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Latina Journalist Who Paved Way For Latinxs In Newsrooms Dies After Battle With Cancer

Cecilia Alvear, former president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and longtime NBC producer, succumbed to a long battle with breast cancer on Friday and died at the age of 77. Alvear is touted for advocating for Latinos in the newsroom and for being a groundbreaking journalist.

Alvear, born in Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, began her career as a production assistant at KNBC in 1971 in Los Angeles. Media Moves reports that Alvear was the first Latina news producer at any of the three major TV networks, when NBC hired her to run their Mexico City bureau in 1982. There she covered wars in Central America, the unrest in Chile, Peru, Colombia and Bolivia, and earthquakes in Mexico City, El Salvador and Ecuador.” She also produced interviews with Fidel Castro in Cuba.

“She was a dedicated journalist, a champion for diversity, and a socially-conscious individual whose generosity of spirit made her a selfless and incredible friend,” Media Moves reports. “Her death is a great loss for those who knew and loved her and for those whose path she helped pave.”

Credit: CNN Money / YouTube

Alvear was also the first Latina selected for a Nieman fellowship at Harvard University in 1988. In 2007, she retired as a producer for NBC.

“I met Cecilia in 1982 when she was sent, as an NBC producer at the height of the Cold War, to run the war coverage of NBC in Latin America,” Los Angeles Times Latin America reporter Anne-Marie O’Connor said to LA Observed. “At the time it was rare to even meet a female producer, much less an Ecuadorian-born Latina who spoke English with an accent. Cecilia broke the mold.”

Read more about Alvear’s achievements here.

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20 Things to Know About Tony Award Winner Lindsay Mendez

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20 Things to Know About Tony Award Winner Lindsay Mendez

If you don’t follow Broadway closely, you might not have heard the name Lindsay Mendez until she stepped on stage to receive her Tony Award at Sunday’s ceremony. As she gave her heartwarming speech, accepting the award for Featured Actress in a Musical for her role as Carrie Pipperidge, a late-1800s millworker in New England, tears undoubtedly came to the eyes of many Latinx theater fans as she described her early life in New York City and why she is proud “to be a part of a community that celebrates diversity and individuality” after ignoring advice to whitewash her last name.

But the Mexican-American actress from California (who is also of Russian Jewish descent) isn’t a total newcomer. In fact, she has had such eponymous roles as Elphaba in “Wicked” and Jan in “Grease.” But with her Tony Award fresh in her hands, she has officially stepped into the spotlight as only a few Latinx theater actors have before. Want to get to know her? From her upbringing in Orange Country to her past work on the Great White Way, here are 20 things that you should know about Tony Award-winning actress Lindsay Mendez.

1. She was advised to whitewash her last name when she moved to New York.

CREDIT: Photo: Lindsay Mendez/Instagram

“When I moved to New York, I was told to change my last name from Mendez to Matthews or I wouldn’t work,” she said during her acceptance speech on Sunday night. “And I just want to say how proud I am to be a part of a community that celebrates diversity and individuality.”

2. She is only the 6th Latina in Tony Awards history to win an award.

CREDIT: PHOTO: Lindsay Mendez/Instagram

Previous Latina Tony winners include Rita Moreno (Featured Actress in a Play for “The Ritz” in 1975), Chita Rivera (Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018), Priscilla Lopez (Featured Actress in a Musical for “A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine” in 1980), Sara Ramirez (Featured Actress in a Musical for “Spamalot” in 2005), and Karen Olivo (Featured Actress in a Musical for “West Side Story” in 2009).

3. She is of Mexican descent and was born in California.

CREDIT: PHOTO: Lindsay Mendez/Instagram

Although she is originally from Norwalk, California, she is actually of Mexican and Russian Jewish descent.

4. She received news of her nomination while at home in her pajamas.

CREDIT: PHOTO: Lindsay Mendez/Instagram

“I was at home in bed in my pajamas,” she said in an interview with NBC Latino. “Then so many people called to tell me the news that my phone basically died. I had been thinking that maybe it (a nomination) could happen, but I didn’t want to jinx it.”

