Friday, October 23, 2015

Report on the 2015 HOLA Awards – A Very Special Tío Louie Reporta

HOLA is proud to present Tío Louie Reporta, where filmmaker and Executive Producer of Prime Latino Media, Louis Perego Moreno (also known as Tío Louie) interviews actors and multimedia-makers in the business. In this report, he talks about his experiences at the 2015 HOLA Awards.

In the summer of 2012, when Prime Latino Media was only six months old – championing bilingual Latino multimedia-makers, I met A.B. Lugo with a group of people on picnic blankets listening to a New York Philharmonic concert in Central Park. At one point, a Latino person complained about yet another slight against Latinos in media and entertainment and how our community’s talents were not being optimized. I turned around and asked why our organizations were not being more vocal in mobilizing for the sake of advocacy for our community. That was the beginning of a collaborative relationship between the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors (HOLA) and Prime Latino Media that will turn four years old in January. So much so that Prime Latino Media has expanded its mantra to champion bilingual Latino multimedia-makers and actors. But what this collaboration has taught me is that we can scream and demand that we are a force to reckon with or we can simply shine by highlighting our best talent in film, television and theater by getting together annually to celebrate the gems in our community through the HOLA Awards gala.

This year’s gathering was exceptional, I would even say magical. Not only was it packed, it was graced with some special awardees who did not refrain from sharing selflessly, inspiring and indulging attendees with several dozen “selfies.” It was truly a Latino celebration that made one proud to be Latino and in media and entertainment.

Benicio del Toro, from San Germán, Puerto Rico, who is currently starring in the nationally-released feature film Sicario, could not have been more visibly moved by all the acceptance speeches from theatrical actors in Spanish-language plays to Latinas from Netflix series and proudly talked about the role legendary fellow Puerto Rican actor Raúl Juliá played in his life as an actor-mentor and how proud he was to receive an award named after him with the HOLA Raúl Juliá Founders Award.

Bronx-born Andrea Navedo who is on "Jane The Virgin", one of the hottest TV shows on the air (after just a few months on the air the Hollywood Foreign Press Association awarded it a Golden Globe in January 2015) gave one of the most humble acceptance speeches when presented with the HOLA Elizabeth Peña Breakthrough Award. She described her professional journey as one of  20 years. And though she felt that she was not at the pinnacle of her career, she was grateful for the heights she had reached and impressed on everyone that tenacity is the name of the game and if committed to your passion in acting, you will never give up.

Puerto Rican-Cuban-American Academy Award and Golden Globe winner for Birdman, Alexander Dinelaris could not have been an earthier soul and accessible to all who approached. All of this on the heels of writing the book for the Broadway musical On Your Feet!: The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan, and meticulously attending all of the show’s previews with a fine-tuning eye several weeks before the premiere on November 5, 2015. When he received the HOLA and R.Evolución Latina Dare To Go Beyond Award he shared that his only regret was that his parents had not taught him Spanish as a kid. For Latinos in media and entertainment aspiring to receiving an Oscar, that should be our biggest regret as he was cheered on when graciously accepting his award by one of R.Evolución Latina’s founders, Mexican-born Gabriela García, known for her dancing role on Broadway’s musical Chicago.

One of the highlights on the red carpet was a surreptitious reunion of the cast of the Netflix blockbuster series "Orange is the New Black". Seeing the look of surprise when two honorees, Selenis Leyva (HOLA José Ferrer Tespis Award) and Dascha Polanco (HOLA Innovadora Award) who arrived separately were brought together for a group shot with Tyler Álvarez (who plays Leyva’s son in the series) and the sheer look of joy when they all indulged in a genuine group hug.

I could not let the evening go unscathed without pushing at least one button. As stars sometimes get confused for someone else or associated with another project, at one point I pulled over Gina Rodríguez’s mom in "Jane The Virgin", honoree Andrea Navedo and (jokingly) congratulated her on her role in "True Blood", but how inconsolable I was when the vampire attacked her on the show. Always the lady, there was a pregnant pause as she stopped in her tracks, blinked her eyes and kindly explained that it was not her. One thing we know about this actress is that you never forget a role she is in and do not readily confuse her with anyone else. Reinforcing this point was when I attended the Chelsea Film Festival over the weekend and an actor learned that I was involved with the HOLA Awards gala who had previously worked with her spoke glowingly about her as a top-notch actor and added that she was a gem of a human being. Two strangers, from completely different cultures, agreed.

This is our community of Latinos in bilingual Latino and mainstream media and entertainment, no divas, star climbers and those simply clamoring for another award on their mantle. All honorees and awardees present were drawn to this special celebration and they embraced their professional colleagues and audience, as they were mutually embraced in turn. This is why we do the work we do and champion for these souls in the USA and the multitude of talent to come after them. This is what will bring any glass ceiling crashing down ~ ¡adelante y progreso!

[Additional 2015 HOLA Award honorees included Marisa Ramírez, Francisco Gattorno, and Adriana Vargas. Photos of the 2015 HOLA Awards were taken by Anthony Ruiz/ARuiz Photography, Marcos Sotomayor/Mister R E Productions, and Charles Díaz/Charles Díaz Photography. To see additional photos of the event, click here, here and here.]

Louis Perego Moreno (Tío Louie) is Founder and Executive Producer of PRIME LATINO MEDIA, the largest network of Latino multimedia-makers and actors on the East Coast that hosts the PRIME LATINO MEDIA Salón, New York metropolitan area's only monthly network gathering in which over 60 narrative & documentary filmmakers, programmers, casting agents, TV & digital media producers and actors have been interviewed. An interactive content producer and educator who for the past 34 years has owned Skyline Features, a bilingual (English- and Spanish-language) multimedia and educational production company developing documentaries, television programming and advertising commercials featuring Latinos, Blacks, Women, Urban Youth and LGBT. Produced 70 documentary shorts with 1,500 Latino and Black Youth. Producer-Director-Writer of documentary feature, Latina Confessions (2010) and airing on PBS nationally was co-producer on American Dreams Deferred (2012-2014).

Join Prime Latino Media on Facebook by clicking here.

No comments: