Episode 010: “I’m American, I’m Mexican, I’m Just Belen!” with Belen De Leon (ñ.mx)
A big part of what Belen De Leon has had to conquer in life is standing outside of her comfort zone. Even early on, Belen’s bright ambitious spirit was a driving force for her success, she intuitively turned other’s doubt into a fire inside to prove that she could do it. Growing up in Texas with a Mexican background, she learned to speak a form of Spanish that was ‘Tex Mex,’ that was not ‘correct’. After high school Belen signed a music contract to perform with Mexican Pop group La Onda. Performances were broadcast all over the world to different Spanish speaking countries and Belen needed to learn how to speak Spanish “correctly,” a major challenge to her comfort zone! After she got out of the music business and used her meteorology degree to be on television to deliver the weather in both English and Spanish on two different networks. She gained confidence that her bilingualism was indeed a great advantage. Today, working at 9 News Denver, Belen can bring her culture into her delivery of the weather and news. Belen continues to use any criticism of her background or “accent” as a fire inside to keep growing and staying true to who she is, BELEN!
“Soy Americana, soy Mexican, oh I don’t know, I’m just Belen!
¡Feliz Cinco de mayo Todos! From your Nanos friends, Happy cinco de mayo! Here we go! (sings) I think a big part of what I had to conquer was stepping outside of my comfort zone and you had those people that are naysayers that say that you can’t do it. You are a nina from – de la baja. You know you’re not gonna make it and in me that would spark a fire that would say ‘I am gonna prove you wrong’. My name is Belen de Leon. Soy mexicana. Soy americana. I am American but I am Mexican. I don’t know. I am Belen. There you go. I grew up in South Texas I had an affinity for music since I was a little girl and I love to sing, I love to perform I just to make people happy and right out of high school I was able to join this musical group La Onda. I grew up speaking a form of Spanish that was very Tex/ Mex so it wasn’t correct at all. Everything that we are gonna do from now on is gonna be on these major television networks that’s transmitted to all these Latin American countries and if you don’t know how to speak correct Spanish then basically you are a fraud. So with another obstacle in the way I need a to learn how to speak this language correctly. Hablaba muy pocha and mis amigos burlaban de mi. They’d mock me they’d make fun of me first and then they corrected me, and I’d be like okay, así, así and then I’d say it correctly. This was my first album, several months away from my parents. I was 18. The thing is that when I started in the group I was very young. I hadn’t experienced a lot of things. I would always think about I wouldn’t want to do anything that embarrassed my parents and when I was missing out so much time from being with my family then I stopped liking it, and I’m like, what am I doing this for? After I got out of the music business I dabbled in television because now I had the experience of being in front of a camera. They asked me to do the weather. I was the first person in my market in South Texas to be on FOX station giving the weather in English and then turning the channel you could see me on Univision doing the weather as well in Spanish so it was a big challenge for me but at the same time being bilingual and knowing how to do both of them correctly was a huge advantage for me. >> This 9 NEWS.
Belen: With me now is Joan Cortes, I don’t know about this. This too much spice for 9NEWS, this Latina right here. Now you guys have really geared up for the grand opening today, isn’t that right? >> yeah, we are. >> And when I came to Denver and I started working at 9 NEWS there weren’t very many people like me but I can sprinkle my culture into my stories and forecast or just random words in Spanish but, you know, it was something that some people were not ready to accept. I get all sorts of nasty emails and racist comments about how I needed to go back to Mexico, how I had a horrible accent and I was so annoying and it’s another one of those things, you can’t tell me what I can’t do because I am going to prove you wrong.