With Peabody Award, Rita Moreno is first Latina to attain unique ‘PEGOT’ class
LinkedIn
Actress Rita Moreno poses for camera at a Hollywood event

By Nicole Acevedo

Rita Moreno’s alphabet of awards is gaining another letter. The Peabody Awards organization recently announced it will honor the Puerto Rican actress, singer and dancer with the career achievement award.

That means Moreno, 87, will become the third person to achieve PEGOT status by winning a Peabody, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award. Film director Mike Nichols and entertainer Barbra Streisand are the other two PEGOT winners.

“So proud to be the first Latino recipient,” Moreno said on Twitter. She is also the second person to ever receive the Peabody Career Achievement Award. The first recipient was legendary comedian Carol Burnett in 2018.

Moreno, who gained widespread fame in the film “West Side Story,” will be honored at the Peabody Awards annual gala in New York City on May 18.

“Rita Moreno is a unique talent who has not only broken barriers, but whose career continues to thrive six-plus decades after her acting debut,” Jeffrey P. Jones, executive director of Peabody Awards. “We are delighted to celebrate her many contributions to entertainment and media, as well as her passion for children’s programming and important social issues.”

Most recently, Moreno starred in three seasons of the popular Latino remake of Norman Lear’s classic sitcom, “One Day at a Time” on Netflix, which was nominated for a 2017 Peabody Award, She also signed on to be an executive producer in Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story — a film in which she is also co-starring.

Moreno has also received other prestigious awards, such as The Kennedy Center Honor for her lifetime contributions to American culture and the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.

She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush and the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama.

Continue on to NBC News to read the complete article.

Demi Lovato reveals in new YouTube doc that she had 3 strokes and a heart attack
LinkedIn
Close up of Demi Lovato with studio keyboard in the background

By Nardine Saad

Never one to shy away from the intimate details of her personal life, singer Demi Lovato is laying it on the table in a new documentary, “Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil.”

And like hotel heiress Paris Hilton and singer Justin Bieber before her, Lovato’s YouTube Originals release sees the “Barney & Friends” alum readily sharing what really happened when she was treated for a drug overdose in July 2018 and how it left her with brain damage.

“I’ve had so much to say over the past two years, wanting to set the record straight about what it was that happened,” she says in the trailer for the four-part documentary, which debuts March 23. The trailer dropped Wednesday during the virtual Television Critics Assn. press tour.

“FYI, I’m just going to say it all, and if we don’t want to use any of it, we can take it out,” the “Confident” singer adds. “Any time that you suppress a part of yourself, it’s gonna overflow.”

Lovato, 28, who has publicly struggled with her sobriety and physical and mental health, revealed in the trailer that she’d had three strokes and a heart attack. She said her doctors told her she had “five to 10 more minutes” to live when she was hospitalized for two weeks before entering an in-patient rehab facility.

She survived, of course, and told interviewers that, like her cat, she’d had a lot of lives and now she was on her “ninth life.”

In a video call Wednesday, Lovato told the Associated Press that she still was dealing with the effects: “I don’t drive a car because I have blind spots in my vision. For a long time, I had a really hard time reading. It was a big deal when I was able to read a book, which was, like, two months later, because my vision was so blurry.”

But her endurance is surprising to those around her.

Continue on to the LA Times to read the complete article.

Jake T. Austin—A Jake of All Trades
LinkedIn

By Sarah Mosqueda

If you are familiar with Jake T. Austin at all, you probably recognize him as sandwich-loving Max Russo on Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place.

As the family friendly wholesomeness of that role and subsequent roles suggests, Austin most certainly found a lane. But to say Austin is a “child actor” is a disservice to all the other things Austin is.

Austin is a voice actor, a television and film actor, and philanthropist who is dedicated to getting Latinos the representation they deserve in the entertainment industry and beyond.

If anything, he is a Jake of all trades.

“I started performing when I was really young,” Austin says. “I was in a skit when I was 4 years old…and it just so happened that skit was on The David Letterman Show.”

Austin was born Jake Austin Szymanski in New York to his Puerto Rican mother, Giny Rodriquez Toranzo, and his Polish/Irish father, Joe Szymanski.

Austin followed his debut on late-night television with a voice role of Diego on three episodes of Nickelodeon’s animated series, Dora the Explorer, which led to his breakthrough role of Diego on the subsequent spin-off series, Go Diego Go!

Austin was only 10 years old when he worked on the Go Diego Go! series, but the fact that he was playing a title character that was also a person of color isn’t lost on him.

“Thinking back to when the show premiered in 2005, conversations about race weren’t as pronounced in mainstream media like they are in 2021,” says Austin. “Now I understand that kids in the Hispanic community could see a person that ‘looked like them.’”

Austin says the visibility of a character like Diego is important for non-Spanish speaking viewers, too.

“To Anglo-European households, they could have their eyes opened

Ambassador Jake T. Austin poses with a patient at the Ronald McDonald House
NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 01: Actor/Youth Ambassador Jake T. Austin (R) visits the Ronald McDonald House on March 1, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Stewart/WireImage)

to other ethnic groups that may not be prevalent in their own schools or neighborhoods,” he says.

Diego was a bilingual character, and the show borrowed from the Dora format by sprinkling Spanish words into the English-language TV show.

