An ALMA Year-in-review
By Jessica A. Mayorga
2012 was undoubtedly an amazing year for Latinos in American entertainment. While we’ve suffered losses like our beloved Lupe Ontiveros and international musical sensation Jenni Rivera, we’ve seen their work remembered by diverse communities throughout the nation.
We’re proud of the efforts of our ALMA alumni who’ve starred in feature films, sold out major concert venues and topped the charts with fresh new sounds that bring Latino flavors to popular music. We’ve seen ALMA awardee Romeo Santos’ Formula Vol. 1 become the top selling album on the Latino format while the film End of Watch featured Michael Peña in a co-lead role.
2.7 million of you tuned in on September 21st to watch the 2012 NCLR ALMA Awards on NBC. You contributed to millions of impressions on Facebook and Twitter talking about your favorite ALMA moments, how surprised you were to learn that Ryan Lochte is of Cuban heritage and telling us how much you loved Eva’s 11 dresses. The wide variety of talent that presented, performed and accepted awards on this year’s show reflects the impact of Latinos in every aspect of American entertainment. But, this is only the beginning.
In coming weeks, we’ll unveil an upgraded ALMA website providing you more opportunities to interact and be a part of our regular conversations around the importance of promoting diversity on screen and on the airwaves. 2013 will deliver new contests, prizes and trivia. ALMA is about you, what you listen to and what you watch and how we ensure that Latino entertainers have the opportunity to provide positive portrayals of our community to all audiences. So we want to hear from you. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, this ALMA blog and by email. Tell us what you want to know more about in the space of Latinos in entertainment, and ask us questions that we are happy to answer through our regular blog posts. In 2013, we’ll provide you, fans and followers, the chance to submit your own blogs that might just appear on the ALMA site. We grow more innovative and more expansive with your input so don’t hold back!
So, as we welcome a new year, we want to know, what is your 2013 ALMA-resolution? What do you want to know more about? Who do you want to see or hear? What are most looking forward to in Latino-American entertainment and what are you expecting from your favorite ALMA stars? Click here to submit your entry and become eligible to win a prize straight from the ALMA Celebrity Gift Lounge.
On our end, we are hoping for an increase in the number of Latinos on the big screen and small screen playing powerful and positive roles and we are looking forward to a great soundtrack for the year to be made up not only of our good friends like Pitbull, Naya Rivera, Shakira and Christina Aguilera but also newcomers and rising stars. And finally, we look forward to connecting you to what our community’s talent are doing and how they are contributing to a new mosaic in American entertainment.
By Stephanie Pollick
Finding the perfect gift can be tricky, so with the holidays right around the corner, we’ve put together the first ever ALMA Holiday Gift Guide!
Whether you give the gift of music or movies, this season is certainly not lacking in ALMA talent to bring in the holiday cheer. Bruno Mars’ new album just dropped and it’s the perfect gift for anyone looking to spice up their music collection. With inspiration from a variety of genres, including pop, soul, and reggae, we’re pretty sure Unorthodox Jukebox will be a crowd pleaser. Another album for anyone with eclectic musical tastes is Viva Duets, in which Tony Bennett has teamed up with top Latino talent from Christina Aguilera to Marc Anthony.
Get your friends up on their feet with the Step Up: Revolution DVD featuring Latina Magazine’s Sexiest Latino Man Alive, Ryan Guzman. Is your sister having a new baby? Get her prepared with this comedic take on the popular book What to Expect When You’re Expecting, which led to 2012 ALMA nominations for Rodrigo Santoro and Jennifer Lopez. For the history buff on your shopping list, get the movie that led to 2012 ALMA nominations for Eva Longoria, Andy Garcia, Rubén Blades, and Oscar Isaac in For Greater Glory, which recounts the Cristeros War in Mexico. And don’t forget Girl in Progress, the winner of the 2012 ALMA Awards Favorite Movie, starring Eva Mendes and Cierra Ramirez.
