John Leguizamo, Stephanie Beatriz, others talk about creating authentic Latino Stories
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John Leguizamo

Even for celebrated Latinx performers like John Leguizamo, finding success in the entertainment industry is a hard-fought and seemingly never-ending battle. But as a newcomer to the business, Leguizamo recalls being galvanized by the struggle into telling his own stories.

“I just kept getting put into these really negative roles that I felt I was contributing to the downgrade of the Latinx image in the media,” he tells Variety. “I wanted to write my own stuff, so I could portray my people the way I saw them and felt them.” And that’s exactly what the Leguizamo did. His 1991 off-Broadway production of “Mambo Mouth” was a hit. Despite being forced to perform in the hallway of the theater, the show brought in big names including Arthur Miller, Al Pacino and John F. Kennedy Jr.

“All of a sudden I felt like I have something to offer,” Leguizamo says. “I have something that white America, Black America, that Latin America wants. This became the impetus of my whole life.”

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Variety brought together prominent Latinx creatives who have all had to carve their own path on the road of success in Hollywood. Cristela Alonzo, Benjamin Bratt, Stephanie Beatriz, Julio Torres and Leguizamo joined Variety’s film awards editor Clayton Davis for a “#Represent” roundtable discussion looking to learn what each individual’s definition of career prosperity is, and what that looks like moving forward for Latinx creators and artists in the future.

Torres, a former “Saturday Night Live” writer who has made both a comedy special and series with HBO, says he uses the word “success” very cautiously. “I have that immigrant thing where I feel like it can go away any second,” he explains. But he reveals that a highlight of his career, thus far, has been developing his standup special “My Favorite Shapes,” which prominently features a rotating selection of objects to which he has a special connection.

“One of my happiest moments was going to the warehouse where this conveyor belt was being made for this show. I thought like, ‘Oh my God, how’d I trick HBO into greenlighting this thing?’” he says. “I feel like I fooled enough people into investing in me.”

Alonzo first felt like a success when she signed a deal with ABC to develop her own show. “I was writing for other Latinos and I could actually control the authenticity,” she explains.

“Cristela” ran for one 22-episode season on the network between 2014 and 2015 before its cancellation. The show debuted alongside “Black-ish” and the now-canceled “Fresh Off the Boat” — both series that have accumulated well over 100 episodes to date. Making the case that representation must extend behind the scenes and into the executive suite, Alonzo says that “Fresh Off the Boat” and “Black-ish” had the benefit of having Black and Asian executives in their corners, something her show lacked.

“There were no Latino executives or anybody at that network [that worked on ‘Cristela’]. I had to fight with them all the time to explain my existence,” Alonzo says. “If my story didn’t fit their version of what Latino life is, it was inauthentic to them.”

Advocating for authenticity has long been a priority for the actor and comedian, who says her own creative ambitions were born out of a desire to push beyond stereotypes. Alonzo started doing stand-up comedy because she “wanted to write the words” she was going to say. “I was sick and tired of playing the maid… Every audition, the accent got thicker and thicker,” she recalls, adding that she even went so far as to refuse auditions for those roles, a move her agent advised against.

Continue to NBC News to read the full article. 

Photo Credit:  Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Golden Globes 2021: Complete List of Winners and Nominees
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Image of golden globe awards trophy close up

The 78th Golden Globe Awards kicked off Sunday night after being delayed for nearly two months by the coronavirus pandemic. “Nomadland” won the award for best drama film and “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” won best comedy film. Andra Day won the best actress in a drama for “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” and Chadwick Boseman posthumously received the award for best actor in a drama for what became his final movie role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”

Chloé Zhao, who helmed “Nomadland,” became only the second woman ever to win best director. Jane Fonda received the Cecil B. DeMille Award and Norman Lear became the third ever recipient of the Carol Burnett Award.

Amy Poehler and Tina Fey hosted the bicoastal virtual ceremony, with Fey presenting from the Rainbow Room in New York City and Poehler hosting from The Beverly Hilton in California, where the awards ceremony is traditionally held.

Netflix led the pack with a whopping 42 nominations. “Mank,” the streaming service’s film about “Citizen Kane” screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz, received the most nominations of any film this year with six, although it failed to win any of those awards. Netflix’s “The Crown” also garnered six nominations, the most for any television series this year as well. The historical drama took home awards for best drama, best actress, best actor and best supporting actress.

Best Television Series — Drama
“The Crown” — Winner
Lovecraft Country”
“The Mandalorian”
“Ozark”
“Ratched”

Best Television Series — Musical or Comedy
“Schitt’s Creek” — Winner
“Emily in Paris”
“The Flight Attendant”
“The Great”
“Ted Lasso”

Best Television Limited Series, Anthology Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
“The Queen’s Gambit” — Winner
“Normal People”
“Small Axe”
“The Undoing”
“Unorthodox”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series — Drama
Emma Corrin, “The Crown” — Winner
Olivia Coleman, “The Crown”
Jodie Comer, “Killing Eve”
Laura Linney, “Ozark”
Sarah Paulson, “Ratched”

Continue to CBS News for the full list of nominees and winners.

Demi Lovato reveals in new YouTube doc that she had 3 strokes and a heart attack
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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
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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
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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
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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
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“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
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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
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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
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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
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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)

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