“In 2018, studies estimated that 20–27 percent of the U.S. population were bilingual. So, think about 2005 and how unusual it must have seemed to have the hero be a person who spoke English and Spanish,” says Austin. “Diego was such a positive character: rescuing animals and talking about environmental issues. It’s humbling to have been an instrumental part of that show.”

The work the show was doing didn’t go unnoticed.

The series was commended for its bilingual Latino lead character and earned four NAACP Image Award nominations for “Outstanding Children’s Program” from 2008 to 2012.

Austin didn’t go unnoticed either.

He earned nominations for the Imagen Award and Young Artist Award for his role.

“It was such a great experience, and the show is still on the air on streaming platforms and people tell me how much they’ve learned from watching it,” he says.

He followed his success in voice work with a role on Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place, alongside a young Selena Gomez and David Henrie. The series, which followed three wizard siblings with magical powers, ran for four seasons and earned an Emmy in the category of “Outstanding Children’s Program” in 2009. When the show ended in 2012, an estimated 11.3 million viewers tuned in to watch the one-hour series finale, making it the most-watched finale for a Disney Channel Original Series.

Austin’s character, Max Russo, had a known Hispanic heritage and his mother (played by Maria Canals-Barrera) often tried to get the kids to learn about their Latino heritage.

Austin continued to juggle voice and acting work, and in 2009, he starred in the film, Hotel for Dogs opposite Emma Roberts. In 2011, Austin voiced Fernando, an orphaned Brazilian boy, in the animated feature films Rio and Rio 2 from 20th Century Fox. That same year, he was cast in the film New Year’s Eve, directed by rom-com veteran Garry Marshall. In 2017, Austin voiced the character of Alex in The Emoji Movie.

Balancing the two professions of actor and voice actor isn’t difficult for Austin. He sees both as forms of storytelling, which he takes very seriously.

Jake T. Austen poses with the cast of Wizards of Waverly Place
ANAHEIM, CA – SEPTEMBER 13: (L-R) The Executive Producers and the cast of “Wizards of Waverly Place” Executive Producer Peter Murrieta, actors David Henrie, Maria Canals-Barrera, Selena Gomez, Jennifer Stone, Jake T. Austin and Executive Producer Todd J. Greenwald attend the D23 Expo presented by the Walt Disney Studios at the Anaheim Convention Center on September 13, 2009 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by John M. Heller/Getty Images)

“Performing is an experience that, in some ways, is hard to articulate,” he says. “You’re taking words on a page and creating a walking, breathing character that the viewer experiences.”

And when he straddles the two occupations, Austin isn’t just working to establish himself as multifaceted. He is also hoping to help audiences see the Latino community as more than just one homogeneous group.

“I think the biggest stereotype about the Hispanic community would be the notion that we are a monolith,” says Austin. “People whose familial line is from Cuba are different than people with experiences from Peru, who is different from people in Argentina.”

Austin says pushing for more diversity in the storytelling we see in entertainment is critical.

“I’m a big believer in people sharing their stories and learning about other cultures, and the change I would like to see is more micro-communication of information about specific countries and regions, and not painting all Latinos with an overly broad and singular brush.”

And that can start with expanding the roles we see as “Latino characters.”

“I think about the movie New Years Eve,” he says, “I played the love interest of Abigail Breslin. She’s Caucasian and also a totally nice person and terrific actress. But the role I played wasn’t written as a ‘Latino’ boyfriend, per se.”

Just because a character isn’t defined as being a person of color doesn’t mean a person of color can’t play them.

“Across any realm, my message to the person in charge of casting in a movie, a hiring manager in an office or an authority figure in a medical building: Be conscious and go beyond your possible racial bias,” he says. “When there is a person in front of you, think about their skillset, enthusiasm and dedication. Freeing the candidate of the hiring person’s preconceived ethnic/racial assumptions would be the ultimate equalizer.”

During election season, many critics noted the way the Latino vote was courted by both parties, either by engaging with Latino voters as a stereotyped culture, or worse, not at all.

Austin worked to impart the importance of the Latino vote by working with Voto Latino, a grassroots political organization focused on educating and empowering young Latinx voters.

Jake T. Austen visits youth at the Boys and Girls Club wearing a mask
Jake T Austin discusses career/life planning with teens at the Boys & Girls Club. @MITCHDAO.PHOTOS

“Voting is a fundamental of our constitutional republic and people, especially young people, should learn about the issues and make their voice heard at the ballot box,” says Austin.

He chose to align with the non-partisan organization because of how they encourage Latinos to exercise their rights and promote election-related engagement, like volunteering at the polling place.

“Regardless of race, we are Americans. So I think it’s great that Voto Latino is increasing awareness about the importance and the process of voting.”

When it comes to philanthropy, Austin says it’s about deciding what you are passionate about and committing to being a part of the change you want to see.

“I encourage people to think about causes that are important to them and see how they can get involved,” he says.

As a young person himself, Austin says youth-based services are close to his heart.

