Two years ago at the NALIP Latino Media Awards, just after Trump made his initial horrendous remarks against Mexicans, Eugenio Derbez gave an impassioned speech about proving how mistaken those allegations were. Last year, months before the election, the message of many honorees was related to the need for Latinos to make their voices heard by voting and encouraging other to register to vote. This year, the recurrent theme of the night involved resistance and breaking down walls wherever they may exist. With that in mind, a group of talented Latinos took the stage to mark the end the 2017 Media Summit organized by the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP).
Lupe Award Honoree, and newly added member of the Marvel family, Guatemalan-American actor Tony Revolori appeared hopeful that the industry is changing for the better and that rejection based on skin color will one day end. On a more political note, Mexican actress Kate del Castillo used her time in the limelight, after the receiving the Outstanding Achievement in Television Award, to denounce the government of her country for the actions taken against her since the El Chapo ordeal, as well as to apologize for her unwise decisions.
Action star Vin Diesel became an Honorary Latino when presenting Zoe Saldaña with the Outstanding Achievement in Film Award and opening his remarks with a candid “Hola mi gente.” Saldaña was visibly moved by the recognition and delivered an emotionally charged speech about being proud of her heritage, thanking those who have helped her along the way, and using her position to inspire others. Animator Jorge Gutierrez, who took home the Tech Arts Innovator Award, stole the audience’s heart with three hilarious and touching stories about being a Latino working in film and meeting one of his idols, Guillermo del Toro. Puerto Rican veteran performer Ivonne Coll, most recently seen in the acclaimed show Jane the Virgin, was unable to attend the ceremony to pick up her Lifetime Achievement Award due to a recent injury.
Although the evening had numerous remarkable moments, a “Chingue su madre Trump” from Chicano cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz sums up the energy of a community who is fighting back with endless talent as ammunition. Here are some highlights from this year’s awards show.
Tony Revolori on Family and Wes Anderson Giving Him His Big Break
First and foremost I wanna thank my parents. Both of them did a lot for me and they gave me great opportunities to succeed, so getting that out of the way: Thank you mom, thank you dad. I wanna thank the people that have helped most on my journey to where I am now, and that includes my brother Mario and my cousins, who are seating over there. Thank you guys. I would also like to give a big thanks to Wes Anderson, who picked a kid out form Anaheim and changed his life. Thank you Wes. I really am honored and thankful to NALIP for this award. It means a great deal to me to be honored and recognized by my peers.
Tony Revolori on Rejection and Being Cast in Spider-Man: Homecoming
I’ve been rejected and told “No” to so many times because of the way I look or the color of my skin, that’s disheartening, but it’s nice to have a community that supports you. Thank you NALIP. I’ve worked very hard to get where I am, and fortunately I’m in a Marvel movie now. Very, very fortunately I’m not playing a Hispanic guy in the background who has a stereotypical accent. I’m playing a 6’2, blond, blue-eyed white guy, and I’m a 5’8, black hair, brown-eyed, brown guy, and there is not a single line of exposition in that movie to explain why that it. And that’s amazing. In the words of Bob Dylan, “the times they are a changin’,” and we gotta help that change happen further, faster, and better. We can’t be building any walls within out community. Thank you.
Kate del Castillo on Raising Her Voice Against the Mexican Government and Accepting Her Mistakes
I wrote this earlier today because English is not my first language, as you all know, and I don’t feel that comfortable but it’s still from my heart, so I’m going to read this. First of all I want to thank you all for this opportunity to be on stage before your eyes. I’m honored to be here received this award for simply doing what I love, which is acting. It’s all I know. My father is the actor, we never had any other business, so I’ve always made a living out of my craft.
After a very tough year where I’ve been publically scrutinized, attacked, and punished by the Mexican government, not being able to go back to my country, I had the chance to think about my mistakes and things I’ve done wrong in the past. But I can’t undo what’s already done, what I can do is always speak out, raise my voice, and fight against those who have tried to silence me, as this is no time to be silent. Fight against any administration that manipulates the narrative to distance us all from our humanity.
