Latinos Succeeding in the Entertainment Industry Now More Than Ever

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latino_successOn Sunday, Feb. 25, the 79th Annual Academy Awards will feature a record number of nominations of Latinos in some of the top awards.  Three of the most critically acclaimed films in the past year, Babel, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Children of Men, were directed by Mexican directors.  Penelope Cruz of Spain was nominated for the Best Actress award for her part in “Volver” the first time an actress was nominated in a Spanish-speaking role.   Another first came when “Babel” director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu was the first Mexican to be nominated for Best Directing for a total of 7 nominations for the film.  “Pan’s Labyrinth” directors Guillermo Del Toro, has displayed his talent in the past in films like “Hellboy” and “Blade 2”, but this time around his Spanish-language “Labyrinth” earned 6 nominations including Best Foreign Language Film.  Alfonso Cuaron of “Y Tu Mama Tambien” fame, co-wrote and directed “Children of Men” which earned the film 3 nominations including Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) and Best Cinematography.  This shows that mainstream America accepts the contributions that Latinos bring to U.S. arts and culture.  Even though the Oscars have been criticized for having a history of ignoring talented minorities in the movie industry, in the past few years they have been doing a better job at making the event more diverse.  This influence on the mainstream pop culture comes in the heels of last month’s Golden Globe Awards in which Ugly Betty won Best Musical/Comedy Series and America Ferrera won the Best Actress, Musical/Comedy for the same series.  Ugly Betty was originally a Colombian novela (soap opera) that has been hugely successful in Mexico and now as the American version which is produced by Salma Hayek.  It seems as though mainstream America has had a taste of what Latinos in entertainment bring to that table and it sure tastes good. As an immigrant and Latino, it makes me proud of their accomplishments and yes, I’m going to get a little political about it. Some of these movies and shows like “Ugly Betty” are able to captivate audiences of all backgrounds as well as expose them to different cultures while entertaining them.  People let these characters in their homes on a weekly basis and spend money at the movies to experience these stories with a Latino touch.  Now if mainstream America would just be a little more accepting of the average Jose, we would have some real understanding of other people, who might look a little different but actually have a lot of things in common. People think it’s so cool to be “Hollywood”, well let’s try to be a little more “Hollywood” and get to know someone from a different culture. Ask an immigrant what brought them here; ask them about their journey here.  You would be surprised at some of the stories people have. These are the stories of everyday people leaving everything they know and love behind, looking for that happy ending.  Some I would even consider adventures that are interesting enough to make a movie or even a television series about.

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