NCLR Vice President Delia de la Vara.
Courtesy of Julian Teixeira/NCLR

ALMAs producer: ‘Our artists are America’s artists’


The brightest stars in the Latino entertainment community, including Eva Longoria, Mario Lopez and Charo, will gather Friday in Los Angeles for the 15th Annual NCLR ALMA Awards, which honor Latino voices in film, music and television.

RELATED: ALMAs to pay tribute to 15 years of Latino contributions to US culture

The show, which is being broadcast live on msnbc, will honor Pitbull, “Pan’s Labyrinth“ director Guillermo del Toro, and the creative teams behind the film “Ceasar Chavez” and the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black.” The 17 Latinos who were honored with the Congressional Medal of Honor this past March will also be honored at the awards show.

In advance of the show’s “quinceañera” broadcast, producer Delia de la Raza spoke with msnbc about what to expect from the biggest night of the year for Latinos in the entertainment industry, the storied tradition of the AMLAs and the most important issues facing today’s Latino community.

“The focus we have for the show and our talent is the need for our community to have as strong a voice as possible in American society. The route is through our vote.”
NCLR Vice President Delia de la Vara

Reflecting on the past 15 years, why are the ALMA Awards such an important part not only of Latino culture but also of American culture?

Since 1995, the NCLR ALMA Awards has promoted inclusion and diversity in entertainment to reflect our mission to ensure that our fellow Americans know the Latino story and recognize our contributions. The NCLR ALMA Awards highlight the influence Latino artists have on American culture. Our artists are America’s artists. It is also a one-of-a-kind tribute to the spirit of pioneering Latinos in television, film and music. And finally, the NCLR ALMA Awards builds on the work of NCLR by celebrating the contributions our artists are making to their community and to causes important to them.

 What are you most excited about for Friday’s broadcast?

It’s going to be a great show, and we are eager what a great year this was for Latinos in entertainment, especially when it comes to music and television. We also will be having a moving tribute to one of the 17 Latinos who were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest military honor, for their valor and service.  And finally, this is the ALMA Awards’ “quinceañera!” We are celebrating the 15th edition of the NCLR ALMA Awards. To honor that special milestone, NCLR is launching “ALMA’s 15/Los Quinces,” a group of 15 “ambassadors” for the NCLR ALMA Awards. ALMA’s 15 will share memorable moments from the past 15 shows, as well as the value and impact ALMAs are having through recognizing and celebrating diversity and inclusion in American entertainment and media.  

What is the most important issue facing Latinos today?  

Coincidentally, NCLR just released a poll today of Florida’s Latino voters. Our top issues coincide with those of other Americans — improving the economy and education and expanding health care.  But we would note that within those issues, there are specific policies Latino voters overwhelmingly support, including raising the minimum wage and expanding Medicaid and Affordable Care Act enrollment. Even on the issue of immigration  huge in our community  is a belief that comprehensive immigration reform will not only resolve a broken immigration system but be of benefit to all Americans.

Friday’s broadcast will not only celebrate Latino contributions to film, music and television, but also contributions to society. Will there be a call to action for Latinos and Latino youth, and how can they get involved to make their voices heard in their communities? 

The focus we have for the show and our talent is the need for our community to have as strong a voice as possible in American society. The route is through our vote. We will be encouraging  in a nonpartisan, bipartisan way  everyone watching to vote in this upcoming election and to get everyone they know who is eligible to vote. As we noted above, the stakes are high in this election for the issues our community cares most about  the economy, health care, education, justice reform and immigration. If we want solutions and change on these issues, we need to vote in numbers as large as our population in this nation.

 Delia de la Vara is Vice President of the National Council de la Raza. She also serves as a producer of its annual ALMA Awards Show.