“My Friend’s Place is a great organization in Hollywood whose

 Jake T. Austin poses with several actors at the Empire State Building
NEW YORK, NY – JULY 17: (L-R) Founder of World Emoji Day Jeremy Burge, Director Tony Leondis, Producer Michelle Raimo Kouyate, Actors Maya Rudolph, Patrick Stewart and Actor Jake T. Austin of The Emoji Movie celebrates the Empire State Building Lighting With Cast Of The Emoji Movie, Girls Who Code And Oath For Good For World Emoji Day at The Empire State Building on July 17, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Sony Pictures Entertainment )

mission is to end youth homelessness,” Austin says of the organization that serves 1,400 young people a year.

“I’ve also been active with the Boys & Girls Clubs, which operates over 4,000 clubs nationwide.”

At the start of the 20/21 school year, Austin paid a visit to the Boys and Girls Club Pasadena Slavik branch, which is located near Los Angeles.

“Many schools in Los Angeles County have been closed due to COVID and parents rely on those schools to provide child supervision while they’re at work,” Austin says. “BGC Pasadena has stepped up with a renovation to their facility that was funded by The Ahmanson Foundation, Helen and Will Webster Foundation, Pasadena Community Foundation, and Sahm Family Foundation.”

The updated Boys & Girls Club has structural improvements, computers for learning and homework assistance programs.

“COVID has disrupted many lives, and for kids, going to school is so central to learning and social interaction. It’s awesome that the Boys & Girls Clubs provides resources while we all get through this.”

Austin’s new film, Adverse, was pushed back from a September 2020 theater release to January 2021. Adverse will also be on Digital, On Demand and DVD on March 9.

Adverse is set in current day Los Angeles and tells the story of a rideshare gone wrong, and also stars Mickey Rourke, Lou Diamond Phillips and Sean Astin.

“It was great to work and learn from such experienced actors,” says Austin.

The film also addresses the effects of the opioid epidemic, another health crisis gripping America today.

“For me, the takeaway from the movie is that drug addiction affects the user and also their loved ones,” says Austin. “Prior to doing this movie, I didn’t especially think about the ripple effect that addiction has on the people around the addict. And with the opioids epidemic sweeping across the US, I think it’s the familial facet of that struggle that should be brought more into the light.”

Happy Birthday Shakira: Fans Pour In Warm Wishes As The ‘Queen’ Of Latin Music Turns 44
LinkedIn
Shakira close up, smiling, blond curly hair

Singer and songwriter Shakira ringed in her 44th birthday on February 2 and since morning her excited fans have been trending her name on Twitter.

Columbian singer and songwriter Shakira celebrated her 44th birthday on February 2 and since morning her excited fans have been trending her name on microblogging site Twitter. Scores of her fan and followers have been pouring in their love with beautiful messages and warm wishes. The three-time Grammy award winner has been one of the most popular singers worldwide and fans often call her “Queen” of Latin music.

Shakira shares birthday with boyfriend Piqué

Interestingly, Shakira and her boyfriend Gerard Piqué’s birthday fall on the same date. Sharing their love for the melody queen and her boyfriend, who is a legendary Spanish footballer, her fans were quick enough to share messages of love and respect on social media. One of the users shared her picture with her boyfriend Gerard Piqué and wrote, “And happiest birthday to Shakira.” Another user recalled one of her iconic shows that she conducted last year while extending his wishes.

Shakira receives love from fans

Sharing the memory on the special day, he wrote, “Wow ONE year ago she gave us one of the best half-time shows ever! You always will be our best gift, Shakira.” A third user chimed in and shared a gorgeous throwback picture of the Waka Waka singer from one of her vacay and wrote, “The most talented, artistic and creative person in the world Happy birthday Queen.” Another die-heart fan of the singer echoed similar sentiments and wrote, “Happy birthday to the most important person in my life!!!.@shakira.Thanks for being an inspiration, love, and an example that dreams are fulfilled with effort and perseverance!!.Thanks for teaching me love and keeping me sober!!. 44 years, many stories and a single Goddess.”

Read the full article at Republic World.

Lawmakers push to add ‘Selena’ to National Film Registry, boost Latino visibility in media
LinkedIn
Jennifer Lopez as Selena in musical drama film "Selena"
“Latinos have been left out of the representation of American culture,” says U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, who hopes the effort will correct their depiction.

Mexican American filmmaker Gregory Nava’s 1997 movie “Selena” has been nominated for inclusion in the National Film Registry by members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus as the group ramps up its efforts to eradicate “the film industry’s continued exclusion of Latinos,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, in a letter to Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden on Friday.

“Selena is an American icon and she’s so celebrated within the Latino community,” Castro, who is also the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, told NBC News. “I think part of the affirmation of that was, not only the success of the film but also the recent success of the television series.”

The film starring Jennifer Lopez depicts the life, remarkable rise, and tragic death of Tejano music legend Selena Quintanilla. The film also touches on important themes of cultural identity and assimilation faced by Mexican American communities as they navigate their personal connections between two cultures and languages.

“Given its importance as a work of Latino cinema, we believe it is deserving of preservation at the Library of Congress,” Castro’s letter to Hayden reads. “We trust you will give Selena careful consideration, and hope to see it included in the titles added to the National Film Registry in 2021.”

Read the full article at NBC News.

How Rita Moreno found dignity and strength in her ‘West Side Story’ role
LinkedIn
“Interestingly, the character of Anita became my role model after all those years,” said the Puerto-Rican actress and Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony recipient.

