Hollywood Reporter Names the Top 25 Latinos in Entertainment
From greenlighting movies to anchoring the most watched news program in L.A. (it's not in English), these leading execs and talent are changing Hollywood
This story first appeared in the Oct. 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
If demographic trends continue, in three or four decades, THR will be printing a list of the 25 most powerful Anglos in entertainment … and it'll be written in Spanish. For the time being, though, only a fraction of decision-makers in Hollywood are Hispanic, even though Hispanics are becoming a bigger and bigger part of the audience every year (by 2050, Latinos will make up 30 percent of the U.S. population). That makes the people on these pages all the more extraordinary: They've been able to accrue power -- defined here as the ability to impact the culture -- in an industry that doesn't always have an open-door policy toward minorities. After consulting with Latino and entertainment leaders and observers, THR ranked the top 25.
1. Nina Tassler
Chairman, CBS Entertainment
Her power only has continued to grow since her promotion from president in February. Overseeing TV's No. 1 network means that Tassler, 57, whose mother is Puerto Rican, has a huge influence over the consumption habits of a plurality of Americans (something she learned while developing the CSI and NCIS franchises more than a decade ago). She certainly started her new job right by presiding over CBS' drama-free late-night handoffs while shepherding a full summer slate and expanding emphasis on limited series and live events.
2. Cesar Conde
Executive vp, NBCUniversal
Conde, 40, left Univision in 2013 to become the highest-ranking Latino at NBCUniversal, where his job is to identify international opportunities, particularly in Latin America and Asia. But he's not just jetting around the globe scouting theme park locations; he also is reassessing the company's digital strategy. "As the Latino population has grown, so too have the opportunities," he says. "The trend of Hispanics being named to top roles in this industry is just the beginning."
3. Jennifer Lopez
Actress, musician, producer and chief creative officer of NUVOtv
J.Lo's empire covers every conceivable aspect of media and entertainment, both in front of and behind the camera as well as onstage and in the boardroom. Sure, her rom-com career hasn't exactly been flourishing (whose has?), but this summer saw the American Idol judge, 45, release her eighth studio album, A.K.A., as well as the official 2014 World Cup anthem "We Are One (Ole Ola)," recorded with fellow listmaker Pitbull (No. 17). Her production company Nuyorican Productions (a nod to her Puerto Rican-by-way-of-New York roots) is behind her upcoming starring vehicle The Boy Next Door, ABC Family's groundbreaking drama The Fosters (which earned Lopez GLAAD's Vanguard Award in April) and NBC's 2015 cop drama Shades of Blue, which has nabbed a straight-to-series order from the network. Nuyorican also has a slew of shows with NUVOtv, a millennial-focused English-language Latino cable network that named her its chief creative officer in 2013 (she owns a minority stake in the company). And then, of course, there are her branded businesses, which include a fragrance line (which has grossed nearly $2 billion since its 2002 launch) and a best-selling collection of apparel, accessories and home furnishings for Kohl's. Oh, and one more job description to add to her crowded nameplate: author, when her memoir, True Love, is released in November.
4. Alfonso Cuaron
After Gravity's $716 million worldwide gross -- and those Oscars -- Cuaron, 52, pretty much can write his own ticket in Hollywood. But the Mexican director had some trouble getting off the launchpad; 10 years ago, he was all but broke before J.K. Rowling handpicked him to direct the third Harry Potter movie.
5. Robert Rodriguez
Writer, director, producer and founder of El Rey Network
There are Latino directors whose films have made more money (see Alfonso Cuaron). There are Latinos whose TV ventures have been more high-profile (see Guillermo del Toro). But Rodriguez, 46, is the one filmmaker on this list who thinks most like a mogul. "People have always asked me how to get to Latinos' wallets," he says. "It was never about putting more Latinos in more shows. You've got to get them here" -- he touches his heart -- "by giving them characters to fall in love with." And now the guy who pretty much invented the super low-budget indie movie (shooting his breakthrough 1992 film El Mariachi for a mere $7,000, much of which he scrounged up as a guinea pig for new pharmaceuticals like Lipitor) has launched his own English-language crossover cable TV network, El Rey, with a $72 million investment from Univision and a war chest estimated at more than $100 million. It's still early going -- El Rey (Spanish for "The King") arrived on the dial just last year. But series like From Dusk Till Dawn (spun off from Rodriguez's extra-gory vampire films) are generating big-time buzz.
6. Guillermo del Toro
When he first came to Hollywood, "everyone tried to limit me to drama or comedy with a 'Latin' slant," says del Toro, 50. "But I wanted to be free to explore my worlds the way any other filmmaker did." Mission accomplished, with such films as Pan's Labyrinth (which won three Oscars) and Pacific Rim (a sequel is in the works). Plus, he now has added a hit TV show to his resume with FX's The Strain.
7. Armando Nunez
President-CEO, CBS Global Distribution Group
A member of Leslie Moonves' inner circle for 15 years -- "pound for pound, one of the best executives in town," his boss has called him -- Nunez, 53, oversees the global and domestic distribution of one of the biggest TV content libraries in the biz.
