Amigos del español

Maria Marin

Puerto Rican motivational speaker, businesswoman and columnist Maria Marin has devoted her energies to the subjects of personal improvement and the “art of negotiation” through her company Voice of Empowerment. Marin is known at the workshops and conferences she gives for her persuasive and enthusiastic style and that ability to inspire combined with her expertise have led her to become the only Hispanic woman to teach negotiation skills worldwide. The current spokeswoman for the American Diabetes Association’s “Por tu familia” Latino health program, Marin helps people overcome their personal obstacles and teaches the importance of trusting in oneself.   

Francis Ford Coppola

An American by birth and Italian at heart, Francis Ford Coppola now has his sights set on Latin America and is learning Spanish. This cinematic giant, best known for directing “The Godfather” trilogy and “Apocalypse Now,” will find that the language comes in handy now that he has a production firm in Argentina and hotels in Guatemala and Belize and is preparing to start shooting “Tetro,” a film about an Argentine family in which Spaniards Javier Bardem and Maribel Verdú have starring roles.

Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow is a perfect example of the California blonde, but also an “adopted daughter” of the Spanish city of Talavera de la Reina, where she lived as an exchange student and learned Spanish. This citizen of the world won an Oscar at the age of 26 for her role in Shakespeare in Love and had highly publicized romances with Brad Pitt and Ben Affleck.  Paltrow now lives in London with husband Chris Martin, the lead singer of the English rock band Coldplay, and their two children. Paltrow’s worldly background is reflected in her ability with languages, as she speaks English and Spanish fluently and also has good command of Italian, French and German.

Pedro Almodovar

A native of the Spanish region of La Mancha , the setting of Cervantes’ classic novel “Don Quijote,” Almodóvar always has a book with him when he travels. His screenplays are completely his own – never adapted – and are the basis for the undeniable originality that characterizes his cinematic work. But in the home of the two-time Oscar winner – for Best Foreign Language Film (“Todo sobre mi madre”) in 1999 and Best Original Screenplay (“Hable con ella”) in 2002 – the most important things are his books.

Eva Mendes

Eva Mendes is a young, attractive Hispanic woman and the new face of Calvin Klein and Revlon. Considered one of the sexiest actresses in Hollywood, her risqué poses have earned her mother’s disapproval on more than one occasion. But she’s also an avid reader with a preference for screenplays based on literature.

Gael García Bernal

Gael García Bernal, a 30-year-old actor from Guadalajara, Mexico whose rise to stardom has made him a citizen of the world, had his big breakthrough with the film Amores Perros and keeps reaching new heights, undeterred by any barriers Hollywood may put in his path. What makes him special is that he goes against the tide and only takes the best projects, or perhaps ones in which his friends are involved. Occasionally, he has the chance to do both, as is the case with Rudo y Cursi, a Mexican film in which García Bernal stars alongside his friend and “brother,” Diego Luna.