Can you believe it's been 10 years since people were freaking out over Y2K? As we head into a new decade, we thought it would be a great time to reflect on our favorite moments between 2000 and now. We have to hang on to the good times so that they can inspire us and offer hope for a promising future. Here's our little stroll down memory lane...
Mariela Rosario and Shani Saxon-Parrish
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Our Honorable Justice
Sonia Sotomayor's recent confirmation to the highest court in the land was not only a resounding personal achievement, but an example for Latinas everywhere. Sotomayor's personal story has served to inspire women, young and old, to follow their dreams no matter what the circumstance. Her dedication, perseverance and the obvious importance she places on education will shine like a beacon throughout her Supreme Court appointment. Similar to Barack Obama's election to the presidency, Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation as the newest justice in the United States Supreme Court was a watershed moment, not only for Latinas, but for people of color all over this country. We're all proud to be Wise Latinas.
And the Academy Award Goes To…
It would be a stretch to say we took home a lot of Oscars over the past 10 years, but somehow that makes these wins that much more special. Charismatic character actor Benicio del Toro won the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award in 2001 for his Spanish-speaking role in Traffic. This made him the third Puerto Rican actor to win an Oscar, following Jose Ferrer and Rita Moreno. In 2007, Javier Bardem was given an Academy Award for his Supporting Actor role in the gruesome No Country for Old Men. One year later, Bardem’s girlfriend, Penélope Cruz, took home a Best Supporting Actress statue for her role as Bardem’s unstable ex-wife in Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona. This made her the first Spanish woman to ever win an Academy Award. Relive Cruz’s great moment below:
Hearts of Gold
Ricky Martin and Shakira have set a great example over the last decade of how much impact celebrities can have when they focus their energies on helping those less fortunate. Shakira's Pies Descalzos and Latin America for Solidarity (ALAS) foundations have built schools in some of Colombia's most impoverished neighborhoods and raised millions of dollars to help rebuild areas hit by natural disasters. While the Ricky Martin Foundation advocates for the well being of children around the globe in critical areas such as social justice, education and health. Both have dedicated countless hours and funds over the last ten years to raise awareness for those who need it most and we can all learn from their generosity of spirit!
Favelas on Film
City of God (Cidade de Deus) is arguably the best Latin American film of the decade. The movie, co-directed by Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund, vividly brought the harsh realities of Rio de Janeiro's favelas to life. The recipient of over 50 film awards and four Oscar nominations, the 2002 Brazilian feature (adapted from a 1997 novel of the same name written by Paulo Lins) depicts the rise of organized crime in Rio's infamous Cidade de Deus favela. Told from the perspective of a boy named Rocket, the film managed to illuminate the dire situations many of Brazil's poorest city dwellers face. The tag line for the film says it all, ""Fight and you'll never survive...Run and you'll never escape."
Tall, Dark and Chicano
It would be impossible to deny the immense impact Mexican comedian George Lopez has had on entertainment and the Latino community. In addition to the success of Lopez’s sitcom George Lopez, which debuted on ABC in 2002 and ended in 2007, the entertainer is passionate about giving back. He runs his own charity and was named Honorary Mayor of Los Angeles for his extensive fund-raising efforts benefiting earthquake victims in El Salvador and Guatemala. He also received the 2004 Artist of the Year and Humanitarian Award from Harvard University. Lopez is now working to dominate late night television with his new talk show, Lopez Tonight. He recently told Latina, “Letterman is the king of late night, but I believe there’s enough of a diverse audience and there’s a bigger pie that I’m not fighting over the same slice that those guys are fighting over. I’m creating my own pie.”
The Great Brown Way
There have been many attempts in the past to inject a little Latin flavor into Broadway, but the past few years has witnessed a successful takeover! Lin-Manuel Miranda's TONY award winning musical In the Heights threw the door wide open for a Latinization of the Great White Way with it's infectious mix of hip hop, salsa and reggaeton rhythms. Then, Karen Olivo—who originally starred as Vanessa in Heights—explosively reprised the spitfire character of Anita in a revamped, Spanglish version of West Side Story. When Olivo nabbed the Best Supporting Actress TONY the transformation was complete!
Ugly Betty, a groundbreaking ABC comedy executive produced by Salma Hayek, Silvio Horta, Ben Silverman, Jose Tamez and Joel Fields, is based on the immensely popular Colombian telenovela Betty le fea. Although the show has been adapted around the world, the American version, which premiered in Sept. ’06, has proven to be one of the most successful. Audiences are drawn to the themes of culture, identity and misguided beauty standards. The characters are dealing with real life issues—homosexuality, maintaining their ethnic backgrounds in a whitewashed world, cultural status and power dynamics in an office setting. The success of the show comes with its ability to entertain and teach at the same time. The show, starring America Ferrera, has won numerous awards, including two Golden Globes (for Best Leading Actress in a Comedy Series" (Ferrera) and Best Comedy Series), a SAG Award, a Peabody and several Almas.
The Wondrous Life of Junot Diaz
Junot Diaz's award winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao effectively changed the face of modern fiction. The Dominican born, American bred Diaz tells the story of a sci-fi obsessed, overweight young Dominican boy growing up in Patterson, NJ—interweaving the novel with rich and lengthy footnotes touching on the complex history of his ancestral homeland. Wao recieved an outpouring of critical acclaim, finding it's way to the number one spot on countless best-of-the-year book lists and winning both the National Book Critics Circle Award as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2008.
Time magazine named Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel one of the 100 most influential people in the world for 2009—and with very good reason. The celebrated violinist was appointed Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in October of this year, and he kicked off the honor with a five-hour free concert at the Hollywood Bowl. Dudamel, 28, is a product of Venezuela’s El Sistema, a subsidized music program that takes underprivileged children and turns them into symphony performers. In turn, he has made it his mission and passion to help other young disadvantaged people find a way out through music.
There were two topics of conversation on election night 2008 and inauguration day 2009: Our brilliant new African American president, and the First Lady’s choice in outfits. The fashion world drooled with excitement when Michelle Obama stepped out on election night wearing the sexy red and black knee-length dress designed by Cuban-American Narciso Rodriguez. Obama was quickly establishing herself as a daring tastemaker with a refined sense of style. The First Lady further solidified her image on inauguration day when she chose to wear a design by Cuban-American Isabel Toledo, immediately catapulting Toledo to fame. Of the dress, Toledo said she "wanted to pick a very optimistic color, that had sunshine. I wanted her to feel charmed, and in that way would charm everybody.” Job well done.