In selecting the 25 Hispanic Women in Entertainment, The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard focused exclusively on behind-the-scenes players within the film, TV and music industries and only included performers who are also active as producers, writers or directors. The list includes those who work within both the English- and Spanish-language media in the U.S. Without further ado, the list is:
President, CBS Entertainment
At a glance: As president of CBS Entertainment, Tassler is the highest-ranking Latina in network television, overseeing the programming of primetime, late night and daytime.
Education: B.F.A., theater, Boston University
Big deal: Keeping CBS’ top ratings in viewers with anchors like “CSI” and “Two and a Half Men,” while developing new shows like “Cane.” After years of trying to lure Jimmy Smits to the network, Tassler snagged him with the starring role in the Cuban family saga.
Year in review: In addition to overseeing current programming and greenlighting new ones for development, Tassler led the search for Bob Barker’s replacement for “The Price Is Right,” something she considers “one of the most extraordinary opportunities of my life.”
Key to success: Her employees herald Tassler’s discipline and focus; she says her strength is “the ability to be in the present moment but also keep an eye on the future.”
Up next: CBS has some high-profile projects in the works, including “Kingdom,” from director Barry Sonnenfeld; an adaptation of the British limited sci-fi series “Eleventh Hour,” from producer Jerry Bruckheimer; and “Yo,” a project from Salma Hayek and Julia Álvarez. Besides that, “I don’t know what the future holds. Just look at ‘Jericho,'” she says about the failing show that was saved by fans. “I now call it the ‘Jericho’ factor. There’s an element of pixie dust.”
President, NBC Universal International Television Distribution
At a glance: As president of NBC Universal International Television Distribution, Menendez oversees all TV sales and licensing of NBC’s film and television library.
Education: M.A., theology, University of St. Andrews, Scotland
Big deal: With a library that includes 55,000 television episodes and 4,000 feature films, the sheer mass of Menendez’s purview is extraordinary; still, the sale of “Heroes” to 150 countries followed by a cast world tour stands out.
Year in review: Traveling constantly between the 12 worldwide offices for which she is responsible, Menendez oversaw thousands of deals, including the sale of programming from Bravo and Sci Fi Channel. She also maintained crucial long-standing foreign relationships for shows like “House” and the “Law & Order” brand.
Key to success: “I think it’s my passion,” says Menendez. “I’ve been in this business for a very long time, and I still feel the same way as when I first started. But it’s also the team I work with; without them, my job would be impossible.”
Up next: Alas, it’s not a good night’s sleep. “I’m very blessed that I don’t need much,” admits the executive, who will soon begin the worldwide launches of the second season of “Heroes,” freshmen “Bionic Woman” and “Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style” and the midseason “Lipstick Jungle”; Menendez’ group has recently also added news to its portfolio.
At a glance: The entrepreneur has translated her boxoffice draw into a reputation as a heavyweight producer and tastemaker.
Education: Studied at Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City
Big deal: Hayek joined forces with MGM to establish her film studio, Ventanazul, which will both produce and acquire Latino-themed films aimed at mainstream audiences. The company plans to distribute two to four films a year. Hayek’s other company, Ventanarosa Prods., has an exclusive TV producing deal with ABC Studios.
Year in review: In addition to serving as executive producer of the award-winning “Ugly Betty,” Hayek’s guest appearances earned her an Emmy nomination; she also voiced a role in the Disney animated film “South of the Border.” As a producer, she is working with Julia Álvarez to develop “Yo,” a drama project about four Latino sisters, for CBS.
Key to success: Hayek respects and nurtures the Latino market while also understanding its mass appeal.
Up next: Ventanazul is developing “Bones Family,” the first feature from Mexican writer-directors Gabriel and Rodolpho Riva Palacio Alatriste; and “Diego Ascending,” Ligiah Villalobos’ English-language adaptation of the 2003 Israeli film “Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi.” Ventanarosa is developing a comedy by Issa López titled “La Banda.” Hayek is attached to star in an untitled romantic comedy for Disney, written by Ed Decter and John Strauss (2002’s “The Santa Clause 2,” 2006’s “The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause”).
General manager, MTV Tr3s
At a glance: As general manager of MTV’s new bilingual channel, MTV Tr3s, Ballas-Traynor has her finger on the pulse of America’s English- and Spanish-speaking youth.