Make sure to spend some quality time with your loved ones this holiday season and take them out to the movies to see their favorite ALMA stars on the big screen. Take your thrill-seeking friend to see Eva Longoria and Andy Garcia pair up again in A Dark Truth hitting theaters on January 4 or Gangster Squad with Michael Peña out on January 11. Don’t miss the much-anticipated prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy with The Hobbit, co-written by Guillermo del Toro.
Lastly, because this is the season of giving, we want to give a special shout out to ALMA star Jennifer Lopez for her call for donations through her “Biggest Gift Ever.”
So without further ado, the nominees for best gifts are…
Best Album Gift:
*Bruno Mars: Unorthodox Jukebox
*Pitbull: Global Warming
*Christina Aguilera: Lotus
*Romeo Santos: Sold Out at Madison Square Garden
*Tony Bennett: Viva Duets, (featuring Chayanne, Thalía, Christina Aguilera, Marc Anthony, Dani Martín, Franco De Vita, Gloria Estefan, Juan Luis Guerra, Vicentico, Ricardo Arjona, Romeo Santos, and Vicente Fernández).
Best DVD Gift:
*Girl in Progress (Comedy, Drama) Starring Eva Mendes and Cierra Ramirez
*What to Expect When You’re Expecting (Comedy, Drama, Romance) Starring Rodrigo Santoro, Jennifer Lopez, and Cameron Diaz
*For Greater Glory (Drama, History, War) Starring Andy Garcia, Eva Longoria, Rubén Blades, and Oscar Isaac
*Savages (Crime, Drama, Thriller) Starring Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, and Demián Bichir
*A Little Bit of Heaven (Comedy, Drama, Fantasy Starring Gael Garcia Bernal
*Step Up: Revolution (Drama, Music, Romance) Starring Ryan Guzman
*Fire With Fire (Action, Crime, Drama) Starring: Rosario Dawson
Best Movie in Theaters:
*The Hobbit (Adventure, Fantasy) In theaters now, screenplay co-written by Guillermo del Toro
*A Dark Truth (Action, Thriller) In theaters January 4, starring Andy Garcia and Eva Longoria
*Gangster Squad (Action, Crime, Drama) In theaters January 11, starring Michael Peña
*Zero Dark Thirty (Action, Drama, History) In select theaters December 19, all theaters January 11, starring Edgar Ramirez
*Parker (Crime, Thriller) In theaters January 25, starring Jennifer Lopez
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Jenni Rivera and the other victims of yesterday’s tragedy. The loss of her powerful voice in the international music scene will be greatly felt and she will be fondly remembered for her incredible contributions to the music industry.Learn more about Jenni’s legacy through articles by some of our partners below:
By Daisy Diaz
The beautiful thing about Latinos is that we come in all shapes, sizes, skin tones, and backgrounds. Being Latino means that you can be anything from fair skinned with blonde hair and green eyes with European ties, to tan with luscious curly hair and Afro-Caribbean ancestry, or a wonderful mix of it all. Regardless of our appearances, what unifies us is that we share a rich heritage that we should be proud of and educate others about. November is a time for us to not only reflect and give thanks but also to celebrate and pay tribute to the traditions of those who have truly shaped our cultural heritage with their contributions, which includes Native Americans.
And with November being Native American Heritage Month, we dedicate this blog post to our hermanos and hermanas of Native American ancestry, some of whom you may not know fit this description. George Lopez, 2012 ALMA Awards co-host who is Mexican-American, did some digging on his background and learned that he is part Native American. This year’s ALMA Award winner for Favorite TV Actor in a Leading Role, Tyler Posey, is also Mexican and part Native American, as well as Irish, Scottish, and English. Q’orianka Kilcher, 2006 ALMA winner for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture for her role in The New World, is part Quechua-Huachipaeri from Peru and of Swiss descent. At age 14, she played Pocahontas in The New World, and just a few years later went on to play the title role in Princess Kaiulani, a film about the overthrowing of the Kingdom of Hawai’i and the struggle of the people native to the islands. Kilcher has taken further steps to educate others by advocating for the rights of Native Americans by serving as a speaker at the United Nations on the panel for Indigenous Rights.