Kate del Castillo on Latinos Changing the Narrative
We, all of us, can change the narrative. I am proud to be a Latina, a Mexican, and an actress who struggles to find roles that aren’t either stereotyped or sexualized, roles that empower women. It is my duty. Hopefully the struggle will end one day, now more than ever our community needs to stand together and let our voices be heard. Thank you NALIP so much for this recognition. Let this award be a representation of our struggles and battles as the most unrepresented ethnic group dealing with this every -fucking- day. Don’t stop progressing, advancing, and advocating for Latino content across all media. Gracias, es un honor estar aquí con todos ustedes.
Zoe Saldaña On How Proud She Is of Being Latina
I wish you had teleprompters because if only you knew how much stage fright I have. I’m an extremely shy person. I’ll try to do the best that I can, and please don’t judge me, and if you do, I don’t fucking care. This is a very special night and this a very special acknowledgement, I wish that my family were here tonight because they are the reason that I am defined, they are the reason I am composed, they are my elements of life, my life, my water, my earth, my fire, my air, and they are the ones that make me wanna be a better person because they are the best people I’ve ever met. And whether it’s because they are Latinos or they’re just because they are amazing people, I will never know, and I will spent the rest of my life conquering that, but I the meantime I just have to say that I’m so proud to say that I am Latina.
Zoe Saldaña on the Role of NALIP
I wanna thank two very important entities. One, NALIP, thank you so much for this acknowledgement. I do believe that a community is all about shared support and NALIP has long worked to nurture a community whose talent and stories have been historically marginalized. And I’m grateful that an organization like NALIP exists, so that more Latino voices can be heard and more opportunities can be created actively by all of us who can break down walls wherever they are so that we can ensure that our cultural thread woven throughout this country is as bright, and as strong, and as distinct, and visible, as it can be. That is our constitution. Thank you NALIP.
Zoe Saldaña on Mexican-American Writer Roberto Orci and Vin Diesel Being an Asset to Latinos
I wanna thank Roberto Orci for rescuing us. Roberto is the writer of Star Trek. When I booked this movie I was so happy that he was one of the writers. He was so talented, and to know that he was such a geek [Laughs] loving science fiction, and being Latino, I just felt he was a kindred spirit and those are the voices that speak miles to me. I also wanna thank Vin. You are true American example of community. You are a person that grew up in New York surrounded by so much diversity and so much culture, and that culture was predominantly Latino, and it shaped greatly the person that you are. It has affected and impacted the artist that you have become and you have made it your mission to allow your art to be accurately reflective of your world. Latinos, we are number one beneficiaries of your art. I love you.
Zoe Saldaña on Using Her “Latinohood” to Inspire Others
I’m thrilled to be here because my husband, for an Italiano, is the biggest Latino. He remind me be proud and to be proud the right way. I don’t carry a flag physically, I carry my flag internally in the way that I handle myself, in the way that I raise my family, and in the way that I guide myself as an American. That’s how I carry my Latinohood. I hope that continues to be an inspiration for all American Latinos, all Latinos worldwide, or anybody, Asians Latinos, Asian fucking Blacks, anyone that may look in the mirror, and look at a camera, and look on TV, or open a newspaper and don’t see a positive reflection of who they are, I want them to know that they can be teachers, scientists, and doctors, besides being entertainers, and still be impactful without being singled out because they are exotic, or they are ethnic, or they are colorful, but just because they are great. I wanna make sure that I’m a part of that movement. I wanna thank my husband because he reminds me to be uninhibited and to be bold, because right now the world and our country needs us to be that bold. NALIP, you as an organization, mean a lot more to me than any big institution or any big entity that wants to choose to make me feel that I belong. You mean a lot more to me. Thank you so much.
Animator Jorge Gutierrez Tells Three Jokes and Has the Crowd Reeling with Guillermo del Toro Punch Line
I wanna take my parents who drove from Tijuana ad they are here. I wanna take my wife and my son who are in Texas and they couldn’t make it. Les mando muchos besos y abrazos a Luca y a Sandra. I wanna tell you guys three really quick stories, really fast.