Education: B.A., New York University
Big deal: Under Ballas-Traynor’s leadership, Tr3s – which launched unofficially only last September – is growing rapidly as a multiplatform channel with online and mobile offshoots.
Year in review: While the first ratings are just being gathered in the L.A. market, Ballas-Traynor spent the year establishing what she calls “an authentic voice” for the channel. “It’s been a challenge,” she admits, “because it’s nothing we’ve seen on television before. Programming has either been in Spanish or English.” One sure success is the reality show “Quiero mis quinces,” as well as the nascent interactive programming that allows audience members to text dedications and shout-outs.
Key to success: “Staying focused on the consumer with an understanding that goes beyond defining them just by language,” she says. “A lot of that comes from being a part of the audience database.”
Up next: Ballas-Traynor plans to develop more shows like “Quiero mis quinces” that hit what she calls “cultural passion points,” as well as new comedies; she’s also strategizing on how to expand interactive programming.
Executive VP and operating manager, Univision
At a glance: Falcón, Univision’s executive vp and operating manager, in the past 24 years has risen through the company’s ranks by displaying standout managerial skills and a keen eye for hit programming.
Education: B.A., communication, University of Miami
Big deal: In September 2007, Univision bested all English-language networks to capture the No. 1 network ranking among all adults 18-34, and Falcón’s leadership has been instrumental to Univision’s growing popularity.
Year in review: It’s been a banner year for both Univision and Falcón. The network was purchased by investor group Broadcasting Media Partners in March, the same month that “Nuestra belleza latina,” a 10-week combination beauty pageant/reality show whose winner received an on-air position at Univision, debuted. The show was such a hit for the network that Season 2 will be extended to 13 weeks. Falcón also oversaw a miniseries produced with Jennifer Lopez’s Nuyorican Prods. that will air later this year and a Spanish-language “Desperate Housewives” that promises to be a big hit when it debuts in early 2008.
Key to success: “The first key is a sense of passion for what we do. To succeed in the media management business requires an immense amount of dedication, and it surely helps to feel passion about what you do.”
Up next: Falcón is “very, very excited” about the big celebration plans surrounding the Premio Lo Nuestro music awards’ 20th anniversary next year.
Darlene Caamaño Loquet
President, NALA Films
At a glance: Caamaño Loquet, president of NALA Films, co-founded the company with Emilio Diez Barroso in 2005.
Education: B.A., communication with an emphasis in journalism, Azusa Pacific University; studied at Fordham University, media communications program
Big deal: Caamaño Loquet fulfilled a dream she’d had since first seeing “Crash” when she teamed up with writer-director Paul Haggis on his father-son drama “In the Valley of Elah,” starring Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, Susan Sarandon and Jason Patric.
Year in review: The company’s first project, Warner Bros.’ “In the Valley of Elah,” was released earlier this year. Buena Vista’s “Dan in Real Life” is set for release Oct. 26, and ThinkFilm’s “The Air I Breathe” is set for wide release in 2008.
Key to success: “I don’t take anything personally,” she says. “Hollywood’s tough, and you have to have your eye on the ball, and you have to keep that belief in yourself that you’re here for a reason and you’re going to succeed regardless of what’s being thrown at you and the obstacles.”
Up next: Upcoming projects from NALA include the comedy “Mr. Burnout,” the horror film “Open Grave,” the exorcism tale “Night of Light,” the Griffin Dunne-directed “Only Ever You” and the Spanish-language film “La Magdalena.” “I’ve just had my first baby, too!” says Caamaño Loquet. “So I’ve got a lot on my plate, but I love it.”
Senior VP drama series development, CBS
At a glance: Recently promoted to senior vp drama series development at CBS, Davis co-heads the network’s drama department, working with writers and producers to develop a roster of one-hour shows.
Education: B.S., UCLA
Big deal: Davis dedicated herself to Cynthia Cidre’s new series, “Cane,” starring Jimmy Smits, Hector Elizando and Rita Moreno. The show, about a family of Cuban immigrants in Miami, has the largest Hispanic cast ever to appear on network primetime television.
Year in review: Davis has also been involved in the development of the new dramas “Viva Laughlin,” “Moonlight” and the midseason replacement “Swingtown.” “It’s truly a groundbreaking year for us because we have been able to develop such a diverse slate,” Davis says.
