Culture

21 Latino Celebrities Who Don’t Speak Spanish

There’s nothing worse than being in a crowd of family members and friends and realizing that you’re the only one whose Spanish is too rudimentary to keep up with the conversation. Whether you speak Spanish or not, Latino culture is about so much more than the languages that we speak- it’s about our shared heritage, and the way that we celebrate it together. In fact, there are tons of well-known Latino celebrities who don’t speak any Spanish at all. Some of them have even recorded albums or performed roles in Spanish! Let’s check some of them out below.

1. Eva Longoria

Instagram @evalongoria


Actress Eva Longoria recently posted on Instagram about rediscovering her roots in Asturias, Spain, as part of the PBS special Faces of America. However, even though her family traces its roots back to Spain for generations, the Latina hottie speaks only basic Spanish.

2. Selena

Twitter @SelenaLaLeyenda


Born Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, the singer known only as Selena was responsible for the increased popularity of Tejano music in the United States. However, she was never fluent in Spanish- she just learned the lyrics of her songs.  

3. Selena Gomez

Twitter @selenagomez


Texan-born Selena Gomez, who is of Mexican descent, was actually named for pop singer Selena. She also does not speak Spanish- although she asked for a Rosetta Stone language course from Santa last Christmas. She’s most nervous about her accent, but has been able to pick up the vocabulary pretty well.

4. Demi Lovato

Twitter @ddlovato


Another young Texan-born Latina pop star is Demi Lovato, who was born Demetria Devonne Lovato. She’s won both an ALMA, and a Latin American Music Award, but does not speak Spanish.

5. Naya Rivera

Instagram @nayarivera


Original Glee star Naya Rivera has spoken openly about her lack of Spanish knowledge, and how she’s only able to speak a handful of phrases. She says she wants to learn so that she can speak Spanish to her children.

6. Carlos Pena, Jr.

Instagram @therealcarlospena


Born to a Spanish and Venezuelan dad and a Dominican mom, Carlos Pena Jr. (who now goes by Carlos Roberto PenaVega) was born in Missouri, and did not grow up speaking Spanish. With the help of wife Alexa Vega, he’s trying to learn.

7. Cameron Diaz

Instagram @camerondiaz


Descended from a long line of Cuban cigar rollers, Cameron Diaz doesn’t speak Spanish but has close ties to her heritage through her dad, Emilio Diaz.

8. Mark Consuelos

Instagram @instasuelos


Mark Consuelos, who regularly post adorable photos with wife Kelly Ripa, was actually born in Zaragoza, Spain, to an Italian mom and a Mexican dad, but moved to the States before he learned how to speak Spanish.

9. Christina Aguilera

Twitter @xtina


This talented, part-Ecuadorian songstress has a Spanish-language album (2000’s Mi Reflejo), but doesn’t fluently speak the language. She was recently featured as a guest on Alejandro Fernández’s song “Hoy Tengo Ganas de Ti”.

10. Miguel

Instagram @miguel

Even though he released a full Spanish album earlier in 2018, Miguel has been singing in Spanish since 2015. He’s been practicing the language since 2012, but isn’t exactly fluent.

11. Bella Thorne

Instagram @bellathorne


Bella Thorne is a triple-threat- she can sing, act, and she’s an author. The part-Cuban model still understands Spanish (it’s what her parents spoke to her when she was little) but doesn’t use it much anymore.

READ: Here’s A Sassy List Of Bella Thorne’s Dating History

12. Jessica Alba

Instagram @jessicaalba


Born to Mexican-American and Dutch-French parents, Jessica Alba never learned Spanish because her grandfather made the decision to teach his children only English. She recently hired a private tutor, and has made an effort to watch Spanish-language TV and movies to improve her vocabulary.

13. Ryan Guzman

Instagram @ryanaguzman


Step Up star Ryan Guzman was born in Abilene, Texas, and recently announced he was expecting a baby with his girlfriend, Brazilian actress Chrysti Ane. Guzman’s dad is Mexican-American, but he doesn’t speak Spanish.

14. America Ferrera

Twitter @AmericaFerrera


Ugly Betty actress and activist America Ferrera proves that you can still be a positive Latina role model without speaking Spanish. Born in Los Angeles to Honduran parents, Ferrera actually went by her middle name, Georgine, until she started acting professionally.

15. James Roday

Twitter @JamesRoday


Psych actor James Roday, who was born James Rodriguez, grew up in Texas, and recently said in an interview that he would be celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month by brushing up on his Spanish.