5. She has appeared in “Wicked,” “Grease,” and “Godspell” before her Tony Award-winning role in “Carousel.”

CREDIT: PHOTO: Lindsay Mendez/Instagram

According to Internet Broadway Database, her previous roles include Elphaba in “Wicked,” Jan in “Grease,” Dance Captain in “Everyday Rapture,” as part of the ensemble cast in “Godspell,” Laura in “Significant Other,” and finally Carrie Pipperidge in “Carousel.”

6. She encouraged other performers to be their true selves.

CREDIT: PHOTO: Lindsay Mendez/Instagram

“To all of you artists out there, just be your true self and the world will take note!” she said during her speech.

7. She is a vlogger for Broadway.com.

CREDIT: PHOTO: Lindsay Mendez/Instagram

You can watch her videos here.

8. She actually considered changing her name to Lindsay Matthews.

CREDIT: PHOTO: Lindsay Mendez/Instagram

“I was going to change [my name] to Lindsay Matthews, this is true,” she said backstage at the Tony Awards. “At that time, when I moved here, there weren’t that many Latina actresses. I thought that my grandparents would be so devastated. They worked so hard to get me here. I thought, either they’re going to like what I’m doing or what I’m not.”

9. She’s very proud of being a Mexican woman playing in a Broadway show set in New England.

CREDIT: PHOTO: Lindsay Mendez/Instagram

“When I came here, I didn’t see anyone who looked like me on Broadway. I just knew I had to stay true to myself,” she told NBC News. “Now here I am, a Mexican woman playing a role in ‘Carousel,’ set in New England, with a hugely diverse cast. That is exciting to me. Just because I am Latina doesn’t mean I can only play one character.”

10. She never thought she would have to hone a Maine accent.

CREDIT: PHOTO: Lindsay Mendez/Instagram

“Just because you’re a minority, doesn’t mean you only have to play roles that are set to be a minority,” she said during the Tony Awards backstage press conference. “I love getting to play this crazy Maine girl in New England — an accent I’d never thought I’d have to hone.”

11. She has big plans for her future career on Broadway.

CREDIT: PHOTO: Lindsay Mendez/Instagram

During the Tony Awards press conference, she admitted that her dream roles are “Flora, the Red Menace” or Winifred in “Once Upon a Mattress.”

12. She never studied jazz, despite being known for it in her cabaret work.

CREDIT: PHOTO: Lindsay Mendez/Instagram

“I never studied jazz. I never even went to college. I began buying music and educating myself on it and I ended up buying a lot of jazz,” she said in an interview with Stage Rush. “I was really into Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, and Sarah Vaughn. I just started hoarding this music. By hearing it, I’d wonder if it was something I could do. I’ve learned to do it and it’s really fun. Getting to scat is not a common thing in musical theater, but I’ve gotten to do it a lot. It’s really great to flex my muscles and see if I can make it work in the context. I don’t ever want it to be masturbatory. It has to fit and be exactly right.”

13. She’s proud to be part of such a diverse cast that makes late-1800s Maine look like America today.

CREDIT: PHOTO: Lindsay Mendez/Instagram

“I probably feel a little bit more strongly about that because I happen to be Mexican,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “I think that people want to come and see that all types of people are represented in theater. I think it would be irresponsible to not do that. I heard a statistic yesterday that only 2% of Actors’ Equity members who are working are Latino, and that just hit me so hard. When shows like ‘In the Heights’ or ‘Evita’ or ‘West Side Story’ aren’t running, Hispanic people aren’t getting that much of a chance.”

14. Before her Tony Award, she was already a winner.

CREDIT: PHOTO: Lindsay Mendez/Instagram

Before the Tony Awards this Sunday, Mendez already won a Drama Desk Award and an Outer Critics Circle Award for her role as Carrie Pipperidge in “Carousel.”

