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Viva Mi Gente!: 12 Latino Celebrities and Characters Who Thrust HIV/AIDS Into Popular Culture

May 15, 2013

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Angel Dumott Schunard and Mimi Marquez

Angel Dumott Schunard and Mimi Marquez

Rent made history for several reasons. A musical about a group of people living in New York's Lower East Side in the days of bohemian Alphabet City against the backdrop of HIV/AIDS and poverty, it went on to win the Pulitzer Prize (a rarity for a musical). It also won the Tony Award for Best Musical, and Wilson Jermaine Heredia won a Tony for his performance as Angel Dumott Schunard, the HIV-positive Latina drag queen character.

The show features many HIV-positive characters, chief among them its two Latino characters -- Mimi Marquez and Angel Dumott Schunard. Angel's romance with the character Tom Collins begins when Angel finds him beaten on the street on Christmas Eve. Angel is often considered the heart and soul of the show -- he is the only character to die in the play, and his funeral serves as a major plot point for the characters.

Mimi Marquez is the lead female of the show. She is an exotic dancer at a club called the Cat Scratch. Mimi spends most of the show going in and out of a relationship with Roger Davis, who lives in her building and is also HIV positive. The ending of the show finds Mimi on the brink of death, but she ultimately does not succumb and is reunited with Roger. Mimi has been portrayed most notably by veteran actress Daphne Rubin-Vega and, in the film version, by Rosario Dawson.





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