In the past decade or so, Rita Moreno has received multiple lifetime achievement awards and would probably receive even more — except that she’s too busy working.

The actress, who turns 89 on Dec. 11, is one of the few people to win an EGOT: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. She’s also received the 2004 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the 2009 National Medal of Arts, the 2013 SAG Life Achievement Award, Kennedy Center Honors in 2015, and a Peabody Career Achievement in 2019, to name a few.

                                                                                                                              (Image credit – Herbert Dorfma/NBC News)

But she has no intention of resting on her laurels. In “Rita Moreno: A Memoir,” she expresses frustration at not working more. “I still feel that way!” she told Variety shortly after the book came out in 2013. She is always busy; if it’s not film, “I do theater, I do television, concerts, I do talks, lectures I do a lot of fundraising as a performer.”

Her 70-year career covers the spectrum of entertainment, including radio, theater, basic-cable, movies (both under the studio system and in the indie world), and now streaming.

Read the full article at NBC News.

Bad Bunny made a major stride for Spanish-language music this week
LinkedIn

Bad Bunny made a major stride for Spanish-language music this week.

The Puerto Rican rapper’s newest album, El Ultimo Tour del Mundo, debuted atop the Billboard 200 albums chart. Not only does the feat mark Bad Bunny’s first number-one LP, but the album also breaks ground as the first all-Spanish-language album in the chart’s history to go No. 1.

According to Billboard, who broke the news Sunday (December 6), Bad Bunny’s newest offering pushed 116,000 equivalent album units in the United States in the week ending December 3. Not to mention, Bad Bunny’s other

Photo credit: The Guardian, Photograph: Stillz/Press

2020 effort, YHLQMDLG, which debuted and peaked at No. 2 on the charts earlier this year, set the bar as the highest-charting all-Spanish-language project with 179,000 units earned in its first week.

With his latest chart accomplish, Bad Bunny joins the shortlist of artists with an all-Spanish-language album to enter the top five, alongside Mana’s Amar es Combatir (No. 4 in September 2006) and Shakira’s Fijación Oral: Vol. 1 (No. 4 in June 2005). Overall, Bad Bunny has earned five top 10 albums on the Billboard 200 chart including Oasis (No. 9 in July 2019), YHLQMDLG (No. 2 in March 2020), Las Que No Iban a Salir (No. 7 in May 2020), and now, El Ultimo Tour del Mundo.

Bad Bunny’s number-one album achievement comes weeks after the superstar fell ill with coronavirus in late November. Weeks after, the 26-year-old shared an update on his health while appearing on The Late Late Show. “I feel great. Thank God,” the star said on the December 2 broadcast. “I tested negative and I’m so happy. I feel perfect.”

Read the full article at Real923.

Netflix’s ‘Selena: The Series’ celebrates her rise to stardom — and Mexican American life
LinkedIn
Selena: The Series

Selena’s musical journey brought her closer to her family’s Mexican roots, an “empowering” message for the younger generation, says actress Seidy Lopez, who plays Selena’s mother.

Even 25 years after her death, the life and musical legacy of the Grammy-winning Tejana singer Selena Quintanilla remains influential and relevant. A widely anticipated Netflix show “Selena: The Series,” which premieres Friday, seeks to amplify the life of the beloved Queen of Tejano, beyond just her musical journey.

Natalia Mantini for The New York Times

The new show is at its core a story about the Quintanillas, a tight-knit Mexican American family from South Texas striving for a better life while also overcoming the struggles Latinos face in the entertainment industry.

The first part of “Selena: The Series” is not only a celebration of the singer’s life, starting from her birth in Lake Jackson, Texas, in 1971 until the release of her second studio album, “Ven Conmigo” in 1990. It’s also a celebration of navigating life as a young American of Latino heritage.

“Selena didn’t know Spanish when she started singing. When she started performing in Mexico is when she realized that she had to go back to her roots and embrace the language, embrace the culture, understand more about who she was and where she came from,” said Seidy Lopez, a Mexico native who plays Marcella, Selena’s mother. “She explored that as she was growing as an artist, as she was growing as a woman. And I hope that this next generation gets to see that and that they bring it into their own experience because it’s very empowering.”

Read the full article at the NBC News

Free Zoom alternative: Microsoft Teams lets 300 users video chat for 24 hours
LinkedIn
Laptop webcam screen view multiethnic families contacting distantly by videoconference. Living abroad four diverse friends making video call enjoy communication, virtual interaction modern app concept

This year has been a huge year for Zoom, as families and friends around the world have turned to the video chat service to stay in touch during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Microsoft Teams just barreled into the room to make Zoom look a little silly by comparison.

According to The Verge, Microsoft’s primarily business-focused video call app is getting a free tier with a 24-hour time limit on calls just in time for the holidays.

As many as 300 people can jam into one room, with a gallery view that can display up to 49 of them on one screen. (Zoom has a max of 100 participants for Basic and Pro users.) There’s also a feature called Together Mode that will arrange everyone’s video feeds so it looks like they’re sitting together in a theater or coffee shop. If your family is that big, feel free to go nuts with Microsoft Teams — and good luck following the conversation.

