Monday, November 4, 2013

Report on the 2013 HOLA Awards

It was a lovely early autumn (some would say "Indian summer") evening in October. The impending sunset behind the Statue of Liberty and the Ellis Island was the stunning backdrop of the 2013 HOLA Awards Gala and Benefit from the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors (HOLA), which took place on Monday, October 21, 2013 at The Battery Gardens, located in Battery Park at the southernmost tip of Manhattan Island in New York City.

The event was sponsored by Delta Air Lines (presenting sponsor) and PepsiCo, among others and was hosted by NBC/Telemundo 47 WNJU's Odalys Molina and Rafael Bello (ably and deftly filling in for previously announced host, the journalist Jorge Ramos when the latter was called away on a work assignment on the NYC mayoral debates).

Entertainment was provided by a pair of divas. Inma Heredia sang and performed while channeling the late Sara Montiel. Her vivacious performance was a sneak peek preview of her current solo show Divas de España/Spanish Divas, directed by Adolfo Vázquez and being presented at the Centro Español in New York. The incomparable Jeannie Sol, who paid homage to ladies of song both living (Dame Shirley Bassey) and deceased (Celia Cruz, on the occasion of what would have been the guarachera de Cuba's 88th birthday; and a tribute to Eydie Gormé, in which she was partly joined by César Orlando Suárez "Orly" for a duet).

Celebrities such as David Zayas (most recently of Showtime's "Dexter"), Florencia Lozano (ABC's "One Life to Live"), Selenis Leyva (of the red hot Netflix series "Orange is the New Black"), Kiki Meléndez (of the series of comedy specials "Hot Tamales Live" and the upcoming mockumentary The Journey of a Female Comic), Pulitzer Prize winner (and a 2013 HOLA Award recipient) Quiara Alegría Hudes and famed musician Paquito D'Rivera graced the red carpet and happily posed for photos.

The evening began with three proclamations handed out to HOLA from the Honorable Dean G. Skelos, Temporary President and Majority Leader of the State Senate of New York; and the Honorable Brian P. Stack, who presented a pair of proclamations in his capacities as both State Senator of New Jersey and Mayor of the City of Union City (in collaboration with that city's Board of Commissioners). They were presented to staff and board members of HOLA at the event by Welquis Ray López and Lucio Fernández, respectively.

The HOLA Awards were also handed out that evening to such luminaries as star of stage and screen (and recent Emmy Award winner) Bobby Cannavale (HOLA José Ferrer Tespis Award) and Vanessa Verduga (HOLA Award for Excellence in Multimedia). HBO Latino received the HOLA Award for Excellence in Media. Nadine Velázquez (of TNT's "Major Crimes") was unable to attend the awards gala to pick up her but she sent a lovely video where she proclaimed that this award was her first award ever (save for a third-place ribbon she won in the third grade for reading comprehension).

In addition, the HOLA Awards were handed out for excellence in Latino theater in New York over the previous season (July 2012 through June 2013). Presenters included Manny Alfaro, Adela María Bolet, J.W. Cortés, Betty Cutie, Elaine Del Valle, Manolo García Oliva, Nelson Landrieu, A.B. Lugo, Jesús E. Martínez, Kiki Meléndez, Carlos Navedo, Louis Perego Moreno (Tío Louie), Fanny Rybin, Adriana Sananes, Kathy Tejada and David Zayas. A complete list of recipients of the 2013 HOLA Awards Gala and Benefit can be found by clicking here.

A standing ovation was given when the Special Recognition award for over 40 years of excellence in film, television and theater was given to Juan Villarreal (complete with a video retrospective of his work featuring many of the actors in attendance). Also, two theater companies (Danisarte and Teatro Tocando Puertas) picked up a special honor for their respective twentieth anniversary, while Teatro Experimental Blue Amigos (TEBA) received an honor for its silver (twenty-fifth) anniversary.

Other highlights include the colorful speech given by Playwriting Award recipient Ínigo Ramírez de Haro; the effusive, at times comical, and truly heartfelt words by Special Recognition Award recipient Basil Rojas; the mother-daughter team of América Barrera and Liliana Barrera picking up a joint Technical Production honor; Brenda Feliciano, Shadia Fairuz, Gizelxanath and Virginia Herrera-Crilly, the quartet of lovely ladies of the Repertorio Español production Bésame mucho, of which the original cast were recipients of 2013 HOLA Awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble, singing along to the songs sung by Mmes Heredia and Sol; José Roldán, Jr.'s inspirational word and praise of HOLA when he accepted his Outstanding Solo Production award; and wonderful speeches by Felix Solis; Liza Colón-Zayas; Caridad Del Valle; Pep Muñoz; Loren Escandón; Cedric Leiba, Jr.; Cecilia Saia; Pablo Zinger; and others.

The top award, the Gilberto Zaldívar HOLA Award for Outstanding Production went to Otro Teatro NY's Frágil (accepted by director-producer-actor Billy Martin Mejía and actor-producer Angie Regina) and Repertorio Español's Fuenteovejuna (accepted by director Julián Mesri). The evening ended with with smiles, laughter and goodwill as awardees and honorees congratulated each other and other people in the community greeted one another and participated in the merriment.

The Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors (HOLA) would like to thank Delta Air Lines (for being the event's presenting sponsor) and PepsiCo (for their sponsorship); NBCUniversal, HBO, Actors' Equity Association, Second Stage Theatre, the staff of the Battery Gardens restaurant, Louis Perego Moreno (also known as Tío Louie), José A. Esquea, Fredonia Productions (Marco Alfredo Páez and Sydney Stephenson), Rafael Bello and Odalys Molina; Jeannie Sol, Inma Heredia, Anthony Ruiz, José Luis Victoria, Ricardo Bacallao, Liche Ariza, Kiki Meléndez, Irene Cabrera; technicians Daniel D'Ambrosi, Irving Maldonado, Kristian Otero and Christopher Cruz; volunteers Mónica Delgado, Deejay Manak, Celeste Muñiz, Vida Malaika Landrón (who was also our "Miss HOLA", helping out with the handling of awards), Piera Lolandes, Laura Riveros, Christopher Rybin, Fanny Rybin, Patrick Michael Valley and Phoenix Ximénez; and, of course, everyone who attended and/or supported HOLA and the fourteenth annual HOLA Awards. For more photos of the event (by Anthony Ruiz/ARuiz Photography), click here.

No comments: