Mexican-American Actor Johnny Ortiz Goes From Jail To Hollywood Stardom

Mexican-American actor Johnny Ortiz, grew up surrounded by gangs, drugs, domestic abuse and spent time in jail before age 18. He shares “… it’s not how you start in life, it’s how you finish”. When Johnny was six months into a two year jail sentence he prayed for a second chance and got one. Johnny is now on the ABC hit show American Crime and starred in Disney’s film McFarland, USA.

This Latina Became An Inspiration After Being Abandoned By Her Father — Bianca Dominguez, Entrepreneurial Spanish Speaking Graduate

Bianca Dominguez was born in the US, to Mexican parents. When Bianca was a baby, her father abandoned her family, using Bianca’s gender as an excuse for leaving. In late 2014, Dominguez was the first member of her family to graduate college. Dominguez finds herself torn between the traditional values of her Latino family and her independent “American side”. The video ends with Bianca’s actual graduation where the announcer mispronounces her last name, something that she shares in the beginning of the video that was very important to her.

Actor Luis Guzmán Opens Up About Growing Up Puerto Rican

Luis Guzmán, Puerto Rican born actor and youth advocate shares how when his parents moved to New York from Puerto Rico in the 50s, “If your were Boriqua, you were Boriqua. There was no mixing.” Now, when there is a lot that makes someone who they are, “that IS their identity”. Guzmán shares how his children struggle with identity and belonging. He is featured addressing this issue to a large group of Latino media influencers, stating “We no longer need to ask for permission…We belong.”

Belen De Leon – Former Pop Star Says Criticism About Her Spanish Is Key To Her Success

Former Latin Grammy nominee and teen pop star, turned Meteorologist, Belen De Leon has been broadcast all over the world both in English and Spanish. Growing up in Texas, Belen learned to speak Tex-Mex. As a Latin pop star, Belen was criticised for not speaking proper Spanish, so she took on the challenge of doing so! As a meteorologist Belen continues to use any criticism of her Mexican background or “accent” as a fire inside to keep growing and staying true to who she is, BELEN!

Hugo Balta – How ESPN’s Multicultural Content Embraces Cultural Awareness

Senior Director of Multicultural content at ESPN, Hugo was born in the US to Peruvian parents. Hugo discusses an ESPN interview with Oscar De La Hoya, someone who expresses his pride for both his US and Mexican roots. In the end of the interview, Hugo jokes that when people are confused with where he is from he simply says, “I am from the Republic of Hugo Balta!”

Living Legend Sal Cuevas Reveals How He Transformed The Sound Of Salsa

World class bass player, Nuyorican Salvador “Sal” Cuevas, introduced rock, funk, afro-cuban and Jazz  influences to Latin music. In this video, Sal shares how growing up in Spanish Harlem exposed him to diverse musical influences that had a direct effect on how he played in the studio with Salsa greats like Willie Colon.


Corky Gonzales – Latino High School Students Find Inspiration From Epic Poem “I Am Joaquin”

Chicano Leader, Corky Gonzales was an Activist and author of the famous poem “I Am Joaquin” (1967). In this video, students from La Academia High School in Denver, CO read this famous poem as two of Gonzales’ children Gail and Rudy, reflect on the impact of their fathers words on the Chicano Community then and now. Said best by Corky himself, “The word was all we had.”

Ñ’s In Miami Hispanicize Wrap-Up

We’ve hit the ground running after an incredible week in Miami at Hispanicize this March – an event focused on Latino trendsetters and newsmakers in journalism, blogging, marketing, entertainment and tech entrepreneurship! We interviewed nearly 30 different mega influencers within the Latino community, and connected with hundreds of other incredible ñ’s and Fr’ñ’s. Along the way, we lived and breathed the Cuban culture and we’ve been dying to share how we got “Hispanicized!”

Rick Najera & Charo Toledo – Why Hulu’s Hit Series East Los High Is A Game Changer For Latinos

Rick Najera and Charo Toledo are Latino writers for the triple Emmy nominated show, East Los High on HULU. They share how East Los High is great for Latinos in the the entertainment industry because it features Latinos both behind and in front of the camera. Charo writes for Latinas so they are represented on screen. Rick writes for Latinos so they can see themselves on screen and know they are valued in society.