Key to success: “I think it’s my passion for finding creative ways to tell stories that are engaging and important.”
Up next: Davis, who will continue working closely with the creators of the newly launched dramas, is developing another with Julia Álvarez and Salma Hayek called “Yo,” about four Latina sisters. As for other projects: “It’s early to talk about, but I can continue to promise a diverse slate,” she says. “It’s really important, both for the network and for me in particular.”
Senior executive VP strategy, Telemundo
At a glance: As senior executive VP strategy for Telemundo, Zel is responsible for overseeing its cable networks as well as marketing, digital media and new initiatives.
Education: J.D., Columbia University
Big deal: Zel shepherded Yahoo Telemundo, a partnership that combines Yahoo services with Telemundo content, to becoming a leader in the industry, reaching about 14 million Hispanics.
Year in review: Zel calls Mun2, Telemundo’s network aimed at young Latinos in the U.S., her “personal baby.” Under Zel’s leadership, Mun2 has become a financial asset to Telemundo (which is, in turn, owned by NBC). Zel also oversaw research and consumer marketing for the network, engineering deals with outside companies like Yahoo and iTunes to carry Telemundo content.
Key to success: Zel claims a triangulated approach to business is her strength. “It’s about listening, being innovative and empowering other people,” she says. “I have a fundamental respect for other people, and I live by what I believe.”
Up next: Her goal for the company: “Continuing to be a critical part of the NBC Universal family and an important asset to the Latino community,” says Zel. Look for more alliances with Universal’s theme parks and crossover content like Telemundo’s version of “Top Chef.”
Senior VP Latin membership, ASCAP
At a glance: As ASCAP’s senior vp Latin membership, Lioutikoff oversees five offices, signs new talent and promotes and protects Latin songwriters in the U.S.
Education: B.A., University of Granada, Spain
Big deal: Lioutikoff raised the profile of ASCAP’s Latin Music Awards, staging them in New York City’s Nokia Theatre and introducing categories for film and television.
Year in review: Lioutikoff, who is fluent in five languages, traveled frequently, recruiting talent to sign with the organization (ASCAP’s market share is around 60%). In addition to recognizing trends like Puerto Rico’s reggaetón, she established showcases for songwriters in the U.S. and set up networking to encourage them to move into Anglo TV and film.
Key to success: “This isn’t a nine-to-five business, so we work weekends, we work nights. You never know when you’re going to meet a songwriter. Also, I demand results, but I don’t micromanage.”
Up next: Increasing market share and educating songwriters. “The Latin industry isn’t old,” she says, “so the songwriters haven’t been used to thinking about it as a business.” In addition to continuing to sign established talent, “I also want to sign a couple of songwriters that are just starting and get them a couple of hits on the charts.”
At a glance: A famously hard-working actress, producer, singer and fashion designer, Lopez isn’t slowing down any of her entertainment or fashion endeavors anytime soon.
Education: Graduated from Preston High School in the Bronx
Big deal: Lopez’s Nuyorican Prods. has gone into overdrive this year, with multiple upcoming and already-released projects for both film and television.
Year in review: While Lopez’s first foray into film production, Picturehouse’s August release “El Cantante,” might not have been the commercial and critical success she hoped for, she has had plenty of other irons in the fire, including the MTV series “Dance Life,” Sony’s “Feel the Noise” and ThinkFilm’s “Bordertown,” all of which she produced. Her song “Qué hiciste” from her 2007 Spanish-language album, “Como ama una mujer,” was an international hit and reached No. 1 on the U.S. Latin and dance charts, and a new English-language album, “Brave,” debuts today. In September, Lopez expanded her fashion empire with her inaugural runway show for new clothing line JustSweet.
Key to success: “I only do what my gut tells me to. I think it’s smart to listen to other people’s advice, but at the end of the day, you’re the only one who can tell you what’s right for you,” Lopez has said.
Up next: Lopez is attached to produce and star in Sony’s 2008 release “The Governess.”
At a glance: The Cuban-American screenwriter behind 1992’s “The Mambo Kings” is storming the gates of primetime television with the CBS drama “Cane,” which chronicles three generations of a sugar and rum family dynasty.
Education: B.A., English, University of Miami
Big deal: As the creator and executive producer of “Cane,” the first Latino-themed drama on a broadcast network, Cidre has earned her place in history.