15. She started acting at a very young age.

CREDIT: PHOTO: Lindsay Mendez/Instagram

“My sister did a production of ‘Annie,’ and I remember — I think I was 3 or 4 years old — I just screamed to my mom that I wanted to do that,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “So my mom put me in dance class pretty early on, 4 or 5 years old. And I started studying voice when I was 6. I pretty much always just wanted to do this.”

16. She co-founded Actor Therapy in 2012.

CREDIT: PHOTO: Lindsay Mendez/Instagram

This organization, which is a training and mentorship program that she co-founded with Rso, has been “over the moon” about Mendez’s success.

17. You might see her in a film soon.

CREDIT: PHOTO: Lindsay Mendez/Instagram

Although she has appeared in TV’s “Smash” in the past (playing herself in 2013 episode “The Transfer”), she is considering TV or a film in her future. “I’m only interested in things that scare the hell out of me, that feel like a huge challenge. So maybe TV or a film,” she told the Los Angeles Times.

18. She’s used to relating to the roles she plays.

CREDIT: PHOTO: Lindsay Mendez/Instagram

In “Godspell,” she played a character named Lindsay too and told Stage Rush that “there aren’t many things that differ from her and I and it’s been really fun to have the audience get to know who I really am.” But even before then, she admits that it’s not strange to her. “I feel like I always bring a huge part of myself to any role I play. In ‘Everyday Rapture,’ I played myself as well, in a way. I’m kind of used to playing myself. It’s not as foreign to me.”

19. She met her husband because of “Wicked”… sort of.

CREDIT: PHOTO: Lindsay Mendez/Instagram

“After [playing Elphaba in] “Wicked” [on Broadway] I went out to Kansas City [where her husband Philip Wakefield lived] for the world premiere of this new musical by Nick Blaemire called “A Little More Alive” at Kansas City Rep,” she told Playbill.com. “On my last week there I really wanted to go see jazz music, so I found this jazz club called The Green Lady online, and since I had just played the green lady [in “Wicked”] it felt like the right place to go. Philip was playing the drums there.” The two married in May 2016.

20. She feels lucky that other Latinos get to see her on stage and feel inspired.

CREDIT: PHOTO: Lindsay Mendez/Instagram

“Sometimes Latin people come and see me at the stage door, and say they are happy to see someone like them on stage,” she said to NBC News. “So I feel lucky to be part of this theatrical community — and to be honored and accepted here in this way.”


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Afraid Of Being Trolled, She Hadn’t Posted A Full-Body Picture Until College And Now She’s A Fashion Blogger

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Afraid Of Being Trolled, She Hadn’t Posted A Full-Body Picture Until College And Now She’s A Fashion Blogger

Instagram/@thisisjessicatorres

The fashion world is finally starting to realize real women aren’t just skinny models.

Thanks to plus-size models such as Denise Bidot, Ashley Graham and Alessandra Garcia, the fashion industry is refreshingly featuring more women of color with various body types.

Instagram/@denisebidot @theashleygraham @alessandragl
CREDIT: Instagram/@denisebidot @theashleygraham @alessandragl

These women exude confidence and are proud to show off their body despite their size — which is why the term “body positive” has exploded.

One of the most down-to-earth style bloggers that is revolutionizing the way we see fashion and body positivity is Jessica Torres.

This 26-year-old Ecuadorian from the Bronx is upping the style game in an incredible way on Instagram and YouTube. In five short years, she’s gone from former retail clerk to style blogger, body positive and fashion reporter at Revelist.

But let’s back track a little. If you’re unfamiliar with the term body positive, here’s roughly what it means:

That time I wore my pjs out and about ?

A post shared by Jessica Torres (@thisisjessicatorres) on

Mallorie Dunn, founder of the body positive fashion line SmartGlamour, told Psychology Today that this relatively new term means “accepting the body you have as well as the changes in shape, size, and ability it may undergo due to nature, age, or your own personal choices throughout your lifetime.” In other words, being body positive is “understanding that your worth and what’s going on with you physically are two separate entities.”