Calls can be started and joined from a web browser so you don’t need to download an app. Whoever starts the call will need a Microsoft account, which you should have on hand if you’ve ever used Office or an Xbox but is pretty easy to set up if you haven’t. Crucially, folks who don’t have Microsoft accounts can join calls.

Continue on to Mashable to read the complete article.

Innovators to Watch
LinkedIn
Lin-Manuel Miranda and Luis Miranda Event

By Natalie Rogers 

This inspiring group of innovators is changing the Latinx community’s perspective, featuring plus-size model Ady Del Valle, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, WNBA Diana Taurasi, writer, actor, rapper, and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda and activist Luis Miranda, supreme court judge Sonia Sotomayor, fiction and non-fiction author Carmen Maria Machado.

 
 
 
Luis A. Miranda, Jr., left and Lin-Manuel Miranda at the
IMDb Studio at Acura Festival Village.
(Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Acura)

Lin-Manuel Miranda and Luis Miranda
Writer, actor, rapper, and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda has grown quite the platform since the success of his Broadway hit musical Hamilton. But even before the hip-hop musical’s success, Miranda has used his growing platform to advocate for causes that are important to him, from issues of racial equality to the need to vote, and has done so with his long-time activist father, Luis Miranda. Luis has been an integral part of Latino rights in the United States, working directly on Senate campaigns, serving as the Director of Hispanic Affairs in New York City, educating Latinx people on voting, and in his latest endeavor, providing direct relief to Puerto Rico after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. In honor of Luis’s dedication to activism, Lin and Luis have produced the HBO documentary, Siempre, Luis, which follows Luis Miranda’s life fighting for equality and preservation. The documentary aired on October 6, with the goal of using the Miranda family’s platform to educate more people and to raise awareness of Latinx issues.

Ady Del Valle and the Latinx Creative
The modeling and fashion industries have shaped the world’s perception of beauty for years, but the models displaying these beauty standards are often portraying only one body type, race, and sexuality. However, plus-size Latinx model Ady Del Valle decided it was time to share the voices that often aren’t heard. Through his organization, The Latinx Creative, Del Valle has showcased an array of Hispanic creatives and their work, including other plus-size models. Del Valle, in collaboration with other Latinx plus size models Frankie Tavares, Luis Cruz, Taylee De Castro, Yaznil Baez, and Kengie Smith, has been credited to sparking a “plus-size revolution” serving as a representation of beauty that defies the norm. De Valle further uses his platform for inclusivity to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and defying gender norms.

Ady Del Valle Event Makeup
Ady Del Valle at The Queerties Annual Award. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)

Alex Padilla
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has been a beacon of change throughout his entire political career. Padilla has been on government committees since he was just 26 years old and served as the first Latino and youngest president of the Los Angeles City Council at age 28. Working in the very community he was brought up in when his parents immigrated to the United States, Padilla has used his role on City Council and as the Chair of the Committee on Energy, Utilities, and Communications to advocate for the needs of the community. Under Padilla’s leadership, Los Angeles has received improved legislations on public and private educations, stopping crime rates, increasing budget, decreasing obesity and diabetes cases, better utilize technology, and much more. In Padilla’s new position as State Secretary, he has focused much of 2020 on properly handling COVID-19 health procedures and ensuring voting accessibility throughout the state of California.

Alex Padilla Suit
Alex Padilla, at Annual California Hall of Fame. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

Diana Taurasi
The recipient of countless WNBA awards, four Olympic gold medals, five scoring titles, three FIBA world cups, and numerous offers to play for the All-Star teams, Diana Taurasi is one of the biggest names in basketball in the modern age. Playing for the Phoenix Mercury since 2004, Taurasi has become the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer, often making the crucial last-minute plays that give Phoenix its victories. Despite suffering recent injuries, Taurasi has been using this year to better improve her game and the world around her. She worked diligently to honor Kobe Bryant after his passing in early March, is an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, and is back to playing at peak performance post-injury, giving her great consideration to be the WNBA’s MVP of the Year.

Diana Taurasi WNBA
Diana Taurasi, at Western Conference Finals against the Seattle Storm at Talking Stick Resort Arena. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Sonia Sotomayor
Even before she became the first Latina supreme court judge in 2009, Justice Sonia Sotomayor has always worked hard for her success. Being inspired by her single mother, who always emphasized the importance of receiving an education, Sotomayor attended Princeton University and Yale Law School, earning her J.D. and passing the bar exam by the age of 26. After working as a trial lawyer for a District Attorney and within her own practice, Sotomayor was appointed to the Southern District of New York at age 38, Bush the U.S. Second Circuit Court at age 43, and the Supreme Court at age 55. On the Supreme Court, Sotomayor has played an integral role in advocating for equal opportunity and civil liberties, helping pass the Affordable Health Care Act and the legalization of gay marriage. As of 2020, Sonia Sotomayor has been donating much of her time to advocating for immigrants, racial equality, and protection from COVID-19.