Year in review: “Cane” wasn’t the year’s only sweet spot: Cidre’s as-of-yet untitled assassin pilot is in development at CBS, and A&E picked up the female cop drama “Danny Fricke.”
Key to success: “‘Keep doing it’ is my advice,” she says. “I’d say that in the first 10 years, it was hurtful to put all that effort into a script and not have it be realized into a film. And then one day, I noticed that it was stupid to be hurt and whether it got made or didn’t get made was out of my control. And the other thing is that you get better every day. I read stuff I wrote six months ago, and I’m embarrassed.”
Up next: Cidre’s dance card is full for the foreseeable future. “You know how they have the new commercial, men of ‘Cane’?” she asks. “I am the woman of ‘Cane.’ I’m here all day long.”
At a glance: Since making the transition from television executive to full-time writer in 2001, Villalobos has become an equal force in Spanish- and English-language feature films and television.
Education: Studied at Brigham Young University
Big deal: After six years of sitting on the shelf, Villalobos’ script “La misma luna” (“Under the Same Moon”) was independently financed for less than $2 million; it was co-purchased at Sundance by the Weinstein Co. and Fox Searchlight for $5 million, becoming the festival’s highest sale for a Spanish-language film. The film is set for release in
Year in review: Villalobos completed her third season as a writer and executive producer on the Nickelodeon series “Go, Diego, Go!,” as well as writing its straight-to-DVD edition and companion book. She also wrote an English-language adaptation of the 2003 Israeli film “Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi” – “Diego Ascending” – for Ventazanul, Salma Hayak’s production company.
Key to success: “I’ve never had a job that I was qualified to do, but I always thought, ‘Why wouldn’t I be able to do it?’ I’m open to the possibility of what my life could be and to taking risks.”
Up next: Villalobos is currently pitching a television series, as well as working on another feature film.
At a glance: In a year when a triumvirate of Mexican directors – Alfonso Cuarón, Alejandro González Iñárritu and Guillermo del Toro – all made Oscar-nominated films, Torresblanco consolidated power as the president of production at Cuarón’s New York-based shingle, Esperanto Filmoj.
Education: B.A., film and media studies, Metropolitan University, Madrid; M.A., communication studies,
Universidad Complutense Madrid; M.A., literature and scriptwriting, Madrid’s School of Literature
Big deal: With more gumption than money, she produced del Toro’s passion project “Pan’s Labyrinth,” which won three Oscars.
Year in review: Torresblanco kept it mostly in the family, producing a documentary short by Cuarón titled “The Possibility of Hope” and feature directorial debuts from the auteur’s screenwriter brother, Carlos (the soccer dramedy “Rudo y Cursi”), and son Jonás (the love story “Año uña”).
Key to success: “There are two very important things,” she says. “One is discipline and the other one is passion. You need to find something that can really make you alive and happy.”
Up next: Torresblanco is currently developing “The History of Love,” which is being adapted by Mexican screenwriter Sabina Berman from the novel by Nicole Krauss, and a film version of Roald Dahl’s “The Witches.”
At a glance: The entrepreneur, creator of Fox’s “The Swan” and former director of entertainment at Telemundo is now launching a wellness, health and beauty reality television show called “The New You.”
Education: Studied English literature at Barnard College but left when she was offered a job in television
Big deal: Galán is in negotiations with NBC and Telemundo to air her new daily show, each of which will feature two women getting a complete makeover; they are then followed by cameras for a year.
Year in review: Galán bought the rights to Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s novel “The Dirty Girls Social Club,” which she’s developing with producer Debra Martin Chase; she also acquired formats and titles from Telemundo’s library that led to a deal with NBC Universal to create English-language novelas.
Key to success: “I have the perseverance, discipline and singular focus of a professional athlete,” says Galán. “Which isn’t to say I don’t sometimes wish I could give myself a lobotomy and not have those traits anymore.”
Up next: A successful real-estate developer on the side, the Cuban-born Galán intends to continue creating multiplatform, sponsor-driven brands in the Latin and Anglo markets. “Otherwise,” she explains, “you’re just a producer for hire.”
At a glance: The founder of Latina magazine and current CAA agent, Haubegger develops strategic enterprises for entrepreneurial clients like Salma Hayek and George Lopez.
