This year’s star-studded El Museo del Barrio Gala honored Peruvian photographer, and official royal engagement photographer, Mario Testino.
Yazd Hernandez, vice-chair at El Museo del Barrio, deciding to honor Testino “because he’s a Latino. He’s an artist. His work has been presented in many museums. Who better than Mario Testino, who’s celebrating 30 years in the business?
Kate Winslet introduced Mario, calling him a genius and a magician and saying that when she hears he will be the photographer of her photo shoot she’s filled with excitement. The star said that when she’s on set worried about the clothes fitting, Mario walks in and makes her feel beautiful.
During the star-studded cocktail hour at New York’s famed Cipriani’s, guests included models Arlenis Sosa and Joan Smalls, the Estee Lauder spokesmodel and beautiful Puerto Rican model, who said she’s thrilled to see Mario Testino honored. “He’s inspirational for the Latinos in this business. It’s amazing to see that Latinos are successful and respected throughout the world. We all aim for that,” said Smalls.
When Mario spoke to the crowd, he said, “It’s nice to be recognized by my own community. I’d love to say it’s all about me, but it isn’t. I would like to thank all those editors that have spent years teaching and nurturing me. My brother, who is my agent, and all those good-looking assistants—other people cast for models but I cast for assistants. They make the girls feel more beautiful. And they make me feel more beautiful when they’re carrying everything behind me!
When we got some one-on-one time with the famed photographer, we asked him what was most extraordinary about his career. “The idea that when I started, people said I wouldn’t make it. I did something right,” he said. “Also, believe in yourself above all. Work hard, and know that 9 to 5 is more like 9 to 12.”
And what does he think about how far Latinos have come? “What I’ve seen up until now from Latinos is pretty incredible. I think we’ve come a long way. I think that the people have [pushed] for a place in society and they’ve gained it. Latinos are fabulous.” We couldn’t agree more!