Leana Villarreal, Respected Live Event Producer, Dead at 39

Courtesy Photo
Leana Villarreal

The prolific television and event professional toured with artists like Justin Bieber and Demi Lovato, in addition to her work with major awards shows

Television and live event producer Leana Villarreal passed away on March 7. The Billboard Latin Music Conference was one of the many events to which Villarreal lent her expertise, and she handled the logistics and flawless execution of the three-day event every year with tremendous grace and professionalism under pressure. We will miss Leana dearly and mourn her loss. 

In her memory, her friends Melissa Exposito, Sr. Director, Business Development for Sony Music Latin Iberia,​ and Laura Sgroi, freelance producer, penned this obituary for Billboard. 
-Leila Cobo

Production professionals across the globe are mourning the loss of Leana Villarreal, who passed away on March 7 after a very private, year-long battle with cancer. She was 39.

Leana was a highly respected and loved professional with a career in television and event production spanning more than fifteen years and multiple continents. An incredible woman who had an infectious energy and an unforgettable smile, she never let any obstacle stand in the way of her success. 

Over the years Leana worked alongside some of the biggest names in the industry. She held herself and those around her to the highest of professional standards as she built an accomplished career in music and entertainment. She worked both onstage and in the production office for countless Univision Network live shows, the Latin Grammy Awards and the Latin American Music Awards, among other TV productions. She toured with several artists, including Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses, Iron Maiden, Justin Bieber and Demi Lovato, and she also managed logistics for the Oscars, the Grammy Awards and the Billboard Latin Music Conference. She never let the stress of all that faze her; she was a professional through and through. Last year Leana worked through months of chemo therapy, and her smile never wavered. 

Always a fan of music and entertainment in all its forms, Leana took great pride and satisfaction in the fact that she played an essential role in the entertainment of millions throughout her career. She was an admirable professional, a remarkable woman and a loving friend, daughter, sister and partner. Her passing leaves a gaping hole in so many hearts. She will be sorely missed, but her light will forever live on in those who love her.

Leana is survived by her partner and fellow production professional, Maxwell Kernich; her mother, Laura Osorno; her father, Henry Villarreal; and her brother and four sisters.

Services for Leana were held Saturday, March 10, in Sunrise, Fla. In lieu of flowers, her family has asked for religious services to be dedicated in her honor, or for donations in her name to the T.J. Martell Foundation and American Cancer Society so that we can continue her fight against this horrible disease.


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