Sotomayor Awards
Sonia Sotomayor at the 29th Hispanic Heritage Awards at the Warner Theatre. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images)

Carmen Maria Machado
Carmen Maria Machado is a fiction and non-fiction author who uses a blend of genres to create stories that raise awareness of social issues in a Jordan Peele like fashion. Of the 20 plus stories she has written, Machado has received an especially high amount of success for her books, Her Body and Other Parties, an analogy on the dehumanization of the woman’s body, and In the Dream House, the heavily inspired true story of Machado’s abusive relationship. Her stories have earned her published spots in big-name titles such as The New York Times and The New Yorker, has received tremendous praise and an overwhelming number of awards, nominations, fellowships, grants, and residencies. Machado’s non-fiction works also contribute to enhancing conversation and bringing awareness as she often writes of personal experiences, Latinx culture, and women’s rights.

Carmen Maria Machado Book
Carmen Maria Machado at PEN Presents at Dynasty Typewriter. (Photo by Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for PEN America)
Eva Longoria Baston & America Ferrera Empower Latinas through ‘She Se Puede’
LinkedIn
Eva Longoria and America Ferrera

By Monica Luhar

“Sí se puede” is a powerful phrase that was coined by labor activist Dolores Huerta, who pushed for better working conditions and rights for farmworkers.

(It was also used as an empowering chant by a group of Latina cheerleaders in the Disney Channel Original Movie, Gotta Kick it Up! featuring award-winning actress America Ferrera).

Today, the phrase continues to serve as an empowering message for Latinas in the form of a new nonpartisan digital community platform known as “She Se Puede” (with a particular emphasis on the word, “she”).

She Se Puede—launched by actress-activists Eva Longoria Baston and America Ferrera, and a group of passionate Latina leaders—aims to empower Latinas “to realize and act on their own power.”

The platform gives Latinas an opportunity to celebrate their impact and achievements, connect with community resources, and be inspired by diverse lifestyle content highlighting Latinas.

“America and I worked with Dolores for decades and we just wanted to have her blessings because there’s such history in ‘Sí se puede,'” Eva told GMA.

“It was birthed from me and America and Zoe Saldana, and we were all campaigning in Florida, advocating for yet another candidate on a stage, giving talking points and we were going, ‘Why aren’t we advocating for ourselves? Where’s the community? And not only of Latinos, but specifically of Latinas,'” Eva said.

Too often, Latinas are underrepresented in entertainment, government, and other aspects of society. Their voices are often excluded from the narrative, which is why the idea for “She Se Puede” came into conception to embolden and inspire Latinas to trust in their power.

“Unless and until we believe in our own potential and realize our own power, we will remain underrepresented as a political and cultural force,” said America Ferrera.

The goal for “She Se Puede” is to build a unique digital community and lifestyle platform “for Latinas, by Latinas” by publishing relatable and inspiring, everyday lifestyle content ranging from health, food parenting, beauty, to civic engagement. It’s also an opportunity to help provide Latinas with the tools they need to own their power.

Eva and America have both encouraged Latinas to share their “She Se Puede” moments on social media to engage and inspire a growing and close-knit Latina community where women see themselves reflected through everyday, raw moments.

Eva recently shared a Facebook photo of herself breastfeeding her son while working on set as a director. Eva posted, “This is my She Se Puede moment! This [photograph] was taken when I was directing right after my son was born. Breastfeeding on set, pumping milk on my breaks, and directing a television show was challenging. But I did it! And I knew I could because we (Latinas) can accomplish anything! Follow @she_sepuede and celebrate a moment you’re proud of with #shesepuede for a chance to be featured.”

America Ferrera, Rosario Dawson, Zoe Saldana and Eva Longoria are seen prior to the Latinas Stand Up rally in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images)

In September—just a few weeks before the presidential election—She Se Puede posted a call out on Instagram encouraging Latinas interested to join the “She Se Puede Power Squad.” It was part of an effort to encourage Latinas from across the country to step up and transform their lives, communities, and country by acting as community ambassadors.

For Eva, the platform is very much an empowering state of mind for Latinas:

“So when we say empowerment, we mean we want Latinas to feel empowered in everything that they do, from their careers, to their workouts, to what food they eat, and even how they can request their mail-in ballot,” said Eva.

The digital platform was officially created by a team of Latina leaders passionate about mobilizing and creating change in the community: Alex Martínez Kondracke, America Ferrera, Carmen Perez, Christy Haubegger, Elsa Collins, Eva Longoria Bastón, Jess Morales Rocketto, Mónica Ramírez, Olga Segura, and Stephanie Valencia.

Eva Longoria: From Desperate Housewives to Political Activist

Eva has used her influence as a Latina actress, director, producer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist to make a positive impact in the Latina community.

Known as the character Gabrielle Solis in the comedy-drama series, Desperate Housewives, Eva has often looked to the show’s storytelling and execution in her own journey as a producer. The show first aired its pilot in October 2004, putting her in the spotlight.

“For her, the Desperate Housewives pilot was a masterclass in how to create and launch a TV show, and she says she still uses what she learned from that experience as a producer launching her own shows,” Variety said.

The 2017 Philanthropist of the Year has also used her platform as an actress to shed light on other critical issues ranging from politics to better education and entrepreneurship opportunities for Latinas.

Eva has also been a prominent advocate for disability rights and amplifying the voices of Latinos in politics.

Eva Longorial and America Ferrera at Latinx event
Eva Longoria and America Ferrera attend The Latinx House And Netflix Host Their Joint Kick-off Party At The 2020 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Owen Hoffmann/Getty Images for The Latinx House)

She has been associated with many different charities and foundations over the years, with a focus on advocating for various causes affecting women and children.

