Even though they were born and raised in the States, these Latino celebrities aren’t afraid to let loose in the mother tongue. It may not be perfect, but they all get A’s for effort.
1. Espanol: Eva Mendes
Eva Mendes talks to an Escándalo TV correspondent after her home line launch at Macy’s in New York City and impressively holds her own. Yes, there are a few slip-ups (“comento” instead of “comentario”), but a charming, always-recognizable Cuban accent comes through, and for the most part she has no trouble with the questions. She even makes a joke about Natalia Jimenez, lead singer for La Quinta Estación, and her infamous remarks that her sex fantasy revolved around Eva. Good job not getting flustered with that one!
2. Espanol: Jennifer Lopez
If nothing else, at least Jennifer Lopez can thank her sleazy ex-husband Ojani Noa for helping her perfect her Spanish. She told Reader’s Digest in 2003 that thanks to Noa—who only spoke español when they wed in 1997—her skills with the language greatly improved. Earlier that same year (after filming Selena) the pop diva was lambasted by the Latin press for not being able to speak Spanish fluently. But as this video shows, La Lopez got some help with her español for all those press appearances she has to make to promote her films. This one, done for an audience in Spain while promoting 2010’s The Backup Plan, shows that while her pronunciation may not be native, she’s definitely conversationally fluent.
3. Espanol: Michelle Rodriguez
Michelle Rodriguez is impressive in this interview, giving deep, thoughtful answers to the many questions about her recent movie Machete and immigration issues in the United States. “Lo que necesitamos es un corazón y una mente abierta,” she says about what’s missing in political rhetoric these days. Her control of the language is not surprising, given that she has a bit of an advantage: Rodriguez spent four years (from ages 9 to 13) living in the Dominican Republic before the family moved back and settled in New Jersey. “When I first got to DR, I didn’t know a word of Spanish,” she told us back in June 2004. “And by the time I left, I had forgotten all my English!”
4. Espanol: Eva Longoria
Ms. Eva Longoria learned to speak Spanish when she was older, not having been taught the language growing up. The eighth-generation Tejana is known to proudly tout her Latinidad and has been famously credited with reviving the ALMA Awards telecast. And although she took some heat in 2009 for fudging the word “adquirido” while presenting at the Latin Grammys, this video only a few months later shows a huge improvement—we’ll even let it go that she said “ninos” and not “niños.” Practice that “ñ” sound more and you’ll be set, Eva!
5. Espanol: Christina Aguilera
We know Christina Aguilera wants her son Max to be bilingual to honor her roots, but the singer really had trouble while filming a promo for Despierta América. This video may be 10 years old (she had just released her all-Spanish Latin Grammy-winning album Mi Reflejo in 2000), but her language skills haven’t improved one bit since then. We can’t blame her though: Aguilera did not grow up with her Ecuadorean father, and we have to give her props for never anglicizing her last name and keeping her very non-vanilla sounding apellido.
6. Espanol: Selena Gomez
Part-Mexican teen star Selena Gomez has admitted to us that her español isn’t really the best and she can understand it better than she can speak it, but in this super adorable short clip, we can see that at least she’s trying. It may be a brief promo for Disney Channel España, but she really does do her best with “Por fin para todos.” As long as Gomez sticks to her Rosetta Stone plan, we know she can be as fluent as anyone. We’ll wait patiently for that Spanish-language album!
7. Espanol: Mark Sanchez
We can’t even describe how much we heart Mark Sanchez, and his attempts at speaking Spanish were SO CUTE in this 2009 interview that we can’t hold in our silly-girl giggles when watching—especially when he says, “¿Cómo se dice ‘excited’?” toward the middle. However, Sanchez definitely needs to hit the libros a bit to brush up on the pronunciation and vocabulary. An NFL Quarterback who can consistently bring his team into the playoffs each year and rolls his R’s with ease? ¿Cómo se dice “hot”?