16. Melissa De Sousa

Instagram @1melissadesousa


Panamanian-American actress Melissa De Sousa commented to Latina magazine that she feels terrible that she didn’t grow up speaking Spanish. As an adult, she’s taken lots of classes, and has practiced extensively to try and become fluent.

17. Emilio Estévez

Instagram @emilio.estevez


1980s Brat Pack member Emilio Estevez is the son of actor Martin Sheen, who was actually born Ramón Estévez, and is of Galician Spanish heritage through his father. Emilio never learned his grandfather’s native tongue, but remains close to his deeply religious family.

18. Charlie Sheen

Instagram @charliesheen


Emilio Estevez’s brother, Charlie Sheen, is the only one of the family of actors who took their dad’s stage last name as his own. Two and a Half Men actor Charlie Sheen was born Carlos Irwin Estévez. Although he owns a bar in Mexico, Sheen doesn’t speak Spanish, but he has said that he thinks he would be able to learn it.

19. Evelyn Lozada

Instagram @evelynlozada


Basketball Wives’ Evelyn Lozada, who recently gave birth to a baby boy, was born in the Bronx, and has said that she has Puerto Rican ancestry. Although her favorite cuisine is Spanish food, and she loves to go to the club to dance salsa or merengue, she is not fluent in Spanish.

20. Stacey Dash

Instagram @staceydash


Actress Stacey Dash (who all millennials will remember from Clueless) is currently learning Spanish, in hopes that it will help her secure more acting roles- and so she can teach her children her mother’s tongue.

21. Lana Parrilla

Instagram @lparrilla


Another starlet that’s currently learning Spanish is Lana Parilla, who is half-Puerto Rican on her father’s side. She says that her Spanish improved when she moved to Spain a few years ago, and was able to use it every day, but since then it’s deteriorated. She makes a point to practice regularly with her friend, actor Esai Morales.

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This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

Entertainment

This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

On a recent episode of ABC’s game show To Tell The Truth, three celebrity panelists were tasked to uncover the identity of a real mariachi singer.

Each contender embodied “non-traditional” attributes of mariachi culture either through physical appearance or language barriers, leaving the panelists stumped.

When it came time for the big reveal, with a humble smile 53-year-old Timoteo “El Charro Negro” stood up wowing everyone. Marveled by his talents, Timoteo was asked to perform unveiling his smooth baritone voice.

While not a household name in the U.S., his career spans over 25 years thriving on the catharsis of music.

Timoteo “El Charro Negro” performing “Chiquilla Linda” on Dante Night Show in 2017.

Originally from Dallas, Texas, Timoteo, born Timothy Pollard, moved to Long Beach, California with his family when he was eight years old. The move to California exposed Pollard to Latin culture, as the only Black family in a Mexican neighborhood.

As a child, he recalled watching Cantinflas because he reminded him of comedian Jerry Lewis, but musically he “got exposed to the legends by chance.”

“I was bombarded by all the 1960s, ’70s, and ’50s ranchera music,” Timoteo recalls to mitú.

The unequivocal passion mariachi artists like Javier Solis and Vicente Fernandez possessed heavily resonated with him.

“[The neighbors] always played nostalgic music, oldies but goodies, and that’s one thing I noticed about Mexicans,” Timoteo says. “They can be in their 20s but because they’ve grown up listening to the oldies it’s still very dear to them. That’s how they party.”

For as long as he can remember, Pollard “was born with the genetic disposition to love music,” knowing that his future would align with the arts.

After hearing Vicente Fernandez sing “Lástima Que Seas Ajena,” an awakening occurred in Pollard. While genres like hip-hop and rap were on the rise, Pollard’s passion for ranchera music grew. It was a moment when he realized that this genre best suited his big voice.

Enamored, Pollard began to pursue a career as a Spanish-language vocalist.

El Charro Negro
Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

At 28, Timoteo began learning Spanish by listening and singing along to those artists he adored in his youth.

“When I decided that I wanted to be a mariachi, I didn’t think it was fair to exploit the culture and not understand the language,” he says. “If I’m going to sing, I need to be able to communicate with my audience and engage with them. I need to understand what I’m saying because it was about honor and respect.”

Pollard began performing local gigs after picking up the language in a matter of months. He soon attracted the attention of “Big Boy” Radio that adorned him the name Timoteo “El Charro Negro.”