In 2006, she co-founded Eva’s Heroes, an organization that aims to enrich the lives of individuals with intellectual special needs.

Eva’s Heroes is an organization that is very near and dear to her heart, as she has a sister with special needs. “I am blessed with a sister who has special needs. Now, I want to impact the lives of similar young adults nationwide,” said Eva.

With her entrepreneurial spirit and inspiring advocacy career, Eva has long been fighting for more representation of Latino political leaders, co-founding Latino Victory Fund, a progressive political committee to help grow Latino political power and influence.

Most recently, she headlined and opened up the 2020 Democratic National Convention with an inspiring speech about saving our democracy and making our voices heard:

“So, tonight we stand together, united by the values we cherish: Decency, respect, justice, and the opportunity to rise up. We always hear that line about this being the most important election of our lifetimes, but this year, it really is.”

In her keynote speech, she also acknowledged the lives lost and impacted by COVID-19, compounded by immense job loss and division. “Yet, in the middle of the fear and sorrow and uncertainty, people have come together because they know we are better than this. America is better than this,” she added.

It wasn’t long until Eva received criticism for headlining the convention from Marco Rubio in a tweet that said, “Brilliant move! No one is more in touch with the challenges & obstacles faced by everyday Americans than actors & celebrities.”

Eva hosted the DNC, not just as an actress, but also as a Latina woman with immense influence and advocacy for different important causes affecting women and the Latino community, said Refinery29.

Beyond her trailblazing work and committing to better Latino representation, she is also committed to empowering and supporting the Latino community through education and entrepreneurship opportunities.

In 2013, Eva received her master’s degree in Chicano Studies from California State University, Northridge. She has also worked tirelessly to help advocate for more Latino representation and job opportunities for Latinos in the Hollywood entertainment industry. USC Annenberg reported that between 2007 and 2013, only 3 percent of films featured leads or co-leads with Latino actors. And, of the films that were analyzed, only 4.5 percent of all speaking characters were Latino in the past decade.

Through her work with the Eva Longoria Foundation, Eva has been committed to investing in Latino community leaders and entrepreneurs. She recently joined forces with the Latino Community Foundation to continue supporting Latina entrepreneurs in California during the “Coming of Age” 15th anniversary gala in May 2020.

During the gala, Eva announced a new initiative aimed at investing and supporting Latina entrepreneurs in California. Proceeds from the gala supported Latino organizations that provide vital services to low-income families that are impacted by wage loss as well as California farmworkers and their families.

Eva has long been an outspoken advocate for Latino representation and has empowered Latina youth through various mentorship and STEM programs at the Eva Longoria Foundation.

The foundation’s programs help narrow the opportunity gap that many Latinas face through culturally relevant programs, such as STEM education, mentorship, parent engagement, and entrepreneurship.

The Eva Longoria Foundation says Latinas are a rapidly growing demographic with immense potential, but they “disproportionately lack educational opportunities and face economic challenges.”

The goal of the foundation is to close the education gap and help Latinas build better futures through education and entrepreneurship.

Along with supporting and empowering Latino youth, Eva is passionate about civic engagement, empowering Latino voters, and advocating for more Latino representation in politics.

She co-founded the Latino Victory Project—a progressive political action committee–to elevate the voices of Latinos through politics and increase representation “at every level of government.”

In July, Eva headlined a kickoff event announcing Latino Victory Fund’s launch of the First Latinas program geared toward electing “trailblazing Latinas” to increase Latina representation in government and other aspects of political life.

Eva Longoria, actress, activist, and Co-Founder of Latino Victory, gets ready to remove her “Vote” mask to speak before Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Whether it’s saving our democracy to empowering youth and advocating for women, Eva has become an outspoken and much-needed voice in the Latina community.

America Ferrera: From Ugly Betty to Advocating for the Rights of Women

As an award-winning actress, producer, director, activist, organizer, and the proud daughter of immigrants from Honduras, America Ferrera has paved the way for Latina representation, speaking out about pressing political issues, and encouraging women to be in “decision-making roles” by getting a seat at the table.

In the early 2000s, America appeared as a Latina lead in the cult-favorite ABC comedy series Ugly Betty and the movie Real Women Have Curves, along with countless other groundbreaking lead roles. She has also gone on to star in the NBC show Superstore and has produced and directed several TV shows.

She has also received countless awards and was recognized as the first Latina to win an Outstanding Lead Actress Emmy for her lead role in Ugly Betty.

“I don’t fit in traditional boxes for women on screen. When I became an actress, my mere presence was a revolution because I wasn’t supposed to exist in this industry,” America told net-a-porter in an interview.

America has spoken out about the need for Latinas to see themselves represented on television. In an interview with the New York Times, America talked about the importance of diverse storytelling and representation:

“Our writers aren’t sort of pulling issues from the headlines. They are mostly driven by the characters in the show. And this is where the real necessity for diversity is exemplified. It’s so that the storytelling is rich and compelling and relevant to today because that is what our world actually looks like. That is what our culture should be reflective of—all the different points of view and real-life experiences that one has as an America.”

America is also a storyteller herself: She wrote a New York Times bestselling book, American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures, which highlights the experience of growing up between cultures.

