Isabel Torres, the Spanish actor known for portraying the transgender icon Cristina “La Veneno” Ortiz on HBO’s “Veneno,” died Friday, according to a post originally written in Spanish on her official Instagram. She was 52.
“Although her family and friends feel her loss deeply, we know that wherever she goes, she will have fun as only she knows how,” the post reads in English. “Thank you for all the messages of affection and concern. She has left feeling very loved and supported.”
Torres rose to fame in 2020 as the oldest of three actors in the title role on the Spanish TV show “Veneno,” which was also released on HBO Max. Shortly after the show premiered, Torres announced on her Instagram that she was battling lung cancer, according to Spanish media reports.
The actor was born on July 14, 1969 in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain. She made history in 1996 as the first trans person in the Canary Islands to legally change her name and gender. In 2005, she was also the first trans woman to be a candidate for the title of Las Palmas Carnival Queen, according to Spanish media reports.
Torres portrayed La Veneno, a pop culture superstar in Spain in the ‘90s, in the final years of her life before she died in 2016, also at the age of 52. Javier Calvo, a co-writer and creator of the series, shared his condolences on Instagram.
“I love you, I respect you, I admire you and I will miss you so much,” he wrote in Spanish. “Thank you for everything you have given us. Your Pedro Marín, as you called me every morning of filming, feels privileged to have met you.”
Calvo, along with Javier Ambrossi, created the series with the intention of casting trans actors to portray Ortiz. Ambrossi told Variety in 2020 why it was important to feature trans talent such as Torres.
“If you want to create the stories about the LGBT community, you have to do it with LGBT people,” Ambrossi said at the time. “That’s important because these are our stories and no one can tell them like we can.”
Journalist Valeria Vegas, who wrote Ortiz’s biography in 2015 and was also portrayed as a character on the series, also voiced her love for Torres in an Instagram post Friday, paired with a photo of Torres smiling by a pool.
“This is how we will remember her — happy, smiling and a fighter,” Vegas wrote in Spanish. “She proved herself to be a wonderful actress, whose effort, talent and vitality will always be remembered.”