Thursday, December 3, 2009

2009 HOLA Awards Report

The Tenth Annual HOLA Awards and Benefit took place on Monday, October 26, 2009 at the nation's oldest theatrical club, The Players, which overlooks Gramercy Park in Manhattan, New York City. Salsa singer Javier Luis opened the ceremony with two songs. Following that, there was a poignant moment when HOLA Advisory Board Member Alex Segura praised his uncle, former HOLA Board Chairman Francisco G. Rivela, who passed away earlier this year. Instead of a moment of a silence, as per HOLA Awards tradition, he asked for applause for the late actor, director and announcer. This resulted in a full standing ovation which lasted several minutes amid voices screaming, "Bravo! Bravo!"

After the auspicious beginning, masters of ceremonies Jorge Ramos, Odalys Molina and Mario Bósquez hosted the awards ceremony. The evening was a series of highlights. Outstanding Solo Performance awardee Marga Gómez thanked HOLA ("or as the kids call it nowadays, 'HOLLA'") for her second HOLA award. Outstanding Featured Female Actor awardee Selenis Leyva won her first solo HOLA Award in 12 years of acting for, in her words, "playing a whore." She then said, "If I play more whores, maybe I'll get more awards. (Editor's note: By sheer coincidence, she is currently, um, playing a prostitute in the musical Pantaleón y las visitadoras).

Outstanding Achievement in Direction awardee José A. Esquea gave his speech in both in English and Spanish before having to run off the stage (he was also stage managing the event). Outstanding Female Actor awardee Carissa Jocétt Toro was sweet when she announced that she was "honored to be in the room with all of [these] people." She added that she would love to work with all of them one day.

Other highlights were the acceptance speeches of Broadway and TV star Sara Ramírez via video (she is currently shooting "Grey's Anatomy" in Los Angeles), star of stage and screen Luis Antonio Ramos (who talked of his love for the Yankees and gave a special message in Spanish to his mother), Tony winner David Álvarez and Spanish TV star Ricardo Gómez ("Cuéntame cómo pasó), as well as appearances by Tony Plana (ABC's "Ugly Betty"), Florencia Lozano (ABC's "One Life to Live") and Carson Kressley (Bravo's "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy"), the evening made for a star-studded event.

Following a performance by Out of Isla, the two lifetime achievement awardees (Silvia Brito and René Sánchez) gave speeches. And like that, it was over. Another amazing HOLA Awards ceremony goes down in the history books. If you would like to see some photos of the HOLA Awards (taken by A Ruiz Photography), click here.

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