Best described as a medley of spirited calls to action, comedic anecdotes, and solemnly moving moments, the 2018 Latino Media Awards, organized by NALIP (National Association of Latino Independent Producers) as the grand finale for its annual Media Summit, functioned as a purposeful response to the false and alarming narratives about Latinos and immigrants that currently exist in this country.

Receiving the Outstanding Achievement in Film Award, the multitalented Diego Luna dedicated his acceptance speech to talking about the immigrant children separated from their parents at the border by the Trump administration. “All of us have had to endure the sights and sounds of children held in cages away from their parents, alone and scared. What we have seen is nothing short of torture, it’s not only immoral but profoundly un-American. Nativism should have no place in a society like this that has given so much to the world,” he said.

Luna noted that he felt powerful being among a group of Latino storytellers because “our strength is in our numbers,” and called for all content creators to use their skills in defense of those who are powerless against inhumane policies. “We have to tell their stories. The only way to counter the nativist threat here and everywhere is to continue telling the stories of those who are most vulnerable. Now more than ever we all have the duty of helping the invisible become visible,” the Mexican star explained.

True to his humorous nature, director Jorge Gutierrez presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Argentine composer Gustavo Santaolalla, who created the score for Gutierrez’s animated movie The Book of Life, by sharing with the audience the fact that he lost his virginity to Santaolalla’s music. It was a much-needed moment of comic relief.

Isabela Moner, Gustavo Santaolalla and Mishel Prada attend NALIP Latino Media Awards at Ray Dolby Ballroom on June 23, 2018 in Hollywood, California. Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for NALIP. Courtesy of NALIP

The revered two-time Academy Award-winning musician delivered an encouraging message highlighting the positive changes happening in the world amidst the daily slew of terrible news. He focused on the way women have stood up for themselves and each other in as part of the #MeToo movement and how Latinos have become an undeniable force.

“These last two years we’ve seen women regaining so many of the rights that have been denied for ages. This is also something that is taking place and we shouldn’t forget about this because we can be very pessimistic sometimes with the news and what’s happening. But there is also this, there is a global consciousness, there is a Latino consciousness that keeps on growing and it cannot be stopped,” he said.

Fellow Argentine, Victoria Alonso, who’s produced every single one of Marvel Studios’ blockbusters, was the recipient of the Tech Arts Innovator Award. She took the time to mention the importance of gratitude, pride, and humility, in addition to singing the Spanish-language classic “Gracias a la vida,” made famous in the voices of Violeta Parra and Mercedes Sosa. Alonso shared that despite her success she longs for the day she is not the only Latina working at the highest levels of the film industry.

“When I first arrived here 27 years ago to LA, I felt very much alone. There was nothing like this. I thought I was the only one. It’s 27 years later, and we are one of the largest studios in the world, we bring the biggest movies in the world. I produced the last 20 of them, and I still feel very much alone…because we need more of me. My mother wouldn’t want more of me, but I know Hollywood wants more of me and you,” said Alonso.

Chelsea Rendon, Clifton Collins Jr., Melissa Barrera and Mishel Prada speak onstage during NALIP Latino Media Awards at Ray Dolby Ballroom on June 23, 2018 in Hollywood, California. Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for NALIP. Courtesy of NALIP

Inviting her “chingona” Vida co-stars on stage with her, actress Mishel Prada accepted the Outstanding Achievement in Television Award and thanked the show’s creator Tanya Saracho and all the women behind the project for making an unapologetically Latinx queer series.

Eugenio Derbez, currently one of the most bankable Latino actors making movies, was chosen to present the Lupe Ontiveros Award to Peruvian-American actress Isabela Moner. The 16-year-old will share the screen with Derbez in the upcoming live-action adaptation of the hit children’s show Dora the Explorer.

NALIP’s Latino Media Awards have consistently raised the profile of the organization both because of the caliber of the talent involved and what such a gala represents for Latinos working within the entertainment industry: visibility, empowerment, and community.


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