Amigos del español

Jessica Alba

Jessica Alba doesn’t speak Spanish. Nor does she speak Danish for that matter, the language of her mother’s family. But this 26-year-old actress from California , best known for her roles in “Sin City ”and “Fantastic Four,” is eager to learn. She feels very proud of her Spanish-language surname and is very close to her father’s family even though she is a third-generation Mexican-American. While she is learning the language of her ancestors, however, she avidly reads everything she can get a hold of in her native tongue.

Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu

Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu, the first Mexican nominated for an Oscar in the best director category, said he survived the “Hispanic tsunami” that took over this year’s Academy Awards  thanks to three things: good friends, a lot of water and a good novel. González Iñárritu – whose globe-spanning, multi-lingual film “Babel” was nominated for seven Oscars in total and was the last installment in a trilogy that includes “Amores Perros” (Love’s a Bitch) and “21 Gramos” (21 Grams), all with Guillermo Arriaga as screenwriter – is well aware of the power of words, having made people’s inability to communicate the main theme of his latest work.

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.

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