Rita Moreno in "West Side Story." (United Artists)

Rita Moreno in “West Side Story.” (United Artists)

Every Tuesday through Oct. 15, the Take 2 blog will feature posts celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. Read all entries in this series here. This week’s installment looks at several actors and the scenes made them famous.

There are times when an actor’s performance makes a big impression, especially if that actor has been at most a background player. Unfortunately, Hollywood has a long history of marginalizing Hispanic actors, limiting them to one-dimensional roles and not demonstrating the richest of their culture. Luckily, there have been times when the actor, no matter how small their role is, who rises above what the script offers.

In honor of their efforts, here are profiles with scenes from their performances.

Rita Moreno – “West Side Story” (1961)

Moreno’ Anita is full of personality and spirit in the Jerome Robbins/Robert Wise-directed musical. The Puerto Rican actress/performer sang the song “America” in the film but did not provide the vocals for the duet “A Boy Like That” (that was performed by ghost singer Betty Wand. Moreno went on to become the first Latina to win an Oscar and is one of 12 people with an EGOT – an Emmy, a Grammy an Oscar and a Tony.

Sammy Davis Jr. – “Sweet Charity” (1969)

Davis had been a member of the Rat Pack for 10 years by the time he appeared without Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra in “Sweet Charity. The singer/actor, whose father was African American and mother had Afro-Cuban roots, had a scene in the Bob Fosse movie that contrasted the Las Vegas style for which he was famous. One never imagined him as a hippie on the big screen.

Luis Guzmán – “Traffic” (2000)

Guzmán has worked steadily in film and television for more than 30 years and currently be seen on CBS in “Code Black” and “Narcos” on Netflix. He is a favorite of directors Paul Thomas Anderson and Steven Soderbergh. His role as federal agent Ray Castro in “Traffic” push his profile higher. Castro is the film’s most-needed source of comic relief in Don Cheadle’s arc.

Gael García Bernal – “The Motorcyle Diaries” (2004)

It’s unfair to strike out García Bernal’s roles before he played Ernesto “Che” Guevara de la Serna in the Walter Salles drama. Among them were “Amores Perros,” “Dot the I,” “Don’t Tempt Me” and “Y Tu Mamá También.” His turn as the revolutionary before Che became an icon on a T-shirt is a collage of Guevara’s ideals, mannerisms and charisma.

Clifton Collins Jr. – “Capote” (2005)

Despite “Capote” being Philip Seymour Hoffman’s vehicle, Collins shines as condemned killer Perry Smith in the biopic. Capote uses their conversations as part of his book “In Cold Blood,” but Smith finds a friend who later betrays him. The easy route would have been to have Hoffman dwarf Collins in their scenes, but Collins also stands out in the jailhouse scene. (WARNING: The video clip depicts violent acts. Proceed with caution).

Zoe Saldana – “Colombiana” (2011)

Saldana’s true starring turn was in Jame Cameron’s “Avatar,” but there was so much computer-generated gadgetry and blue tones to show who she is. “Colombiana” was a great vehicle to show Saldana as an action star. In a genre that is male-dominated and features little space for Latinas outside of the stereotypical sexpot or girlfriend, Saldana breaks the mold.

Demian Bichir – “A Better Life” (2011)

No actor has probably seen their career turn around as dramatically in the last four years than Bichir. Before his Oscar nomination for his role in “A Better Life,” Bichir appeared in television roles in his native Mexico and played Fidel Castro in Soderbergh’s “Che: Part 1.” Afterwards, he starred in the FX series “The Bridge” and appeared in Oliver Stone’s “Savages” and Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming release, “The Hateful Eight.”