Entertainment

Isabela Merced Is Making a Seamless Transition From Child Star to Pop Star with Her New Single “Papi”

Say goodbye to Dora the Explorer–at least for now. Isabela Merced, formerly known as Isabela Moner, has reinvented herself from child star to bonafide pop singer. On Wednesday, Merced debuted the music video for her new single “Papi”, a girl-power anthem that’s inspired by “salsa, reggaeton, cumbia, and bachata”. According to Merced, she hopes the song will get the message across to womanizing men that they should “treat ladies with the respect they deserve”.

The new music video is impressive not only because it shows a more grown-up version of Merced (who we’ve seen since her Nickelodeon days) but also because it celebrates her Peruvian culture. In the video, we see Merced dressed in both American and Peruvian-style clothes, dancing to choreography that is reminiscent of stand American hip-hop moves as well as the traditional Peruvian dance known as the Marinera. Merced, for her part, is proud of the aesthetic her newest music video embodies: “I want to introduce everyone to the rich culture of my family’s heritage,” she said in a recent interview with Teen Vogue.

Credit: @idolator/Twitter

The transformation from Nickelodeon actor to superstar in the making was arguably kickstarted with Isabela’s decision to change her last name from “Moner” to “Merced”.

After all, 2019 has been a very big year for Merced. Not only did she star in the blockbuster film “Dora and the Lost City of Gold”, but she also revealed that her mother has been  privately battling breast cancer. According to Merced, the decision to change her last name came from the desire to honor family–especially her Peruvian heritage. The name Merced comes from her late grandmother, Yolanda Merced Salazar Pittman. “I believe some force, throughout all these years, has been giving my mom the strength and determination to guide me,” she told Refinery29. “I feel as though if that guardian angel would be anyone, it would be my grandma.”

So, while some child actors struggle to make the transition from child entertainer to serious adult actor, Merced makes the entire process look easy. While the music video for “Papi” has its sultry moments, it doesn’t seem to be trying too hard to prove anything. Yes, there’s a love interest who makes an appearance in the video–but the entire song isn’t just devoted to a man. “’Papi’ is empowering to girls. [It] has sass and confidence,” she says. With lyrics like “Or did I forget to mention?/Don’t like frivolous affection/I don’t want it on the first date or third date…I’m never gonna call you papi/Even if it makes you happy,” the song celebrates to independent women of the world who refuse to change themselves to make a man happy. 

Credit: @playintoit/Twitter

According to Merced, the bilingual bop is just the beginning of her exploring the world of Spanish-language music. 

Merced, who was born to a Peruvian mother and a white American father, has previously been candid about growing up bilingual in a multicultural household. “I want my music to represent who I am…I grew up with a white dad and a Latinx mom, who was an immigrant. That is who I am. It’s okay to be a mix…Us mixed kids have a place in this society, and Spanglish songs do as well,” she told Refinery29.

It’s refreshing to see such representation for multicultural Latinos who grew up in a multi-racial family. The reality is, many Latinos feel equally comfortable speaking two languages, especially if one parent is non-Latino. According to the Pew Center for research, almost 7% of Americans identify as mixed-race, and that number will continue to grow. In other words: Isabela Merced is definitely onto something.

Credit: @Z100NewYork/Twitter

Of course, Merced’s fans have been going crazy on Twitter over her Latina-and-proud music video.

Like Christina Aguilera before her, this child star is embracing all aspects of her identity and people are pumped.

Peruvians are 100% here for Merced showing some love for their country:

It’s always exciting to see your culture recognized in the media.

This Peruvian sees the music video as a beautiful “tribute”:

You can definitely feel the love that went into the making of this music video purely from its attention to detail. 

Many people are praising “Papi” for supporting bilingual and multiracial representation:

A lot of people don’t recognize that there’s no one “right” way to be Latinx. For many Latinos in America, Spanglish is a way of life. 

Of course, there are also the stans who are just in awe of Isabela Merced’s raw talent:

Seriously, is there anything this girl can’t do? We’ll wait.

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Billboard’s Latin Music Week Starts Tomorrow And These Are The ‘Can’t Miss’ Events You Can Join For Free

Entertainment

Billboard’s Latin Music Week Starts Tomorrow And These Are The ‘Can’t Miss’ Events You Can Join For Free

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Billboard’s annual Latin Music Week has finally arrived and this year is extra special since it’s the 30th anniversary of the annual event. Not to mention the entire lineup of events – from concerts to Q&As – has gone virtual, making it easier than ever for you and me to join in.

Already the event schedule looks incredible, including a live Q&A with Jennifer Lopez and Maluma about Latin musics path to Hollywood.

So if you’re finding yourself bored at home (as so many of us continue social distancing) this is the perfect roundup of events to keep us entertained.

Billboard’s Latin Music Week starts today and it promises to be a one stop shop for music fans.

With all of us being cooped up at home still, this year’s Billboard Latin Music Week is hotly anticipated. The four-day immersive experience officially starts today (Tuesday, October 20) and will be dedicated to Latin music, culture, and entertainment.

And this yer is extra special because Billboard is celebrating it’s 30th birthday for the annual event, making it the longest running and biggest Latin music industry event. And this year for the first time ever it will be completely virtual, meaning you can easily join in on the intimate artist conversations, industry panels, workshops, and performances.

According to Leila Cobo, a VP at Billboard, “Latin music has become a formidable and undeniable uniting force around the world, so it’s fitting that this year’s virtual Latin Music Week will be globally accessible at no cost to the industry and fans for the first time. She added that “Our virtual event will allow us to connect with fans and artists from all over the world no matter where they are. During these very difficult times, we are thrilled to extend an invitation to all who wish to celebrate Latin music and culture.”