For Torres, being body positive was a way to cope with her own insecurities.

“I can’t remember when I realized that bo-po had become a cultural phenomenon because it was who I was, or at least who I had become, “Torres tells mitú. “Before body positivity was the cool thing, it was the way I was surviving in this world. It made me realize that you are worth more than your body and that size of your jeans does not determine your worth.”

Torres tells mitú that growing up, she always felt embarrassed about her body.

#SassySaturday so clearly I've been crop top crazy since I was a child. #posingsincethe90s #bloggerpractice #ithoughtiwastheshit

A post shared by Jessica Torres (@thisisjessicatorres) on

“People would always compare me to my sisters and friends,” Torres says. “I was taught at a really young age that to be beautiful and successful I had to be thin. That really halted a lot in my life. I always thought that the day I lost weight and became thin I would be happy and successful. I would wear big baggy t-shirts and jeans that were two sizes too big to make sure I hid my body.”

Torres says that it wasn’t until she got to college that she had an awakening of confidence thanks to people she met there.

“When I got to college I met friends who were unapologetically themselves and made me realize that I could start living my best life now, not 10 or 50 pounds later,” Torres tells mitú. “I also discovered fashion blogs at that time and I became obsessed. I would go onto these blogs and save the pictures hoping they would encourage me to be brave enough to wear something bold and not be embarrassed about my body.”

Two years into college, Torres decided she was ready and confident enough to take the brave step and take a full body picture and post it online.

#tbt missing the summer

A post shared by Jessica Torres (@thisisjessicatorres) on

Torres credits her mom and sisters for continuing to support and motivate the work she does today. But also, Torres says, she wants to inspire little girls that need someone to look up to, just as she needed while growing up.

“I realized that I needed to be the role model that I needed when I was younger…”

Torres tells mitú that she wanted to be someone who could’ve told her that she could be “fat and fashionable, happy and successful” and that’s why she started blogging.

That determination has taken her to great heights including speaking at SXSW this year on a panel titled “Rise of the ‘Real Girl,’” and this is clearly just the beginning for her.

In the past couple of years, she’s gotten lots of attention from various fashion magazine and blogs.

Part of being an online personality means Torres is gaining new friends and fans.

She killed the look, just like Torres, don’t you think?

She’s even famous in Puerto Rico!

Facebook/Darlene Lebron
CREDIT: Facebook/Darlene Lebron

On a recent trip to Puerto Rico for an event, Torres was humbled by all the women that approached her with gratitude.

“I was so shocked to have so many people there waiting to see me and talk to me,” Torres said. “They mentioned the videos and stories I’ve written. I couldn’t believe it. The best part was to hear their stories of how because of my videos they decided to start their journey of self-love. One of them had even worn a two-piece swimsuit for the first time and showed me pictures.”

But of course, along with fans, will come the haters.

Still not over this look. #anythingforselenas

A post shared by Jessica Torres (@thisisjessicatorres) on

“The hardest thing about being online is the negativity I get,” Torres says. “A lot of the things I do is to set an example for other men and women who are afraid to do things like wearing a swimsuit, crop top, form-fitting dress or even a sleeveless shirt. So I constantly put pictures of my body online and all of a sudden my body becomes the subject of discussion for many. People forget that the people online have feelings and emotions. I don’t personally get bothered by what they say but when my siblings or family see it and get offended that’s when it bothers me.”

Seeing the good and bad that comes with being a body positive style blogger, what does Torres tell aspiring people who want to do the same thing that she does?

Wearing this cute outfit via @gwynniebee. Tap for details.

A post shared by Jessica Torres (@thisisjessicatorres) on

“If you are interested in becoming a style blogger you should know that this is harder than it looks,” Torres says. “Find the reason why you want to do this, find your message and stick to it. Work hard and make a lot of connections with as many people as you can.”


READ: This Latina Model Has A Growing Clothing Line For ALL Women

What do you think about body positivity? Share this story and comment in the section below! 

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