8. Alex Garcia
Executive vp production, Legendary Entertainment
Even before his promotion this year -- he's been at the studio since 2009 -- Garcia, 37, produced movies (Godzilla and Michael Mann's upcoming cyber thriller Blackhat) with an eye toward global domination. And now, with a $250 million infusion from SoftBank, he's certainly got the resources to think big. Latinos' growing industry role "mirrors the ever expanding marketplace," says Garcia.
9. Sofia Vergara
Vergara, 42, has turned her Modern Family celebrity into a booming industry, earning $30 million in endorsements, from Diet Pepsi to Kmart. She co-founded Latin World Entertainment, which in 2012 handled 87 percent of Spanish-language endorsements in America. "[People] think I have no idea what I can deliver," she recently said, "and [that] ends up costing them more."
10. Jorge Ramos
"He's our Walter Cronkite," says National Hispanic Media Coalition president and CEO Alex Nogales. Meaning that when Ramos, 56, talks, more than 2 million Spanish-speaking households across North America listen. In L.A., Ramos' program frequently has more viewers than the English-language newscasts.
11. Alejandro G. Inarritu
Though the jury still is out on Birdman (it closes the New York Film Festival on Oct. 11), there's already Oscar talk. But then there almost always is for Inarritu, 51, whose Biutiful and Amores Perros received foreign language nominations and whose Babel was nominated for best director and picture.
12. Zoe Saldana
With three Avatar sequels on the way, another Guardians of the Galaxy movie and Star Trek 3 in the works, Saldana, 36, arguably is the most successful action movie actress ever. But what she really wants to do is produce; her banner, Cinestar Productions, signed a first-look deal last year with Pantelion to develop film and TV projects for Hispanic audiences.
13. Emilio Azcarraga Jean
The 46-year-old Mexican billionaire ($3.1 billion net worth) controls 70 percent of Mexico's TV market and also has been busy up north -- with a Lionsgate joint venture and a five-year, 12-series production pact with Sony Pictures TV, not to mention his longtime relationship with Univision.
14. Eva Longoria
Since Desperate Housewives ended in 2012, the Mexican-American actress, 39, has kept busy producing. Her Universal-based UnbeliEVAble Entertainment is behind the primetime soap Devious Maids, which Lifetime has renewed for a third season.
15. Alberto Ciurana and Isaac Lee
Programming and content president, Univision; president, Univision News
On five nights in the last week of September, Univision beat at least one (sometimes more) of the big networks in the 18-to-34 demographic. Much of the credit for that goes to Ciurana, 58, and Lee, 43, who run the strongest units in North America's No. 1 Spanish-language network.
16. Luis Silberwasser, Jacqueline Hernandez and Jorge Hidalgo
President, Telemundo; chief marketing officer Hispanic Enterprises and Content, NBCUni; and executive vp sports, Telemundo
Silberwasser, 49, has one mission: Overtake Univision. Hidalgo, 51, has done his part, helping nab the World Cup from 2015 to 2022, while Hernandez, 48, serves as a bridge between Telemundo and parent company NBCUni.
Musician, record producer
"I don't think I do Latin music," says the multiplatinum 33-year-old singer, who had a single (with J.Lo) named the official song of the 2014 World Cup. "Call it global music if you want."
18. Eugenio Derbez
Actor, writer and director
He's the most famous Latino performer that non-Hispanics have never heard of. In fact, the 52-year-old Mexican has the highest Q-rating in the U.S. among Spanish-speaking Latinos. But he finally got Hollywood's attention in 2013, when his tiny $5.5 million bachelor-and-kid comedy, Instructions Not Included (which he wrote, directed and starred in) grossed more than $44 million, overtaking Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth as North America's most successful Spanish-language film. Soon, English-speaking audiences will get to know him, too: In September, he signed a first-look deal with Pantelion Films, the Lionsgate and Grupo Televisa joint venture that distributed Instructions, to develop Spanish- and English-language movies for Latino and crossover audiences in the U.S.
19. Roberto Orci
Orci, 41, has his hands in everything from Transformers and Spider-Man to Fringe and Sleepy Hollow, and is about to make his directorial debut with Star Trek 3.
20. Jose Valle, Raul Alarcon and Walter Ulloa
President, Univision Radio; president, Spanish Broadcasting System; chairman and CEO, Entravision
Together, these three men run a combined 144 Spanish-language radio stations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
21. Belinda Menendez
President, NBCU International TV Distribution & Universal Networks International
Menendez speaks multiple languages (Spanish being one, of course), which comes in handy for this exec in charge of NBCU's international channels as well as global distribution of its 100,000 TV episodes and 4,000 films.
As of this writing, the 37-year-old singer, who is in the middle of a 10-year, $30 million deal with Live Nation, is the most "liked" celebrity on Facebook (104.7 million).
23. Rita Tuzon
General counsel, Fox Network
Tuzon, 55, was Rupert Murdoch's mouthpiece in battles against Dish's Hopper and against former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt.
24. Soledad O'Brien
Her Starfish Media Group has deals with HBO and Al Jazeera America, and its PTSD doc The War Comes Home aired on CNN in August.
25. Marla Provencio
Executive vp marketing and chief marketing officer, ABC
"Early on, within executive suites, it was a challenge to find diverse women, let alone Latina women," says Provencio, who launched Agents of SHIELD and built Thursday night into Shonda Rhimes' empire. "Today, the industry is starting to reflect the world we live in."
Oct. 14, 6:48 p.m. Updated with new information about Belinda Menendez.