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Celebration at the 2013 NCLR ALMA Awards

"Because we’re on MSNBC we gotta talk a little politics, right?” joked host Mario Lopez as he kicked off the ALMA Awards Friday evening. “Why don’t we talk abo
ALMA awards 2013

"Because we’re on MSNBC we gotta talk a little politics, right?” joked host Mario Lopez as he kicked off the ALMA Awards Friday evening.

“Why don’t we talk about Ted Cruz? That guy talked for 21 hours non-stop,” replied co-host and executive producer Eva Longoria. ”21 hours--it’s crazy, huh? Usually it’s a Latina who talks for 21 hours non-stop’,” quipped Lopez.

The 2013 NCLR ALMA Awards--broadcast on MSNBC--featured a brand-new format this year, as some of the biggest names in Latino Hollywood were honored for achievement in television, film, music and activism rather than selected in specific categories like “Best Actress” or “Best Drama.”

The evening’s honorees included director Robert Rodriguez (recipient of the Anthony Quinn Award for Industry Excellence) and the cast of “Filly Brown,” which was recognized for “Special Achievement in Film.” Latino cast members of “Dexter”– actors Lauren Vélez, David Zayas and Aimee Garcia — were also honored for “Special Achievement in Television.” And finally – in a new honor presented this year – the “Outstanding Commitment to Cause and Community” award was given both to rock star Carlos Santana and to actress Rosario Dawson.

“I accept this award  knowing that despite continuous challenges, new and old ones, challenges which could easily dampen the most optimistic of hearts, we have strived, we have pleaded and we have given it our all to push through those obstacles because the grand and attainable visions we have for ourselves and our communities far outweigh any challenge that come before us,” said Dawson, who was recognized for her philanthropic work with The Lower Eastside Girls Club and Voto Latino. Her mother Celeste was her date, a woman who Dawson acknowledged as the reason “that I have become the woman I am today.”

But the star-studded evening wasn’t strictly all about achievement in the arts and philanthropy. There was music--thanks to an emotional performance of the national anthem by young mariachi singer Sebastien de La Cruz--and more than a few laughs, with a special comedic skit by Al Madrigal. Other highlights included a moment of silence for deceased Mexican bandasinger Jenni Rivera, whose last film “Filly Brown” was honored for achievement in film.

Other special moments--when NCLR CEO and President Janet Murguía “stole” MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews’ anchor chair--characterized the evening, during which celebrities Diego Boneta and Jessica Alba each presented awards.

And fashion--Longoria’s six outfits alone nearly stole the show--was a big highlight of the evening. “Devious Maids” star Dania Ramirez stunned in a flowing, one-shouldered Grecian-inspired red gown and “La Voz Kids” host Daisy Fuentes showed off her model looks in a statuesque emerald green dress, showcasing looks sure to inspire countless Latinos nationwide in the months to come.

Did you watch the 2013 NCLR ALMA Awards? Tell us about whose look you loved, which speeches made you cry and who you enjoyed seeing most on stage.

This piece was originally posted on NBCLatino