the commercials. For Angie Palacios, however, the 2024 Super Bowl was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

After years of chasing her dream of a career in the entertainment industry, this Afro-Latina finally made it to the screen of millions in the Cricket Wireless commercial last Sunday.

In the 15-second spot, which was entirely in Spanish, the audience could see Angie dancing salsa with her girls. It was one of the few ad spots with Afro-Latino representation in the history of the Big Game.

“To be represented and visible on a platform as big as the Super Bowl is a big deal,” Angie Palacios told FIERCE. “I’m glad Cricket thought outside the stereotypical Latina box and chose my little family to showcase. It’s long overdue. I’m so happy and honored to be seen in a commercial speaking Spanish and salsa dancing with my curly-haired girls… I could cry. It’s a dream come true.”

A single mother’s inspiring journey

Angie Palacios is a dancer, actress, and singer. This triple threat was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, and raised in Queens. She describes herself as “an Afro-Latina chasing my dreams.” Although her goal is to get her career in the entertainment industry off the ground, Angie says her most special role is to be a mom.

Like many other Latinas, Angie Palacios succumbed to the pressure of “el qué dirán” and worked for 10 years in the hospitality industry to provide for her daughters. Her dreams, meanwhile, were on the back burner.

“It was a vocation that never left me,” she recalls. “Even in my darkest moments of ‘giving up’ and thinking I couldn’t try to pursue my dreams.”

Angie says she kept working as an event manager for fine dining restaurants in Manhattan because she thought she needed a “steady job” and a steady paycheck to provide a living for her family as a single mother.

“Being an actress and dancer is not what a ‘mom’ does: you have to be realistic and provide. But the performing arts were my first love,” she said.

Little did Angie Palacios know that inner strength would one day lead her to appear at an event like the Super Bowl.

Image used with permission from Angie Palacios.

Dancing your way toward your dreams

From school plays to talent contests, dance competitions, and salsa shows, Angie Palacios always loved the performing arts. Also, being Colombian, she can’t remember a time when she wasn’t dancing.

But as is often the case in life, the most difficult moments are the ones that bring us back to the path we were always destined to walk.

With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, Angie Palacios lost her job in hospitality. Angie felt unsettled as the world and life seemed to come to a screeching halt. But it was an opportunity to reevaluate herself.

“I felt that pull from the universe to turn my career around. It was a big risk,” she recalls. “It was scary, but I decided to return to my original passion and pursue a career in the industry. The risk was worth it, and three years later, I’m now in a Super Bowl commercial through Cricket Wireless!”

Image used with permission from Angie Palacios.

A unique opportunity

When Angie Palacios initially submitted for the Cricket Wireless ad, all she knew was that they were looking for “Cricket customers.” Though brief, that description fits her like a glove.

“I thought, ‘Okay, that’s me. I’m a real client,'” she said of her decision to throw her hat in the ring. After three calls, a Zoom meeting, and an international call with a director from England and executives from Spain, she landed the role. Better yet, her daughters would be with her in the commercial.

The salsa touch, well, it was completely natural.

During one of the calls, the executives asked Angie what she did in her spare time or on weekends. She told them she has a habit of going up on the roof with a speakerphone and teaches her daughters how to dance salsa. 

“They said, ‘Really?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, it’s actually a pretty typical way to relax after a week of school,'” she told FIERCE. “I try to instill my Colombian roots in my daughters by getting them familiar with the music I grew up with, our roots, and our culture.”

Angie sent the Cricket team some of the videos she had made with her daughters on the rooftop during the summer with music by Grupo Niche and Joe Arroyo — Colombian salsa super classics.

“My children are now familiar with those songs and artists because of the time we spent dancing and singing together, and they are proud to be Colombian,” she said. “I think it’s important for a child growing up in the U.S. to know their roots and be familiar with the food, music, and culture of their place of origin.”

Ultimately, the Cricket team loved the videos and ended up using them as the treatment for the ad.

“So it all came about organically! I had no idea the ad would look so much like my real life,” added Angie.

Image used with permission from Angie Palacios.

The importance of Afro-Latina representation, in and out of the Super Bowl

Even though the Super Bowl commercial has radically changed Angie Palacios’ life, the actress and dancer knows that being Afro-Latina in the industry is “a little complicated.”

“I’m a proud Colombian Latina, but I usually can’t book roles for Latinas. They usually go to actresses with a lighter complexion and straight hair — like an Eva Longoria, JLo, Sofia Vergara-type Latina,” she admitted about what she learned by “trial and error.”

“When someone asks me where I’m from and I say Colombia, I still get a puzzled look — like, ‘But don’t you look Colombian? Are you sure you’re not mestiza?’ And I know exactly what they mean,” Angie explained. “I don’t have light skin. So I’m very proud that Cricket Wireless chose me and my daughters to proudly show that Latinas come in all shapes, colors, sizes, and curl patterns!”

In addition, for Angie Palacios, it is “absolutely essential” that Afro-Latinas are highlighted in the media.

When she moved to the United States, she spoke no English. As she says, she had to “assimilate” and longed for representation growing up “as an immigrant who only watched Latino media at home.”

“Only Univision was on, and in all the popular novelas, I never saw a leading lady with my complexion: more brunette and with natural hair. Never! Usually, actors with my skin color were ‘the help’ in popular Latino movies or novelas,” she recalls. “Even on shows like Sábado Gigante. I looked everywhere for someone who looked like me.”

For Angie, seeing someone who looked like her doing what she loves “would have been transcendental, inspiring, life-changing.”

“I probably would have learned all about them and hung up their poster. They would have been my heroes,” she added.

“When you see yourself represented, you have confirmation that your dreams can come true,” she concluded.