Here is the first one. I’m watching Star Wars in Mexico City with my father, and I’m seeing the future right? This is the future. And I go, “Papa, which one is the Mexican one? Did we make it to the future? “ My dad doesn’t even blink and he goes, “Chewbacca is a Mexican.”
Second story, I went to CalArts, I’m an animation student, I’m super excited, and it’s my first day of work as animation intern on the movie Stewart Little at Sony Pictures. I show up an hour early because I’m so excited and I don’t wanna screw up. I go to the cafeteria, and I have the biggest of grins, and I order a coffee. The guy at the cafeteria starts yelling at me and he says, “What are you doing here? Janitorial services were supposed to be here two hours ago.” And I thought, “Wow, there must not be animators that look like me. I have to change that guy’s mind.”
Third and final story, after many, many years trying to get The Book of Life made, finally after a thousand “No’s” from every studio, Guillermo del Toro, who I owe the movie to – by the way I owe Zoe Saldaña and Kate del Castillo who are here for being in The Book of Life –after he turned me down 15 times, finally I got a meeting to go to his house. He has two houses, one with his family, his two daughters and wife, and then another house where he has all his crazy movie collection stuff. I go to that house, and he’s turned me down so many times, I’m just so excited and I just wanna get a “No” from him so I could tell all my friends I got to meet him.
I finally go to his house and he tells me I had 20 minutes to pitch him. I’m a big guy, he is a big guy, this is in August, and we made the horrible decision to pitch the movie outside of his house in the yard. It’s super hot, it’s like 110 degrees, he is sweating and I’m sweating, I take the most important breath of my life to pitch him the movie, I’m like, “Ancestors come to me! Give me strength!” And before I can pitch he goes, “Gordo! Five minutes.”
My 20-minute pitch that I’ve been practicing for months is now five minutes, so I’m like, “Ok, I can do this. Ancestors come to me!” Again, I take the most important breath of my life, and I kid you not, my people betrayed me in the house next door. There must have been five gardeners with leaf blowers and it was like they were waiting for my mouth to open like, “Orale wey! R-r-r-r-rum” A wave of sound is hitting me, “Arrrrgh,” and I yell at Guillermo, “Guillermo! Do I wait until they are done?” He looks at me with his beautiful blue eyes and he goes, “Gordo! Four minutes!” so I pitch him the movie, it’s a disaster.
He is drenched in sweat, I’m drenched in sweat, and we go back inside to his house. I apologize, I’m like, “I’m so sorry I wasted your time,’ you know. He is my hero, so I look at him for some guidance before I say goodbye. I say, “Guillermo I’m sorry for that pitch, it wasn’t so good.” And he goes, “Gordo, not good? That was the shittiest pitch I’ve ever seen in my life.”
I stand up to say goodbye and he is like, “Sit down. I know you. I know your cartoons. I have two daughters. I’ve watched the stuff that you’ve done. I know how you love your country. I know you love our culture. Of course I wanna produce your movie.” I’m drenched in sweat so I peed my pants and no one could tell, and he is drenched in sweat, and we hug. Our sweats combined. Then he pushed me away and said, “Gordo, did you write the script? If you didn’t write the script then it’s not Mexican.” So I run to my car, I had the script in the trunk of my car, and we had gone to a wedding, and the wedding they gave us tequila bottles as a party gift. Well, the tequila bottle broke and my script is drenched in tequila. I’m running, blowing on it, and I hand him the script. He grabs it with his beautiful gigantic hands. He grabs the script and like a doctor, looks at it, and then he smells it, and he goes, “That’s a good script.”
The National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) seeks to inspire, promote, and advocate for Latino content creators in media. As a non-profit organization, NALIP advances the development of Latino content creation through its programs focusing on narrative, documentary, TV, and digital formats. For more information, visit NALIP.org