Michelle Rodriguez, Benjamin Bratt, Cesar Milan, Cheech Marin and other Latino stars celebrated Latinos in the media at the Impact Awards and CineMovie spoke to the honorees and guests on the red carpet about portrayals of Latinos in Hollywood and what being Latino means to them.
The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) presented the 15th Annual Impact Awards in Beverly Hills in February. Rob Schneider and Claudia Bassols, stars of CBS’s “Rob” were host of the annual gala of Latino talent. Cesar Millan, Benjamin Bratt, Michelle Rodriguez, Efren Ramirez, Aubrey Plaza, director Chris Weitz (A Better Life), and music artist Taboo were honored at NHMC’s night at the Beverly Wilshire. The annual fete celebrates outstanding Latino performances, as well as recognizing exceptional service and commitment to the Latino community.
On the red carpet, CineMovie’s David Gonzalez caught up with the stars and asked if there ever was a time when the actors spoke up about changing something in the script or role when it came to stereotypes. Benjamin Bratt (Private Practice, Traffic) told CineMovie he finds it “disheartening” that Hollywood has gone “backwards” with a lack of portrayals of Latinos in “television and mainstream media.” The solution for Bratt is for Latinos to “take authorship” of the stories. Michelle Rodriguez (Battle:LA, Fast & Furious) agrees there is too much of it that exists and you’re better off writing your own scripts. Veteran actress Lupe Ontiveros (Selena) says she has spoken up many times about small changes but never felt comfortable changing the scope of the project or telling a writer how to do their job.
When it comes to describing the Latino experience, the celebrities had a few words to say about being Latino. Cheech Marin joked “it’s everyone that kind of knows Spanish and has a “z” in their name. Lupe Ontiveros offered up the word “cojonuda” while the dog whisperer Cesar Milan said “grateful.” Benjamin and his wife Talia Soto described Latino as “alma” and “mucho sabor.” And the night had lots of that.
More about the Impact Awards
The annual fete celebrates outstanding Latino performances, as well as recognizes exceptional service and commitment to the Latino community. “Recognizing the positive portrayal of Latinos in the media is a social justice matter. Latinos make up 16.5% of America. We need and deserve to see uplifting reflections of our community onscreen. NHMC is very proud of the career achievements of this year’s awardees and most honored to celebrate them with our community,” said Alex Nogales, President/CEO of NHMC. The annual black-tie event will once again attract the best and brightest from the entertainment industry.
Cesar Millan: Outstanding Reality Show. Millan is a media entrepreneur and best-selling author for his popular and iconic series, Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan. Dog Whisperer is National Geographic WILD’s flagship series and airs in more than 100 countries worldwide.
Michelle Rodriguez: Outstanding Performance in a Motion Picture. Rodriguez’s career was launched when she starred in the critically acclaimed indie film Girlfight. Michelle has since starred in many franchise hits such as the adrenaline-charged The Fast and the Furious and the action-horror film Resident Evil. Michelle will reprise her roles in both franchises this coming year. She was last seen in Machete and Battle: Los Angeles.
Benjamin Bratt: Outstanding Performance in a Television Series. Bratt was recognized for his role as “Dr. Jake Reilly” on the hit ABC primetime series Private Practice. He garnered an Emmy Award nomination for his role on NBC’s hit drama Law & Order. Bratt’s distinguished film career includes Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic, which received five Academy Award nominations.
Christopher Weitz: Outstanding Direction in a Motion Picture. Director, producer, and writer Chris Weitz garnered attention worldwide with his work on such films as American Pie, The Golden Compass, and About a Boy, for which he earned an Academy Award nomination in 2003 for best adapted screenplay. In 2009, Weitz directed The Twilight Saga: New Moon, based on the popular book series and most recently directed A Better Life – a poignant, multi-generational story about a father’s love and sacrifice to build a better life for his child. Since the film’s June 2011 release, it has been selected by the National Board of Review as one of the “Top Ten Independent Films” of the year.
Impact Awards was presented to: Efren Ramirez, Outstanding Performance in an Animated Television Series, for his captivating voice performance in the animated series, Napoleon Dynamite on FOX, to comedienne and actress Aubrey Plaza, Outstanding Performance in a Television Series, for her deadpan- style portrayal of “April Ludgate” on the hit NBC comedy Parks and Recreation. And an Impact Award for Outstanding Advocate for the Latino Community will be presented to musician and actor Jaime Gomez, best known by his fans as Taboo, for sharing his success by supporting several charities, as well as stirring advocacy for the Latino community, avidly speaking out against racism.
To find out more about NHMC, visit http://www.nhmc.org.