Entertainment

Here’s How Cuban Talk Show Host Cristina Saralegui Changed The Game For Latinos On TV

cristinasaraleguitv / Instagram

If you’re Cuban, or from Miami, you know who Cristina Saralegui is. Your mother would be in the kitchen and make you parrot everything she said on El show de Cristina from the living room. She’s the hetero Ellen Degeneres of Spanish language television, and we haven’t seen her on the TV in almost ten years.

Her show covered controversial topics for its time, including domestic violence, sex abuse and actually covering the AIDS epidemic when no research was being conducted. Let us tell you how she got her start and what she’s up to now.

Cristina Maria Saralegui is an Aquarius.

CREDIT: @DiarioLaPrensa1 / Twitter

Those airy signs can talk with anyone about anything, which is why she could joke around with the likes of Selena, Shakira, Celia Cruz, and so many other superstars. Saralegui was born on January 29, 1948, which means in her early seventies these days.

Saralegui was born in Miramar, Havana, Cuba.

CREDIT: @el_sintweets / Twitter

She’s of Spanish descent from all four grandparents. Cristina has classic oldest sibling vibes, and she’s earned it. She has two younger sisters and two younger brothers.

Her family fled Cuba during the Cuban Revolution in 1960.

CREDIT: @cristinasaraleguitv / Instagram

She was only 12 years old when her parents, Francisco Rene Saralegui, Jr. and Cristina Santamarina, settled down in Key Biscayne.

She graduated fromthe University of Miami.

CREDIT: @CeliaCruzLegacy1 / Twitter

Go ‘Canes! Cristina grew up very Catholic and attended Catholic school all the way until college. After graduating from the Academy of the Assumption in Class of 1966, she was off to Miami proper.

Within 6 years of starting an internship at Vanidades, she was editor of Cosmo.

CREDIT: @peopleenespanol / Twitter

That’s right. She’s said that the internship helped improve her written Spanish. Makes sense that if you suddenly start learning English grammar at age 12, that you’d miss some Spanish lessons. She spent a decade as editor of the Spanish version of Cosmopolitan.

It was in 1989 that she launched her own television show.

CREDIT: @katbeee / Twitter

El show de Cristina was her first shot at television journalism and Univisión was all on board. The show has received 11 Emmy Awards.

The first time Cristina met Celia Cruz, she had an emotional breakdown.

CREDIT: @elnuevoherald / Twitter

According to Cristina’s account on El Nuevo Herald, she said, “I remember that I went to interview her at the Diplomat hotel. I started the interview, but in those days I was very sad because I had lost a pregnancy and something unusual happened to me. Suddenly I started to cry, Celia asked me what was wrong, I told her and she gave me a hug and she consoled me. So much was its human warmth that my defenses collapsed and I crossed a line that I never crossed again with anyone I have interviewed.”

Her signature thumbs up al fin del show is iconic.

CREDIT: @MiamiHerald / Twitter

In classic Cuban Oprah fashion, she’d end every show with this:

“Pa’lante, pa’lante, pa’tras ni pa’ coger impulso”

Which roughly means dale, let’s go, don’t slow down.

Cristina tried to do an English language show, but it was cancelled after half a season.

CREDIT: @sophiaacarvajal / Twitter

It went by Cristina, and she launched it three years after El show de Cristina. I guess in 1992, English speakers had Oprah and Spanish speakers had Cristina y ya.

Cristina used her fame to publish her own magazine, Cristina: La Revista.

CREDIT: @smithsonian / Twitter

She’s also two books in multiple languages, one of which is called “My Life as a Blonde.” Haven’t read it yet, but I’m curious to hear the hardships la rubia life has that could even compete with the hairy morena life.

Cristina’s magazine and career has been lauded by GLAAD for its LGBTQ inclusivity.