George Lopez, Tyler Posey, and Q’orianka Kilcher have each explored their ancestry: what have you discovered about your own heritage? Tell us here. We’ll read all of the entries and select one winner to receive items straight from the ALMA Celebrity Gift Lounge!
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Michael Pena’s Academy Award Performance
The Coolist Chick Flick
By Bel Hernandez
End of Watch delivers as an action cop drama to the tune of $13 million dollars and the #1 spot at the box office. The latest David Ayer (Training Day, Street Kings) film takes you on a rollercoaster ride of killings, drug deals, crack heads, human trafficking, and sadistic criminals. But it is the emotional ride that I enjoyed the most, making it officially my favorite Chick Flick in too many years.
Yes, End of Watch is a chick flick in all the sense of the word. Are you kidding me? The gorgeous leading men Michael Pena (Officer Mike Zavala) and Jake Gyllenhaal (Officer Brian Taylor) are enough to get the female fans into the theater. Although you will get all the macho heroics in this film, you will also get a story about friendship. You get to know these officers personally as they ride around South Central LA talking about everything from dating, marriage, kids, quinceneras, and their personal fears. It’s “Guy Talk”. And it makes you care, and root for them, and cry with them. Chick Flick — right?
“I wanted to capture the story of guys that go out there, work hard, do their job, and are fundamentally good people,” said director Ayer. “It’s the reality of it. It’s how cops connect to each other. So this is really about being let into a secret world.” As for the female audience Ayer says, “This film tested very high among women audiences.”
Two characters constantly present throughout the film even when they are not on screen are the women in these officer’s lives; Janet (Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air, The Twilight Films) is Officer Taylor’s new girlfriend and Gabby (Natalie Martinez, Death Race, Detroit 1-8-7) Zavala’s wife of three years.
In their squad car talks, Zavala, who’s been with the same woman since high school, begins to school Taylor on love in a very brotherly fashion. He wants to see his brother happy and loved as he is with his Gabby.
“I always saw Gabby as really strong—she clearly has a deep love for him, but wears the pants in the house. I love the idea that here is this tough street cop, and he’s running around shooting bad guys and hopping fences, and he goes home and he’s like, ‘Yes, dear.’ Could Ayer, who is married to a Latina, be writing from experience?
But the biggest revelation in End of Watch is Michael Pena’s Oscar worthy performance. It is the culmination of a career of excellent work in a variety of roles. He’s played a hero (The Twin Towers); Mexican American icon (Walkout); a locksmith (Crash) and an inmate (Lincoln Lawyer).
There is talk in the industry about Pena breaking out of playing supporting roles. I say he already has with End of Watch. This is his film. He is the heart of End of Watch — in the end he is my Chick Flick hero.
Cast: Michael Pena, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anna Kendrick, Natalie Martinez, America Ferrera, Cody Horn, Frank Grillo, David Harbour
Director-screenwriter: David Ayer
Producers: David Ayer, John Lesher, Nigel Sinclair, Matt Jackson
Executive producers: Randall Emmett, Stepan Martirosyan, Remington Chase, Adam Kassan, Chrisann Verges, Guy East, Tobin Armbrust, Jake Gyllenhaal
Director of photography: Roman Vasyanov
Production companies: Exclusive Media, Le Grisbi, Crave Films
Distributor: Open Road Films
Posted May 28, 2012 by Stephanie Pollick
We were all glued to our television sets last Wednesday night as the winner of this season’s American Idol was announced. Jessica Sanchez made it to the top two contestants and performed beautifully throughout the season, but alas, she was not crowned America’s Idol. In a recent interview, Jessica said that she will always stay grounded and remember where she comes from. So just where does this 16-year-old come from? Raised in Chula Vista, California by her Mexican-American father and Filipina mother, Jessica has been fully embraced by both communities, receiving warm welcomes to her hometown by both Filipino and Hispanic supporters who flocked to the local football stadium to give her the warm welcome she deserved when she visited home a few weeks ago, as all top three Idol contestants do each year. It’s great to see the two communities come together to embrace a rising star.
Jessica captivated the nation with her singing and we hope that her career is only just beginning. But she isn’t the first Hispanic-Filipino artist to get our attention. In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we would like to give a special shout-out to a couple of our favorite Latino celebrities who also share Asian roots.