Education: J.D., Stanford University
Big deal: Haubegger helped Hayek set up a ministudio at MGM and then brought her its first project, thanks to tracking down writer-directors Gabriel and Rodolpho Riva Palacio Alatriste, whose animated “Una película de huevos” is the second-highest-grossing film of all time in Mexico. Their first feature, the comedy “Bones Family,” will be produced by Lopez.
Year in review: Haubegger helped steer John Singleton to the agency and then toward a television production deal at Warner Bros. She scored Lopez’s “George Lopez Presents,” a straight-to-video line for Warner Bros., and worked closely with Shakira and Hayek. In addition, she compiles “The Latino Intelligence Report,” an ongoing research study owned by CAA.
Key to success: “I only look impressive because of CAA,” she insists. “I take advantage of the expertise they have to offer.”
Up next: “I’m still figuring this all out, so imagine what I can do once I know what I’m doing?” Haubegger says with a laugh. “But I have a lot of irons in the fire.”
Producer, VP production and development, David Kirschner Prods.
At a glance: In an industry where people change jobs almost as frequently as socks, Sienega is celebrating her 14th year working at David Kirschner Prods., where she is currently a producer and vp production and development.
Education: Studied at San Francisco State University, Cinema Department
Big deal: Fifteen years after Kirschner first read the script for “Miss Potter,” the biopic finally made it to the big screen in December 2006.
Year in review: “Miss Potter” earned a Golden Globe nomination for its star Renee Zellweger.
Key to success: “It’s so easy to get caught up in the political stuff or the showiness of it, but in the end, it’s just work hard and pursue stories that you really want to share with people,” she says.
Up next: New Line’s dramedy “Martian Child,” starring John Cusack, hits theaters Nov. 2. Films also in development include the comedy “Disappearance of Trout,” a horror film about two Mexican-American truckers mixed up in a vampire war and a drama based on the true story of the Miami Dade Community College chess team. “I’m thrilled to be developing a couple projects now that do have lead characters that are Latino,” says Sienega, who is of Mexican and Irish descent. “What I love to see more of is when somebody’s culture, background, race, sexuality becomes just one element of the character instead of the defining element.”
Senior VP special markets, Live Nation
At a glance: A longtime veteran of House of Blues Entertainment, Simonitsch, now senior vp special markets at Live Nation in Southern California, has been instrumental in capitalizing on the opportunity for expansion brought about by the company’s acquisition late last year by Live Nation, the world’s largest producer and promoter of live entertainment.
Education: Studied law and business at California State University, Los Angeles, and USC
Big deal: Simonitsch has been making impressive strides in growing the market for Latin music artists in Southern California, a feat for which the Los Angeles Times named her in its 2006 “Power Issue” as one of the “most powerful people in Southern California.”
Year in review: Simonitsch spent 2007 pursuing the same goal she’s been after for the last 25 years: Bringing Latin music to ever-expanding numbers of Southern Californians. The difference is that now, due to the resources and market reach of Live Nation, she has a much larger assortment of venues to fill. “I’ve always been an avid believer in booking anybody that wants to work at the right venue and the right price,” Simonitsch says, and because she considers booking someone into her venue like inviting someone into her home, she attends every show that she books.
Key to success: “Trust your gut feeling and stay focused on the values you consider important.”
Up next: In 2008, Simonitsch will be focused on producing more festivals and packaging artists together in order to gain more exposure.
Executive director of publicity, Arenas Entertainment
At a glance: Padilla, a Puerto Rican native and executive director of publicity at Arenas Entertainment, has been the brains behind some of the company’s highest-profile marketing successes since she joined the firm in 2002.
Education: Studied English at Hunter College, New York City
Big deal: Padilla had the unenviable task of selling 2006’s “Apocalypto,” a film criticized for its portrayal of the Mayan civilization, to Hispanic audiences. The film’s surprise No. 1 boxoffice opening and brisk DVD sales show that her hard work paid off.
Year in review: Padilla’s marketing campaigns frequently demonstrate impressively outside-the-box thinking. Faced with the challenge of selling Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” to the Latino community this summer, Padilla came up with the creative (and successful) idea of having Luis García, the film’s Mexican-American makeup artist, demonstrate his craft on Spanish-language talk shows by making the hosts up to look like pirates.