CREDIT: @PH_Film / Twitter

In 1997, GLAAD awarded her the Media Vanguard Award, which was followed up 16 years later with the Media Award for Outstanding Magazine. Cristina and her husband have also founded the Arriba La Vida Foundation to promote AIDS awareness and education in the Latinx community.

She was part of the 1999 Class of the Hollywood Walk of Fame stars.

CREDIT: @cristinasaraleguitv / Instagram

She got her star on November 4, 1999, and its well-deserved. From running Cosmo to launching her own television show, magazine, furniture and beauty product lines, Cristina has dominated every industry she’s touched.

Her first ever political endorsement was for Barack Obama’s second run.

CREDIT: @OBAMA4ME / Twitter

She spoke at a rally in Miami, FL, and the crowd went nuts for her. Obviously, her presence worked because we got Obama for another term.

Her brother, Iñaki died in 2017.

CREDIT: @El_Universal_Mx1 / Twitter

He spent 5 months in the hospital after a liver transplant and died from complications.

Caption: “Hermano siempre estarás en mi corazon y en el de toda nuestra familia. Te amo. 👍”

Since retiring from television, she’s always posting about her beloved animals.

CREDIT: @cristinasaraleguitv / Instagram

Like every abuelita in Miami, she loves her cockateels. And her bull dogs. And her Koi.

Caption: “Miren quien se escapó de su jaula. Fígaro se admira en el espejo del comedor. 😃👍”

No really, she even competes in Koi competition shows.

CREDIT: @cristinasaraleguitv / Instagram

Only in Florida can you find the Central Florida Koi show. Cristina and her husband, Marco Avila, former member of the Miami Sound Machine, are very passionate about Koi.

And she has won.

CREDIT: @cristinasaraleguitv / Instagram

Caption: “Felicidades mi amor por ganarte otro campeonato con tus Koi.Central Florida Koi Show. 👍👍👍”

From the looks of the caption, the Saralegui family regularly wins the competition.

Saralegui is an avid orchid gardener.

CREDIT: @cristinasaraleguitv / Instagram

She grows a variety of species in her garden and you know how I know that? She’s constantly posting photos of potted and planted orchids. It’s kind of a Miami thing.

Saralegui has a son, Jon Marcos, with Avila.

CREDIT: @cristinasaraleguitv / Instagram

The two have been married since 1982, and Cristina also has a daughter with her first husband, Tony Menendez. Today, Cristina has grandkids to spoil rotten, gladly.

Saralegui is an outspoken feminist.

CREDIT: @cristinasaraleguitv / Instagram

It all started when her father would only pay for her brother’s education growing up. She’s said that was the moment she decided she couldn’t rely on any man for income.

In 1998, before Beyoncé pulled ‘feminist’ from a list of dirty words, Cristina told the Los Angeles Times, “I’m not afraid to say that I’m a very intelligent woman. [Latinas] cannot say that they’re intelligent. They can be beautiful, but they cannot be intelligent. And they cannot brag about it and say, ‘Yes, damn, I am smart and I am a woman.'”

After her show ended in 2011, annual rumors of her death crop up. She alive.

CREDIT: @briannnaesther / Twitter

In 2015, she told the Miami Herald, “I don’t on plan dying for a while yet. But I’ll let you know. You all will be invited to the funeral.”

Yup. She’s alive and well and you can catch her on her 24/7 Sirius XM talk show.


READ: Rare Celia Cruz Photos Are Adding Sazón To The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery

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The Remarkable Life And Career Of Edward James Olmos, Who Continues To Represent Us Proudly

Entertainment

The Remarkable Life And Career Of Edward James Olmos, Who Continues To Represent Us Proudly

Crosa / Flickr

It’s no secret that the Hollywood industry has a diversity problem. The exclusion of Latinos in the arts was the basis of a study conducted by Professor Stacy L. Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. The results, which were released last month, were dismal. As of 2018 “only 4.5 percent of all 47,268 speaking or named characters across the last 12 years were Latino and a mere 3 percent of lead or co-lead actors.” For Latinos, this news is not a surprise. That is why we hold Latino actors, the few that have gotten the chance to work and especially those that have been in the Hollywood industry for decades, with such high regard. For us, there is one such person that not only has been our representation in Hollwyood but has also told the story of historic Latinos.