2011 ALMA nominee Enrique Iglesias and singer Bruno Mars both have music in their blood. Enrique was raised by his Filipina mother and Spanish father who introduced us to the Iglesias name long before Enrique himself graced the stage. Everyone is well aware of his Spanish background, but his Filipino side is often a surprise to those who know him as a Hispanic singer. This could be because he was raised away from his mother for much of his life, but he does recall fond memories of the food that his mother used to make as well as the importance she placed on family—a core value of both Latino and Asian cultures.
Bruno was born in Hawaii to a Puerto Rican musician father and Filipina hula dancing mother. He grew up surrounded by music and has been performing since he was a toddler. Latino and Filipino fans embrace Bruno as one of their own and he is highlighted in both Latino and Filipino publications. At a concert in Manila on his first visit to the Philippines, Bruno announced to the crowd of 10,000, “I am Filipino!” and promised to go back.
By embracing the different sides of their ancestry, these stars are bringing communities together. It is important to embrace diversity not only within the general United States population, but within each community as well. Diversity strengthens our communities and helps us gain broader perspectives. Who is your favorite bicultural Latino star?
Posted May 23, 2012 by Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO
Last week, the Census Bureau released updated population numbers affirming once again that Latinos are America’s largest and fastest-growing minority. There are now 52 million of us residing in the U.S.—nearly one in five Americans. Perhaps the most striking statistic is that more than half of babies born in the U.S. are “minorities,” and minority children make up half of all children under the age of five—the American future in a nutshell.
If these figures surprise you, you probably watch a lot of prime-time network television. The shows that most Americans watch at night are a serious contrast to our schools, our neighborhoods, and our communities—devoid of a significant minority presence, especially when it comes to Latinos. And the fall TV schedule unveiled this week in New York by the four major networks does little to change that monochromatic landscape, and perhaps will make it even worse.
Gone are programs like CSI: Miami, Desperate Housewives, and Rob, all of which had lead Latino characters. In fact, not one of the new shows picked up by the networks features a lead or strong secondary Hispanic character.
How bad is it? When NCLR put out its landmark series of reports on Latinos on television two decades ago, we quoted writer-director Jesus Treviño’s quip that you were more likely to find someone from outer space than a Latino on television. Well, 20 years later, there will be no Latino family starring on a prime-time network television this September, but there will be a family of space aliens.
We know of at least three programs starring Hispanics that were developed by the networks, meaning the scripts were shot and considered for the schedule. Unfortunately, not one of these shows, even with high-profile producers and actors attached, were placed on the network prime-time schedule.
There’s a lot of talk by the networks about reaching out to the Latino audience, but little action. Networks need to be brave enough to pick up shows with Latinos in starring roles. Learn from what works and what doesn’t work, then try again until you succeed. Isn’t that how all successful ventures work? With the majority of American Latinos watching most of their television on English-language outlets, this is not only the brave but also the smart thing to do.
To those who say it doesn’t matter that Latinos aren’t on sitcoms or soapy dramas, we say it does matter. It matters a lot. Just last week, Vice President Joe Biden cited the effect of Will and Grace on people’s view of the LGBT community. Studies have shown that the single most important factor for someone supporting same sex marriage is knowing someone who is gay, including a character on a television show like Modern Family. In other words, when a gay person stops being the “other,” the misconceptions and the barriers fall.
There is perhaps no group seen or treated more as the “other” in today’s America than the Hispanic community. Yet in today’s society, Latinos are everywhere—your librarian, server, investment banker, bus driver, university president, art school teacher, theater manager, doctor, state senator, interior designer, U.S. Secretary of Labor, neighbor, and more.
Yes, we need a change in political rhetoric: a restoration of light vs. heat in news coverage, and more courageous elected officials denouncing scapegoating and demonizing. But Latinos also need to see their reality, America’s reality, reflected on a medium that unites us all—television entertainment.
When Latinos are more than just a blip on the screen, our fellow Americans will learn that we want and value the same things—our family, our faith, our work, and our country. And maybe we will at long last stop being America’s “other.”