Embellishing his sound to highlight his Black heritage, Pollard included African instruments like congas and bongos in his orchestra. Faintly putting his own spin on a niche genre, Pollard avoided over-saturating the genre’s sound early in his career.

Embraced by his community as a beloved mariachi, “El Charro Negro” still encountered race-related obstacles as a Black man in the genre.

“There are those [in the industry] who are not in the least bit thrilled to this day. They won’t answer my phone calls, my emails, my text messages I’ve sent,” he says. “The public at large hasn’t a problem with it, but a lot of the time it’s those at the helm of decision making who want to keep [the genre] exclusively Mexican.”

“El Charro Negro” persisted, slowly attracting fans worldwide while promoting a message of harmony through his music.

In 2007, 12 years into his career, Pollard received a golden ticket opportunity.

El Charro Negro
Pollard (left) seen with legendary Mexican artist Vicente Fernandez (right) in 2007. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In a by-chance encounter with a stagehand working on Fernandez’s tour, Pollard was offered the chance to perform onstage. The singer was skeptical that the offer was legit. After all, what are the chances?

The next day Pollard went to his day job at the time and said, “a voice in my head, which I believe was God said, ‘wear your blue velvet traje tonight.'”

That evening Pollard went to a sold-out Stockton Area where he met his idol. As he walked on the stage, Pollard recalls Fernandez insisting that he use his personal mic and band to perform “De Que Manera Te Olvido.”

“[Fernandez] said he did not even want to join me,” he recollects about the show. “He just was kind and generous enough to let me sing that song on his stage with his audience.”

The crowd applauded thunderously, which for Pollard was a sign of good things to come.

El Charro Negro
Timoteo “El Charro Negro” with Don Francisco on Don Francisco Presenta in 2011. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In 2010, he released his debut album “Me Regalo Contigo.” In perfect Spanish, Pollard sings with great conviction replicating the soft tones of old-school boleros.

Unraveling the rollercoaster of relationships, heart-wrenchingly beautiful ballads like “Me Regalo Contigo” and “Celos” are his most streamed songs. One hidden gem that has caught the listener’s attention is “El Medio Morir.”

As soon as the track begins it is unlike the others. Timoteo delivers a ’90s R&B love ballad in Spanish, singing with gumption as his riffs and belts encapsulate his unique sound and story.

Having appeared on shows like Sabado Gigante, Don Francisco Presenta, and Caso Cerrado in 2011, Timoteo’s career prospered.

Timoteo hasn’t released an album since 2010 but he keeps his passion alive. The singer has continued to perform, even during the Covid pandemic. He has high hopes for future success and original releases, choosing to not slow down from his destined musical journey.

“If God is with me, who can be against me? It may not happen in a quick period of time, but God will make my enemies my footstool,” he said.

“I’ve continued to be successful and do some of the things I want to do; maybe not in a particular way or in particular events, but I live in a very happy and fulfilled existence.”

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Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Entertainment

Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Luis Fonsi is kicking off 2021 with a new single. The Puerto Rican superstar premiered the music video for “Vacío” on Feb. 18 featuring rising Boricua singer Rauw Alejandro. The guys put a new spin on the classic “A Puro Dolor” by Son By Four.

Luis Fonsi throws it back to his románticas.

“I called Omar Alfanno, the writer of ‘A Puro Dolo,’ who is a dear friend,” Fonsi tells Latido Music. “I told him what my idea was [with ‘Vacío’] and he loved it. He gave me his blessing, so I wrote a new song around a few of those lines from ‘A Puro Dolor’ to bring back that nostalgia of those old romantic tunes that have been a part of my career as well. It’s a fresh production. It sounds like today, but it has that DNA of a true, old-school ballad.”

The world got to know Luis Fonsi through his global smash hit “Despacito” with Daddy Yankee in 2017. The remix with Canadian pop star Justin Bieber took the song to new heights. That was a big moment in Fonsi’s music career that spans over 20 years.

There’s more to Fonsi than “Despacito.”

Fonsi released his first album, the fittingly-titled Comenzaré, in 1998. While he was on the come-up, he got the opportunity of a lifetime to feature on Christina Aguilera’s debut Latin album Mi Reflejo in 2000. The two collaborated on “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” Luis Fonsi scored multiple Billboard Hot Latin Songs No. 1s in the years that followed and one of the biggest hits was “No Me Doy Por Vencido” in 2008. That was his career-defining romantic ballad.