Edward James Olmos has led a remarkable career in film and television that spans more than 45 years. 

Credit: kenmjohnson / Instagram

This Mexican-American thespian has 121 acting credits to his name, and that does not include his work on Broadway, as a director, or composer. Within his storied career in Hollywood, Olmos has an estimated 29 awards in his field and 27 nominations. It would surprise some people to know that Olmos had aspirations that didn’t include acting at all.

Olmos was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Boyle Heights and in Montebello, California.

Credit: Pinterest

In a 2013 interview, Olmos said he had a strong work ethic thanks to his parents who were always working. He was raised by his great grandparents and strived to try it all from sports to music and even politics. As a young teen, Olmos wanted to be a baseball player. He also the lead singer of a band. “I really had a strong passion for baseball,” Olmos said, who was first caught up by the sport at age five. But admits he didn’t have the talent for it at such a young age. He said it was the divorce of his parents, around the age of seven, that made him want to dedicate himself to the sport. He said baseball taught him a lot about discipline which helped him understand his capabilities as a person. In 1960, around the age of 15 and 16, Olmos began to have another passion. He wanted to be a rock n’ roll star. Even though he said he couldn’t sing very well, he called himself a performer. For two years that he performed in a rock band, Olmos said his father stopped talking to him because he didn’t approve of his new path. 

After years as a stage actor, his breakthrough role came in 1981 in the film “Zoot Suit.”

Credit: crooked_is_the_path / Instagram

In 1964, while in college, Olmos took his first acting class. He said his discipline of baseball and his passion for singing lead him naturally to consider acting. He said he tried auditioning but always got turned down. He kept at it and studied acting under the greats. He started doing theater in Los Angeles, and in 1978 he got a role in the theater production of “Zoot Suit” about the true story of the 1943 riots in Los Angeles that resulted in the arrests of many Latinos. In 1979, Olmos received a Tony Award nomination for his role of  El Pachuco. In 1981, a film version of the play hit theaters and Olmos comprised as El Pachuco once again. 

In 1988, Olmos portrayed the true story of math teacher Jaime Escalante in the beloved film “Stand and Deliver.”

Credit: brandon_bruce_lee / Instagram

The story depicts how students from  James A. Garfield High School in East Los Angeles overcame immense obstacles to pass AP Calculus tests during their senior year. The film received several Independent Spirit Awards including for Best Male Lead, which Olmos won, and Best Supporting Male for actor Lou Diamond Phillips. Olmos also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. Olmos remembers that role fondly and with emotion. “Nobody wanted to give us a penny to tell the story of a Bolivian man helping kids take a math test,” he said earlier this year to Remezcla.  “Watching my performance, I realized what he gave us, it was like catching lightning in a bottle and we did it.” 

Today, Olmos continues to have a stellar body of work from “Battlestar Galactica” to “Portlandia” and “Mayans M.C.”

Some of his most recognized roles including in “Selena,” “Blade Runner,” “American Me,” and “My Family” and the work he is doing today on television has solidified Olmos as an icon in Hollywood and within the Latin community. 

“In 1964, when I started out we weren’t 22 percent of the population of the U.S, we were much less. We were also less than 2 percent of all the content in television and film. Today, with 22 percent of the population, we are still less than 4 percent of all content. We are in a worse place now,” he said. While that is an unfortunate fact, we’re still so thrilled and proud that he continues to represent us today. 

