Thursday, July 14, 2011

Betcha Didn't Know...?

Some of the most notable names from the dawn of film and television are of Latino descent. Here are some of them.

In this edition, vixens of reality television.

Nicole Richie (1981- ) was born Nicole Camille Escovedo in Berkeley, California, U.S.A. to parents of Mexican and African American heritage. She is a fashion designer, author, actress and television personality. Her birth parents found it difficult to provide for her financially and, at the age of three, they agreed to let her move in with singer-songwriter Lionel Richie and his then-wife Brenda Harvey. They effectively raised her as their daughter. She was legally adopted by the Richies at age nine. Musical icons Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson were her godfathers. She met socialite Paris Hilton in kindergarten. They became best friends. In 2003, she and Hilton starred in the reality television series "The Simple Life" on Fox, where she received stardom for her outspoken, comedic persona. Cancelled by Fox after three shows, the show was picked by E! Entertainment Television for two more seasons. During this time, she battled with drug and weight issues. After an arrest for driving under the influence and enrolling in an anti-drinking driver education program, she has remained relatively trouble-free. In 2005, she made her acting debut in the comedic drama Kids in America and has guest starred in television series including "Eve," "Six Feet Under," "American Dreams, "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter," and playing the recurring character Heather Chandler on "Chuck." In 2005, she wrote a semi-autobiographical novel, The Truth About Diamonds, which made The New York Times Best-Seller List. Her second novel, titled Priceless, was released in 2010. It tells the story of a girl who loses everything and then learns about what really matters in life. She has been with Good Charlotte lead singer Joel Madden since 2006. They have two children: daughter Harlow Winter Kate Richie-Madden (born in 2008) and son Sparrow James Midnight Madden (born in 2009). They married in 2010. In October 2008, she debuted a jewelry line, House of Harlow 1960. In spring 2010, the line was extended to include apparel and shoes. In 2009, she joined maternity store A Pea in the Pod to create a new collection ofmaternity clothes; the line was titled "Nicole." In 2010, she won "Entrepreneur of the Year" for her House of Harlow 1960 brand at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards. In July 2011, it was reported that Richie's House of Harlow 1960 line has unveiled a 14-piece handbag collection, which will be available at major department stores across the U.S. as well as on

Kat Von D (1982- ) was born Katherine Drachenberg (or Katherine von Drachenberg according to some sources) in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico to a Mexican-German father and Argentinean-Italian mother. She is a tattoo artist and television personality. She is best known for for her work as a tattoo artist on the TLC reality television show "LA Ink," which premiered in 2007. She moved with her family to the Los Angeles area at age 4 and grew up in Colton, California. She was classically trained in piano beginning at age 6. She credits the prominent African American culture of New York City as being a major influence drawing tattoos in her art and style. She got her first tattoo at 14 and quit school at 16 to become a tattoo artist. She was asked to work on the program "Miami Ink" when a tattoo artist broke his elbow, preventing him from tattooing. She appeared in the first four seasons of the that show, which led to her own series, "LA Ink," following her work at her tattoo shop, High Voltage Tattoo, in Hollywood, California. On the show, she gained the Guinness World Record of most tattoos given by a single person in 24 hours, with a total of 400. This was broken shortly thereafter by her then-husband Oliver Peck with 415 (the current record holder is Hollis Cantrell with 801). Her first book High Voltage Tattoo, compiling her artworks and tattoos was released in January 2009 and reached #6 on The New York Times Best Seller list. The book traces her career as an artist, from early childhood influences to recent work, along with examples of inspirations, information about the show and her shop, sketches, and personal tattoos. Her second book, The Tattoo Chronicles, an illustrated diary following a year in her life, was released in 2010, and reached #3 on The New York Times Hardcover Advice & Miscellaneous best-seller list. In 2008, she created and launched a makeup line for Sephora. She has released new collections every year and has expanded her line to include fragrances. She is the creator of the MusInk Tattoo Convention and Music Festival, which began in 2008. In 2010, she opened the art gallery and boutique Wonderland Gallery in the space next door to High Voltage Tattoo.

Nicole Catherine Polizzi (1987- ), also known as Snooki, born in Santiago, Santiago de Chile, Chile to Chilean parents. She was adopted when she was six months old and was raised by Italian American parents. She received her nickname, Snooki, in middle school when her friends named her after "Snookie," a male character in the movie Save the Last Dance, because she was the first of her friends to kiss a boy. She grew up and attended school in Marlboro, New York, where she was a cheerleader. During high school, she suffered from an eating disorder, at one point weighing 80 pounds (36 kg). In 2009, she became part of the reality TV series "Jersey Shore" (MTV) after being scouted by the casting director. The New York Times identified her as "the breakout member of the cast." According to The New York Times, her actions on the show have caused her to be the target of public disdain while having a "strange appeal." She was subsequently parodied in the "South Park" episode "It's a Jersey Thing," and is frequently caricatured on "Saturday Night Live" by actor Bobby Moynihan.

Jennifer Farley (1986- ), also known as JWoww, was born in Franklin Square, New York, U.S.A. to a Spaniard mother and an Irish-American father. She is a television personality and best known for her participation on the MTV reality series "Jersey Shore," which started in 2009. Prior to the show, she owned a graphic design business, Jenni Farley Designs, Inc. She launched a clothing line, "Filthy Couture," in a las Vegas runway show in July, 2010. After four months of operation, the line ceased sales in October 2010 due to a threatened trademark lawsuit. She stated that the brand was not over and a new line would be released. In April 2011, MTV announced that it ordered two Jersey Shore spin-off series, one of which will feature her and fellow Latina castmate Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi. Twelve episodes were ordered for the first season.

The reality competition series America's Next Top Model has had its share of Latina contestants, even having a Latina winner (Jaslene González, born in 1986 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, shown at left). But she is called the first full-Latina winner, three previous ANTM cycle winners were also part-Latina. Cycle 2's Yoanna House (1980- , born in Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.A.), shown below right at bottom, has a Mexican mother and a Canadian father. Cycle 4's Naima Mora (1984- , born in Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.), shown below right at top, has an Irish-African American mother and an Afro-Mexican father. Both speak Spanish as well as English. Cycle 3's Eva Marcille Pigford (1984- , born in Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.), now known professionally as Eva Marcille, shown below right at middle, has a Puerto Rican father and an African American mother. ¡Qué belleza latina!

Also interesting to note that the Puerto Rican-American Sandra Díaz-Twine (1974- , born in Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.A.), winner of both the seventh season of "Survivor" (also known as "Survivor: Pearl Islands, Panama") and the twentieth season of the show (known as "Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains") has earned the most money ever won by a woman in an American television contest (and fourth overall) with a total winnings of U.S.$2,000,000. She is also, as of this writing, the only two-time "Survivor" winner.

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