Key to success: “Someone very dear to me once told me that you’re only limited by your own creativity, and I’ve used that with great benefits. You set your own limits.”
Up next: Disney’s “South of the Border,” a project close to Padilla’s heart, is a “love letter to Mexico” about a spoiled Beverly Hills Chihuahua that gets lost, well, south of the border. The film features the voice talent of Drew Barrymore, Salma Hayek, George Lopez and a slew of Latino luminaries.
Executive director, NALIP
At a glance: During her six-year tenure as executive director of the nonprofit National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP), Galan has created several signature programs and transformed the organization into one of the preeminent resources for the Hispanic film community.
Education: B.A., English, Amherst College; M.A., film and television history, aesthetics and critical theory, UCLA
Big deal: Galan spearheaded the creation of a new program with the National Endowment for the Arts called “Doing Your Doc: Diverse Visions, Regional Voices,” a three-day workshop to develop more Latino, Asian, Native, Pacific Islander and African-American documentaries outside of New York and Los Angeles.
Year in review: Galan kept her calendar full with the Latino Writers Lab, the Latino Producers Academy, the Latino Media Market and NALIP Annual Conference, and the Latino Media Resource Guide.
Key to success: “I would say that my career interests generally and over the long-term have been inspired by one of (writer) Joan Didion’s most memorable apothegms: ‘We tell ourselves stories in order to live,'” she says. “As regards my work as a social activist, I’m fueled by the maxim: ‘If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.'”
Up next: In honor of NALIP’s 10th anniversary in March 2009, the organization plans to publish a study about Latino decisionmakers in Hollywood. “We’re really looking carefully at the Latino story, at Latino progress, at the ways that we’re making advancements in the various areas of the industry that are important to us,” Galan says.
At a glance: In 1996, the Peruvian-American visionary co-founded, with Edward James Olmos and George Hernandez, the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF), which evolved into the Latino International Film Institute (LIFI).
Education: Studied at New Orleans’ Loyola University, American Film Institute and UCLA Extension
Big deal: Besides supporting filmmakers, LIFI invests more broadly in the future through youth programs that incorporate audiovisual tools to promote literacy.
Year in review: In addition to LALIFF, a qualifying festival for the Academy Awards’ short-film category, the institute engages in preservation work and community outreach through audiovisual youth literary programs, a writing competition and the Latino Screenwriters Lab.
Key to success: “Perseverance and hard work,” she says. “I’m very clear about that. Perseverance. Having a vision. And it has not been by any means an easy road. It has been for me a great personal sacrifice. And I feel I have sacrificed much time with my son to pursue my dream and to be a financially responsible parent.”
Up next: “In a way, we want to be a Latino Sundance,” says Dermer, “not to replace them – I have a great respect for the Sundance Institute – but simply to enhance or bring or present more possibilities of
support, development and nurturing.”
President and founder, Imagen Foundation
At a glance: With the financial support of Norman Lear and Jerry Perenchio’s Embassy Communications, Hernandez, a former labor organizer, started the Imagen Awards and Imagen Foundation in 1985, which both provide access, education and resources for Latinos in entertainment.
Education: Studied at George Meany Center for Labor Studies, Washington, D.C., and Antioch College, New York
Big deal: This year marked the movement of the Imagen Awards from the Beverly Hilton to the Walt Disney Concert Hall – where 1,800 people attended the event.
Year in review: Imagen continued to fulfill its mission with annual events like the entertainment job fair and community workshops.
Key to success: “What I’ve learned, especially from Norman Lear, is not to be afraid,” she says. “When you’re committed and you know it’s the right thing to do, you do it. And you just keep your eye on the prize.”
Up next: On Oct. 15, Imagen will host a luncheon to honor the people on its new list of powerful Latinos in Hollywood. “What Imagen is doing now is really trying to create that mechanism to see where the Latinos are in the entertainment industry, not just the entry level but also at the upper echelons, so we can begin to share with the industry, ‘Look, this is who we are, and these are the contributions that we’ve made,'” says Hernandez.
At a glance: Chaidez, a consulting producer on Fox’s “The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” has made name for herself as a writer of strong female characters in a string of television shows loved by audiences and respected by critics.
Education: B.F.A., film, UCLA
Big deal: Chaidez spent last year co-executive producing and writing for NBC’s “Heroes” and received a WGA Award nomination for her troubles.