READ: 30 Years After Being Released, Here’s Where The Cast Of ‘Stand And Deliver’ Are Today

Disney Is Debuting Their First Jewish Princess And Surprise! She’s Also Latina

Entertainment

Disney Is Debuting Their First Jewish Princess And Surprise! She’s Also Latina

We all know by now that is no “one way” to be Latinx. Latinos come in a variety of forms, from Black to white, tall to short, descended from Indigenous, African, and European populations. And while Roman Catholicism may be the dominant religion in most of Latinidad, it goes without saying that Latino culture is not a monolith. Latinos practice a variety of religions, from Islam to Buddhism to, yes, Judaism. 

And while most people don’t necessarily think of Judaism when they think of Latin America, there is, in fact, a small but proud population of Jewish Latinos who keep their culture alive through tradition and a strong sense of community. But being a part of such a small community within an already-marginalized community can feel isolating at times. Especially when there are no public role models to see yourself reflected in.

That’s why Tuesday’s news that Disney is debuting a Jewish-Latinx princess sent shock-waves through the internet. 

Walt Disney Television Animation News announced via Twitter that an upcoming Elena of Avalon episode in December would be featuring a “visiting princess” from a “Latino Jewish kingdom”.The as-yet-unnamed princess will be voiced by Jamie-Lynn Sigler, the actress famous for her portrayal of Meadow Soprano on HBO’s seminal masterpiece, “The Sopranos”. 

The Tweet also revealed that the princess would also make an appearance in Elana’s “royal coronation special” next year. Although we do not know any further details of Sigler’s character or her storyline, “Elena of Avalor” writer Rachel Ruderman gave a small preview of what’s to come. “A little over a year ago, I had the honor of writing an Elena of Avalor episode featuring Disney’s first Jewish princess,” Ruderman said via Twitter. She continued: “Jamie Lynn Sigler knocks the role out of the park (wait ’till you hear her song!) Can’t wait to share this one”.

In a move of conscious-casting on Disney’s part, Jamie Lynn Sigler herself happens to be both Latina and Jewish–a giant step for a media giant that can sometimes miss the mark with casting.

Raised by a Jewish father and a Cuban mother, Sigler grew up in New York City as part of a multicultural family.In the past, Sigler has talked about being raised Jewish–attending Hebrew school, having a Bat Mitzvah, and even going on a Birth Right trip to Israel in 2008. 

This episode can serve as an educational experience for many people (including those of Latinx descent) who are unaware that Jewish Latinos even exist. In fact, what some people might not even know, is that the term “Sephardic” (a term used to describe Jewish people of European descent) literally means “of Spain or Portuguese descent” in old Hebrew. In other words, it’s not a stretch to imagine a character of both Latin and Jewish roots on our TV screens. In fact, it’s completely historically plausible!

Naturally, both the Latinx and Jewish Twitter population is super excited at this groundbreaking news.

As we mentioned before, the acknowledgment of Jewish Latinos in popular culture is such a rarity. When the media shines a spotlight on such a marginalized group of people, the advent is worth celebrating. And even though changes are slow in the making, any progress on the representation front is a step in the right direction.

Jamie Lynn Sigler herself expressed her excitement at the news, calling to attention the novelty of her position:

Yes, it’s exciting that the Jewish Latinx population has finally gotten some princess representation, but it’s still a little bit frustrating that we had to wait until 2019 for a Jewish princess. We have a long way to go.

This Latina Jew was incredibly excited at the prospect of having the chance to see her own unique lifestyle reflected onscreen:

The self-styled “Jewyorican” is one of many New York-based Puerto-Rican Jews who identify fully with both cultures. It’s not as rare as people think.

Some Latinx Jews took to Twitter to give some suggestions on how Disney could go about bringing the new character to life:

This Hispanic Linguistics Professor suggested incorporating the ancient Judeo-Spanish language of Ladino into the show. 

This multi-cultural woman celebrated the inclusion of multiple cultures in one character:

Families like hers are the way of the future–at least according to statistics. Although many media outlets still see American families in black and white, the rest of us living our lives know that our identities are increasingly a hodgepodge of cultures. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.