Lin-Manuel Miranda, Miss Universe Join the AIDS Cause

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This past Tuesday I had the pleasure of attending the Latino Commission on AIDS annual benefit gala, Cielo Latino at Cipriani’s Wall Street. It’s my fourth year volunteering for Cielo Latino as part of its benefit committee, and it’s always an amazing event. This time, it was particularly emotional as the Commission – the largest organization dedicated to AIDS advocacy and education in the Latino community  – honored  the life and work of its co-founder and past president Dennis deLeon, who passed away last year after living with AIDS for almost 25 years.

Celebrities such as Ruben Blades, Rosie Perez, MTV’s Carlos SantosLupe Ontiveros, and Venezuelans Miss Universe 2008 Dayana Mendoza and Miss Universe 2009 Stefania Fernandez were some of the celebrities that  attended the black tie gala, which was hosted by CNN‘s Soledad O’Brien.  In The Heights star Lin-Manuel Miranda presented a special award to choreographer/director Kenny Ortega (Dirty Dancing, High School Musical, Michael Jacksons This is It), who will direct the forthcoming big screen adaption of the Broadway sensation.

Lin-Manuel told me he’s getting back into the role of Usnavi, both for the movie and the 5-week Los Angeles run of In The Heights in June. He’s also heading back to the gym to prepare for the role he created and working on the movie screenplay. After he finishes it up this summer, the film will start shooting early next year.

Later, Telemundo newswoman Carmen Dominicci was named International Ambassador of the Commission. The Puerto Rican newswoman (who looks stunning at 43!!!) will be working on prevention and education through her role as ambassador.

Uptown bomba y plena ensemble Tato Torres & Yerbabuena performed live and got everyone dancing, especially Carmen Dominicci, who was getting downnn!