“Despacito” remains the second most-viewed music video on YouTube with over 7.2 billion views. The hits did not stop there. Later in 2017, he teamed up with Demi Lovato for “Échame La Culpa,” which sits impressively with over 2 billion views.

He’s also appearing on The Voice next month.

Not only is Fonsi working on his new album, but also he’s giving advice to music hopefuls for the new season of The Voice that’s premiering on March 1. Kelly Clarkson tapped him as her Battle Advisor. In an exclusive interview, Fonsi talked with us about “Vacío,” The Voice, and a few of his greatest hits.

What was the experience like to work with Rauw Alejandro for “Vacío”?

Rauw is cool. He’s got that fresh sound. Great artist. Very talented. Amazing onstage. He’s got that great tone and delivery. I thought he had the perfect voice to fit with my voice in this song. We had talked about working together for awhile and I thought that this was the perfect song. He really is such a star. What he’s done in the last couple of years has been amazing. I love what he brought to the table on this song.

Now I want to go through some of your greatest hits. Do you remember working with Christina Aguilera for her Spanish album?

How could you not remember working with her? She’s amazing. That was awhile back. That was like 1999 or something like that. We were both starting out and she was putting out her first Spanish album. I got to sing a beautiful ballad called “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” I got to work with her in the studio and see her sing in front of the mic, which was awesome. She’s great. One of the best voices out there still to this day.

What’s one of your favorite memories of “No Me Doy Por Vencido”?

“No Me Doy Por Vencido” is one of the biggest songs in my career. I think it’s tough to narrow it down just to one memory. I think in general the message of the song is what sticks with me. The song started out as a love song, but it turned into an anthem of hope. We’ve used the song for different important events and campaigns. To me, that song has such a powerful message. It’s bigger than just a love song. It’s bringing hope to people. It’s about not giving up. To be able to kind of give [people] hope through a song is a lot more powerful than I would’ve ever imagined. It’s a very special song.

I feel the message is very relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic we’re living through.

Oh yeah! I wrote that song a long time ago with Claudia Brant, and during the first or second month of the lockdown when we were all stuck at home, we did a virtual writing session and we rewrote “No Me Doy Por Vencido.” Changing the lyrics, kind of adjusting them to this situation that we’re living now. I haven’t recorded it. I’ll do something with it eventually. It’s really cool. It still talks about love. It talks about reuniting. Like the light at the end of the tunnel. It has the hope and love backbone, but it has to do a lot with what we’re going through now.

What do you think of the impact “Despacito” made on the industry?

It’s a blessing to be a part of something so big. Again, it’s just another song. We write these songs and the moment you write them, you don’t really know what’s going to happen with them. Or sometimes you run into these surprises like “Despacito” where it becomes a global phenomenon. It goes No. 1 in places where Spanish songs had never been played. I’m proud. I’m blessed. I’m grateful to have worked with amazing people like Daddy Yankee. Like Justin Bieber for the remix and everyone else involved in the song. My co-writer Erika Ender. The producers Mauricio Rengifo and Andrés Torres. It was really a team effort and it’s a song that obviously changed my career forever.

What was the experience like to work with Demi Lovato on “Echáme La Culpa”?

She’s awesome! One of the coolest recording sessions I’ve ever been a part of. She really wanted to sing in Spanish and she was so excited. We did the song in Spanish and English, but it was like she was more excited about the Spanish version. And she nailed it! She nailed it from the beginning. There was really not much for me to say to her. I probably corrected her once or twice in the pronunciation, but she came prepared and she brought it. She’s an amazing, amazing, amazing vocalist.

You’re going to be a battle advisor on The Voice. What was the experience like to work with Kelly Clarkson?

She’s awesome. What you see is what you get. She’s honest. She’s funny. She’s talented. She’s humble and she’s been very supportive of my career. She invited me to her show and it speaks a lot that she wanted me to be a part of her team as a Battle Advisor for the new season. She supports Latin music and I’m grateful for that. She’s everything you hope she would be. She’s the real deal, a true star, and just one of the coolest people on this planet.

What can we expect from you in 2021?

A lot of new music. Obviously, everything starts today with “Vacío.” This is literally the beginning of what this new album will be. I’ve done nothing but write and record during the last 10 months, so I have a bunch of songs. Great collaborations coming up. I really think the album will be out probably [in the] third or fourth quarter this year. The songs are there and I’m really eager for everybody to hear them.

Read: We Finally Have A Spanish-Language Song As The Most Streamed Song Of All Time

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