The week will be full of immersive events and online concerts that you won’t want to miss.

For the first time in its 30 years of existence, Billboard Latin Music Week will take place virtually, from Oct. 20-23, meaning that you can easily join in on all the events.

So far, Billboard has confirmed a long list of panels, performances, workshops and Q&As – including one with Jennifer Lopez and Maluma. And performances by Pharrel Williams, Anuel AA, Ozuna, J Balvin, Maluma, Becky G, Los Tigres Del Norte, and many others. You can get a look at the full lineup of events here.

The craziest/best part – it’s completely free! But you have to RSVP so make sure you sign up for your spot here.

This year’s events coincide with this year’s Billboard Latin Music Awards broadcasting live on Oct. 21 via Telemundo, with awards to be given out in 59 categories honoring the top artists, songs, albums, labels, publishers, songwriters, and producers of the year.

It’s hard to believe but Billboard is celebrating 30 years of Latin Music Week and looking back on stars before they were megastars.

Since this year marks the 30th anniversary of Latin Music Week, Billboard is taking a look back – way back. The music entertainment giant has put together a playlist of video interviews with stars before they became global sensations.

For example, Maluma’s interview from 2015 just as he was beginning to get mainstream recognition. OMG…that baby face!

Bad Bunny also has an old interview on the site from 2017 (ok…not that long ago) and he looks so different and even sounds so different. It’s so cool to look back on these artists and spot the differences.

Billboard has even put together the ultimate playlist to help commemorate the special week!

Featuring hits from all of this year’s top Billboard Latin Music Award contenders, this playlist is pure fire and will definitely hype you up – which is much needed since we’re all still staying at home amid this major spike in Coronavirus cases.

Remember, the events start today and you can get the full schedule and RSVP here.

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Imagine Having Machu Picchu All To Yourself – That’s What One Man Got After Being Stuck In Peru For Seven Months

Things That Matter

Imagine Having Machu Picchu All To Yourself – That’s What One Man Got After Being Stuck In Peru For Seven Months

Gustavo Basso / Getty Images

One of the most dreaded side effects of the global Coronavirus pandemic, is that it took with it our travel plans. Whether we were simply set to have weekends at the beach, visit our abuelos in Mexico, or go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip across the world, so many of us have seen our travel plans taken away.

Well, one traveler made it across the world to fulfill his lifelong dream of seeing Machu Picchu but as soon as he arrived, so too did the pandemic. He became stuck in foreign country and couldn’t travel or see the sights he had hoped to visit.

As Peru has slowly reopened, this now world-famous traveler is being known as the first person to see Machu Picchu post-lockdown and he got to do so all by himself.

One lucky traveler got to experience the city of Machu Picchu all by himself.

Peru’s famous Machu Picchu ruins, closed for months due to the coronavirus pandemic, reopened on Monday for one lucky Japanese tourist after he spent months stranded in the country due to global travel restrictions.

In a video first reported by The Guardian, Jesse Takayama shared his immense gratitude for being allowed to visit the ancient Incan city – which had long been one of his dreams. Months ago he had arrived in a small town near the Incan city, where he has remained ever since because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Peru’s Minister of Culture, Alejandro Neyra, said at a press conference that “He [Takayama] had come to Peru with the dream of being able to enter. The Japanese citizen has entered together with our head of the park so that he can do this before returning to his country.” Talk about a once in a lifetime experience.

Neyra went on to add that this really was a rare moment and that Takayama only received access after submitting a special request to the local tourism authority.

In an Instagram post about his special access, Takayama said that “Machu Picchu is so incredible! I thought I couldn’t go but many people asked the government. I’m the first one to visit Machu Picchu after lockdown!”

Takayama had been stuck in Peru since March when the country shut down its borders because of the pandemic.

Takayama arrived to Peru in March and promptly bought his pass to the ancient city but little did he know the world (and his plans) would come to a screeching halt. Peru was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic (and continues to struggle) and was forced to close its borders and institute a strict lockdown.

Peru was forced to implement drastic COVID-19 restrictions on travel including an end to all incoming international flights earlier this year, which only relaxed this month after the nation’s rate of new COVID-19 cases began declining in August.

The last statement posted on the Machu Picchu website, dated from July, says that “the Ministries of Culture and Foreign Trade and Tourism are coordinating the prompt reopening of Machu Picchu”.

Peru’s Machu Picchu is one of the world’s most visited tourist attractions.

The country’s Minister of Culture, Neyra, stressed that “the reopening of Machu Picchu is important for Peruvians, as a symbol of national pride and also as a budget issue, because it is one of the places that generates the most income for the culture sector.”

The BBC reports that the Inca stronghold, a Unesco world heritage site since 1983, is expected to reopen at reduced capacity next month. 

More than 1.5 million people make the pilgrimage to the Inca city annually. In 2017, Unesco threatened to place the famous ruins on its list of endangered heritage sites because of fears about overcrowding; Peruvian authorities subsequently brought in measures to control the flow of tourists and visitor numbers were capped at around 2,240 per day.

Peru is still experiencing one of the region’s worst outbreaks of Coronavirus.

After beginning a phased reopening, Peru has started to see its contagion rate increase in recent days. The country still faces one of the worst outbreaks in South America, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

“We are still in the middle of a pandemic,” Neyra added. “It will be done with all the necessary care.”

Peru has recorded just over 849,000 total cases of COVID-19, and 33,305 deaths since the pandemic began.

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