Amigos del español

Antonio Banderas

Antonio Banderas has appeared in almost 70 films during his career, both as a “ chico Almodóvar” (Almodóvar boy) and as a Hollywood star.  But this 46-year-old native of the southern Spanish city of Málaga says that he gets the most satisfaction from reading a good book, that and lending his voice to the character Puss in Boots in “Shrek 2” and the soon-to-be-released “Shrek the Third”.

America Ferrera

America Ferrera feels doubly proud at having succeeded precisely for those things that seemed to guarantee her failure as an actress. Being Hispanic and with a form more voluptuous than the skeletal shapes that dominate Hollywood’s idea of beauty, this daughter of a Honduran mother at 22 has shown how wrong they were, first in movies with her debut in “Real Women Have Curves” and now on television as the adorable “Ugly Betty” who has everyone in love with her. 

Salma Hayek

Few Mexican actresses come to Hollywood with the determination that Salma Hayek had, and still less do they succeed in being nominated for an Oscar as Best Actress.  She did it with “Frida,” and the nomination rewarded the efforts of this actress born in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, and honored her for going beyond the limits set by her origins and even her own beauty. Hayek at 38 still wants to do more, and besides her career as an actress, the voluptuous Mexican alternates her work with directing and producing, a field in which she has brought the series “Ugly Betty” to life.

Edward James Olmos

An actor, producer, director and social activist, Edward James Olmos has taken a leading role in encouraging young Hispanics to improve their lot in life through education.  As a young child he wanted to become a professional baseball player and in his teenage years dreamed of being a rock star, but instead it was acting – and his roles in the movie “Blade Runner” and the TV series “ Miami Vice” – that proved to be his ticket to stardom. Now approaching the age of 60, Olmos – a onetime UNICEF ambassador and co-founder of the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival – prefers to be known as someone dedicated to ensuring everyone has the same opportunities in life: “If I can do it, anybody can” has been his message to disadvantaged youth.

Adriana Barraza

Mexican Adriana Barraza loves language. As an actress it is one of the main tools at her disposal and as a linguist and acting coach she insists on perfection in both language use and accent.  That passion is evident in her most recent role in “ Babel ,” a film in four languages and with three overlapping stories set on different continents. Thanks in part to Barraza’s outstanding work, the film was a leading contender for the 2006 Palme D’Or – the Cannes film festival’s top prize – and figures likely to gain lots of Oscar attention as well. 

Jorge Ramos

Jorge Ramos has been ranked by Hispanic Trends magazine as “one of the most influential Latinos” in the United States and by Latino Leaders magazine as “one of the 10 most admired” Hispanics.  He has been the anchorman for Noticiero Univision since Nov. 3, 1986. In that capacity, he has covered five wars (El Salvador, the Persian Gulf, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq) and numerous other major events, including the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of apartheid in South Africa, the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Latin American summits, guerrilla movements in Chiapas and Central America and elections in virtually every country of the Americas. In addition to his work with Noticiero Univision, which is broadcast in the United States and 13 countries of Latin America, Ramos provides daily radio commentary to stations in dozens of U.S. cities and writes a weekly column that is published in more than 40 newspapers throughout the hemisphere and is distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.