Year in review: Chaidez has been on a remarkable upward trajectory ever since she graduated from UCLA and joined the inaugural year of the Disney Fellowship program. She spent three seasons with Dick Wolf on “New York Undercover” and then moved on to “Judging Amy” and the short-lived “Heist” before landing “Heroes” in 2006. Having made a name for herself as a writer of “strong, kick-ass women,” Chaidez is currently bringing one of the toughest broads in action film history, the “Terminator” films’ Sarah Connor, to television with the spring 2008 series “The Sarah Connor Chronicles.”
Key to success: “It’s not the dog in the fight; it’s the fight in the dog.”
Up next: The film “The Spy Wore Red,” which Chaidez adapted from the book by Aline Romanos, is currently in development with Rachel McAdams and powerhouse producing team Kennedy/Marshall Co. attached.
Assistant VP writer-publisher relations, BMI Latin
At a glance: After being hired 11 years ago to open BMI’s Latin music office in Los Angeles, Orjuela has risen through the ranks to become assistant VP writer-publisher relations.
Education: B.A., broadcast journalism, California State University, Long Beach
Big deal: After a heated signing war, regional Mexican singer-songwriter Mariano Barba cast his fortunes with BMI.
Year in review: In addition to hosting the annual
Billboard Latin Conference & Awards and showcases like the Noche Bohemia and Verano Alternativo, Orjuela watched proudly as Argentine composer Gustavo Santaolalla – whom she has worked with for a decade – won his second Oscar for the score to “Babel.”
Key to success: “The Latin music community is a family pretty much,” she says. “And it’s just letting the songwriters know that they’re also part of another family with us at BMI. It’s not just about, ‘Now you’re a big star and let us work with you.’ We want to be here from the beginning, to help develop the artists and grow with them.”
Up next: “I guess my biggest project is that I’m having a baby!” says Orjuela. “Right now, I’m just very excited with the Grammy nominations, because a lot of our writers and artists got nominated.”
Director, Chaf Enterprises
At a glance: As the director of Chaf Enterprises, Vega has managed all aspects of Puerto Rican pop star Chayanne’s career – including endorsements, record contracts and tours – for a decade.
Education: B.A., social work, La Salle University, Bogotá, Colombia
Big deal: Chayanne’s first single, “Si nos quedará poco tiempo,” from his April 2007 album, “Mi tiempo,” has topped the charts all over Latin America. “We’ve released the second single, and it’s impossible to put it at No. 1 because the first one is still there!” says Vega.
Year in review: Vega booked the entirety of Chayanne’s current world tour. By its conclusion in March 2008, Chayanne and his team will have been on the road for 16 months, performing in 57 shows in more than 20 countries.
Key to success: “It is basically to believe in my artist and to fight for him,” she says, “and be surrounded by good people. When we are on the road, we are a group of 40 people, and I take care of everybody, and I receive only positive things from everybody. We try to serve people, and we receive the same. That is our philosophy here.”
Up next: Vega plans to open new markets after the tour ends in 2008. “Europe,” she says. “It’s one of my goals for next year.”
At a glance: The stunning host of two popular Univision shows – “Fuera de serie” and “A que no te atreves” – is successfully crossing over to the U.S. market.
Education: Studied dentistry at La Universidad Metropolitana Barranquilla, Colombia
Big deal: Vergara recently filmed a role in Tyler Perry’s “Meet the Browns.”
Year in review:While ABC’s “Knights of Prosperity” met with scarcity and cancellation, the 5-foot-7-inch Colombian model and actress has kept busy filming Perry’s film adaptation of his play “Meet the Browns”; marketing Mike Newell’s “Love in the Time of Cholera” (set for a November release) and other films to U.S. Hispanics through her company, Latin World Entertainment; executive producing and starring in the Latin-American version of “Desperate Housewives”; and creating jobs in her native Barranquilla through her “Vergara by Sofia” clothing line.
Key to success: “The most important thing is that you should never take ‘no’ personally,” she says. “It’s very hard: You have to become the character, act funny or sad or cry in front of these people you have just met, and then they tell you no. If you take it personally, you won’t have the strength to do it again and again and again, and that’s the way you book a job.”
Up next:ABC is looking for the next project on which the network and Vergara can collaborate.