Irene Arguelles – “You’re White Washed” And Other Lousy Things Latinos Say To Each Other

Irene Arguelles struggles with on-going tension with her immediate Mexican family. At times they have stopped speaking with her all together. This all began when she told her parents she would go to school out of state. Irene’s family was mad, they saw this as a rejection of her culture. Irene attended a mostly ‘white’ school sharing “I was a brown face in a sea of white faces.” Her mother asked if she felt afraid that her white friends would turn on her. At family gatherings Irene recalls her ideas and opinions being regarded as “white washed.”

Jenny Ann Santos – What Happens When A Teacher Scolds A Chicano Activist For Speaking Spanish

Jenny Ann Santos is a Chicano activist. Her middle name was changed on her birth certificate by a hospital employee so it would sound more “American.” In preschool, she was scolded by a teacher telling her she was not allowed to speak Spanish in school. When Jenny shared this incident with her mother, she said that “her family comes from a powerful people.” Jenny’s life’s work is committed to connecting the Chicano community with their native language because that is how one connects with their roots.

Henry Cejudo – Olympic Wrestling Hero Reveals How He Defeated Poverty And Discrimination

Olympic gold medalist, American freestyle wrestler, mixed martial artist and author Henry Cejudo, was raised by his mother, (a then undocumented immigrant from Mexico), in a trailer outside a junkyard. In 2008, Henry became the youngest US wrestler to win an Olympic Gold Medal. After his return, Cejudo recalls radio personalities calling him an “Anchor Baby.” On the contrary, Henry shares that he is the “New Breed Of American.”

Fidel Paulino – Musician Shares How Afro-Caribbean Music And Food Connects Him With Culture

Fidel Paulino was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey in the ‘80s.  He connected with his roots by teaching himself Afro-Caribbean music and dance and began taking pride in cooking dishes like Sancocho. In this episode, Fidel and Denise cook a well known Caribbean dish together and he connects the ingredients and conga music to their indigenous roots in Africa.

Charles Carpenter – Why This Latino Feels Heartbroken About Not Being Able To Speak Spanish

First generation American born Latino, Charles Carpenter was raised by his Anglo father and extended family in Washington State in the 80’s. Growing up without his El Salvadorian mother, he lost touch with her culture. His love of Pupusas though, is one thing that connects him to his Latino roots. Unfortunately, “What breaks the spell,” is when Pupuseria shopkeepers address him in Spanish and are disappointed to realize he can only speak English.

Lupe Hirt – Mexican-American Woman, Breaks Down Sharing Experience With Discrimination

Born in California, Lupe grew up speaking Spanish at home with her family, and learned English in Kindergarten. Lupe is brought to tears in this segment as she describes how it feels to see people disrespected in the grocery store check out line simply because they aren’t fluent in English. She shares how in her house she didn’t have a pet dog or cat instead they had chickens.

Irene Vilar – A Revealing Account Of Life With Puerto Rican Activist Lolita Lebrón

Granddaughter of famous Puerto Rican activist Lolita Lebrón, Irene Vilar is an author, Environmental activist and mother of two. Irene shares how she grew up with a suicidal mother who succeeded when Irene was very young. Irene says her life was a “struggle for self redemption and eradication of shame.’ From meeting her husband to writing several novels about herself and her family, Irene has risen from a painful family history and opened her heart.

Tamil & Danny – Building A New Life In The US And Keeping A Connection To Cultural Roots

Tamil and Danny came to the US from Latin America a little over a decade ago to pursue academic careers. Shortly after, their lives took a different path. Danny became the first non-voting citizen in the nation to hold public office through the Chamber of Commerce and Tamil now runs a Caribbean music and dance organization. Now, they are expecting a baby, a first generation born American and they both want to raise him with strong ties to his Puerto Rican and Costa Rican roots.

Growing Up ñ Mashups: Language, Family, Food

Our Growing Up ñ Mashups feature past ñ stories related to common themes we’ve discovered through each interview – Language, Family & Food. We hope you enjoy this video series combining two ñ stories related to one of the aforementioned topics.