From telenovela stars to talented musicians, to weathergirls and talk show hosts — there’s a lot of Spanish-language talent in the world. Here are the 10 Brightest Spanish-language stars of the moment, according to us.
1. Spanish-Language Stars: William Levy
William Levy, 30
Why his star shines bright: This Cuban heartthrob and former model has been making women swoon for years as the male lead of three popular telenovelas: Cuidado Con El Angel (2008), Sortilegio (2009), and Triunfo del Amor (2010-2011) — a remake of the Venezuelan classic, Cristal. This year, William’s hotness seemed to multiply. The hunky actor — who made People en Espanol’s 50 Most Beautiful list — was exposed (literally) to a global audience when he appeared shirtless on the beach as Jennifer Lopez’s love interest in the music video for her single, “I’m Into You,” proving it’s not just his career that’s hot.
2. Spanish-Language Stars: Jencarlos Canela
Jencarlos Canela, 23
Why his star shines bright: Unlike William Levy—who sticks solely to acting—Jencarlos Canela is a double threat who divides his time between acting and music (think Ricky Martin, but Cuban!). This year, Canela starred in his fourth telenovela (Mi Corazon Insiste), and released his second album, Un Nuevo Dia, which featured collaborations with Pitbull, Jose Feliciano and Gilberto Santa Rosa. While he’s still mostly known only in the Spanish-language world, Canela—who recorded an English-language track on the new album—is looking to make a crossover into English-language projects. “I think we’re going to definitely start moving in that direction [of recording more English language music], without abandoning the fans that brought me here,” he said.
3. Spanish-Language Stars: Maite Perroni
Maite Perroni, 28
Why her star shines bright: Maite Perroni kisses William Levy everyday on the set of her hit Univision telenovela, Triunfo del Amor. That alone should make for a great year, right? But Maite is one of those extra-lucky people. The Mexican-actress, whose career was launched as a member of the Latin Grammy nominated pop group RBD, is best known for her roles as Guadalupe "Lupita" Fernández in Rebelde (2004-2006), and as María de Jesús "Marichuy" Velarde in Cuidado con el Ángel, and this year, Univision fans started calling her the "queen of telenovelas."
4. Spanish-Language Stars: Jackie Guerrido
Jackie Guerrido, 31
Why her star shines bright: Everyday at 5/4c, Jackie Guerrido brings us the weather as the presentadora del tiempo (weathergirl) for Univision’s afternoon newsmagazine show, Primer Impacto (“First Impact”). Makes sense—after all, the forecast for Guerrido’s career this year has been sunny with a chance of greatness! (Well, except for that highly publicized breakup from fiancé Don Omar).
5. Spanish-Language Stars: Romeo Santos
Romeo Santos, 29
Why his star shines bright: Romeo Santos—the lead singer of super group Aventura—announced in January that his new solo deal with Jive Records was worth a cool $10 million! As part of his new contract, Romero is required to drop at least five solo albums, with his first album, Formula, expected to be released around October of 2011. In May, the part-Dominican, part-Boricua singer released the first single off the new album—a romantic bachata ballad called “You,” that made women everywhere swoon.
6. Spanish-Language Stars: Kate del Castillo
Kate Del Castillo, 38
Why her star shines bright: Kate Del Castillo rose to fame in 1991 when she starred as Leticia in the telenovela Muchachitas. Kate has starred in 10 telenovelas, and two indie movies (La Misma Luna, Bordertown), and Showtime’s hit series, Weeds. But 2011 has been arguably the best year of Kate’s accomplished career. The Mexican actress struck gold with her new telenovela, La Reina del Sur—the most expensive telenovela ever produced by Telemundo and its highest rated telenovela of all-time! The Spanish-soap, which stars Kate as a young Mexican woman who becomes a powerful drug trafficker in Spain, easily beat all of the competitors in its timeslot this spring—and we’re not just talking about Spanish-language shows. Telemundo is so proud of the soap that the network has launched its first ever Emmy campaign to try and get Kate an Emmy nomination for her work on the show.
7. Spanish-Language Stars: Blanca Soto
Blanca Soto, 32
Why her star shines bright: This year, Mexican actress Blanca Soto had her first lead role in a telenovela—as Eva Gonzalez, an immigrant who moves to America with her father and sister in search of a better life in Univision’s Eva Luna. Eva Luna was watched weekly by almost 10 million people and aired in over 20 countries around the world. The telenovela regularly got higher ratings than primetime English-language comedies like CBS’ How I Met Your Mother and Mike & Molly and NBC’s Chuck. Blanca is set to star in another Univision telenovela called Talisman, set to debut on Univison in the fall.
8. Spanish-Language Stars: Natalia Jimenez
Natalia Jiménez, 29
Why her star shines bright: Natalia Jiménez has been making beautiful music for years as the lead singer of the group, La 5a Estacion, but this year the gorgeous Spanish singer released both her first solo single, (“Por Ser Tu Mujer”), and her first self-titled solo album. “I’m really happy!" said Natalia, who is one of our five future Latino legends in the making. “I love my first album as a solo artist. I think it is the most versatile record of my career, and also I’m very proud of having Emilio Estefan as a producer on my project,” she said.
9. Spanish-Language Stars: Giselle Blondet
Giselle Blondet, 47
Why her star shines bright: The only person more beautiful and charming than the contestants on Univision’s popular reality competition, Nuestra Belleza Latina, is the show’s host, Giselle Blondet. A stylish and graceful woman who’s likeable and smart, Giselle will be back as the host of the show when Nuestra Belleza returns for a sixth season in 2012. And given the show’s monster ratings for last year’s finale (which drew 4.9 million total viewers) she’ll probably be hosting the hit show for many more seasons!
10. Spanish-Language Stars: Jenni Rivera
Jenni Rivera, 42
Why her star shines bright: Mexican singer, actress, entrepreneur, philanthropist (and freelance taco truck vendor), Jenni Rivera added reality star to her long resume this year when La Diva de la Banda starred in a spinoff of her daughter’s reality show, Jenni Rivera Presents Chiquis and Raq-C. Entitled I Love Jenni, the new show followed the daily insanity of Jenni and her family at their Encino, California home, chronicling everything from Jenni’s medical issues, weight-loss goals, taco truck business, and of course—all those children! Of course, when it comes to the unpredictable Jenni, nothing is ever boring, and her hit reality show is to mun2 what Keeping Up with the Kardashians is to the E! network: irreplaceable.