Perhaps America’s most notable role off-screen is one as an advocate for women and helping Latinas and women of color recognize their true power and influence.

She has continued to advocate for women across the globe. She recently served as a keynote speaker for the Texas Women’s Foundation virtual luncheon September 29, 2020.

Her keynote address highlighted the importance of creating opportunities for women and empowering them to speak out about their experiences. It was also an opportunity to discuss her book, which features essays of 31 other first-generation American artists and activists who share their personal accounts of assimilating in America and staying connected to their roots.

One of her most impactful and life-changing moments was when she was invited as the opening speaker at the historic inaugural Women’s March in D.C. in 2017, where she used her platform as an actress and women and civil rights advocate to create and inspire change.

America is no stranger to speaking out against injustices. She has also spoken out about various issues concerning immigration, the environment, and healthcare. She talked about the importance of the Women’s March and how that day continued to impact and inspire change:

“None of us knew how historical the march would be. We’ve lost so much ground in this country going backwards, making people’s lives less equal and dignified. I think back to that day: we’re not alone, people will show up,” America told net-a-porter.

America’s experience at the historic Women’s March was something that continued to inspire her advocacy through her nonprofit organization, Harness. She began thinking of innovative ways to mobilize and bring communities together through the power of love, relationship building, and sustaining movements.

In an excerpt from “Together We Rise: Behind the Scenes at the Protest Heard Around the World” as quoted by Time Magazine, America talked about the impact of the Women’s March and the need to continue talking about channeling energy into sustaining the movement: “Our gatherings grew into an organization called Harness. We bring people together in the hope that those wanting to use their voices can do it from a deeper, more rooted place, because they are invested in real, personal relationships. That’s the fuel. The people you meet, the bodies you hug, the stories you hear. We don’t have to worry about people going home and forgetting what they heard and what they need to do. You don’t forget about people you know and love—you carry them in your heart. If we can bring that ethic of community and love into our daily lives, I believe we can sustain the movement.”

In 2016, America addressed the Democratic National Convention and later that year. After the events that transpired after the election, she launched Harness, along with her husband, Ryan Pier Williams, and Wilmer Valderrama.

The organization features a robust community of artists, activists, as well as entertainment leaders to elevate the experiences of marginalized communities. Today, Harness is more critical than ever during a pandemic that has claimed the lives of 200,000 Americans and continued racial injustice.

In an interview with Vogue, America talked about the decisions that others make about the lives of others and the importance of art and spreading political awareness:

“People make decisions every single day that impact my life—the air I breathe, my ability to walk down the street and be safe, how much money I make for the job I do, whether I can choose what happens to my body. And at every important social moment in our history, artists have played a role. It doesn’t have to be about marching. The art itself has a role to play. At the end of the day, it’s about wielding that sword with awareness.”

America also hasn’t shied away from getting political and speaking out about inequalities and injustice to women. She shared her personal experience as a survivor of childhood sexual assault during #MeToo:

“First time I can remember being sexually assaulted I was 9 years old…I told no one and lived with the shame and guilt thinking all along that I, a 9-year-old child, was somehow responsible for the actions of a grown man,” America told Variety.

America Ferrera Book
America Ferrera Book

She also went on to show solidarity with leaders and activists during the launch of the Time’s Up Movement, an initiative that aims to address issues related to sexual harassment in the workplace and the need for more advocacy for women. Several Hollywood leaders and celebrities like America and Shonda Rhimes committed to the movement’s mission in solidarity.

According to InStyle, America was one of the “first women in Hollywood who listened when 700,000 blue-collar women wrote an open letter offering support for those who’ve publicly shared their sexual harassment stories.”

In 2019, America helped mobilize and lead a group of actors including Eva, Kerry Washington, and others to meet with immigrant lawyers and migrant families seeking asylum.

America was deeply concerned about the Trump Administration policies and treatment of refugees. She told NBC News that the visit to the shelter in Tijuana was an opportunity to educate others on important issues.

She referenced being a mom and holding her newborn just the previous year, and thinking about the lack of running water or clean food that many refugees who are trying to seek asylum are denied: “How dire would my situation have to be to grab this brand new child and walk for a month, with no access to clean water and food, not knowing what I would meet along the way, to try and seek asylum and safety and refuge because my situation was so bad?” America questioned.

Over the years, America has become an empowering force in the Latina community. She’s been a much-needed voice speaking out about issues that concern women.

The Future of ‘She Se Puede’

Both America and Eva have made an impact speaking out about important issues affecting our communities, while empowering Latinas to tap into their inner strength and power.

The launch of She Se Puede comes at a critical time in the wake of important movements amplifying the impact of women, particularly Latinas.

As prominent Latina women with immense influence, both Eva and America are committed to continuing to uplift the voices of Latina women both online and offline.

She Se Puede continues to be a hopeful and optimistic digital community platform that addresses Latinas’ unique needs and provides ongoing support and resources to empower change.

“She Se Puede is the destination for the modern Latina who wants to level up her life. We celebrate our diverse experiences and dreams, and provide the tools we need to own our power. She Se Puede is a community for Latinas, by Latinas.”

Air Force Civilian Service

Air Force Civilian Service

American Family

American Family Insurance

Verizon

Verizon