Gina Rodriguez, Wilmer Valderrama Highlight Paley Center Tribute to Hispanics in TV
The event also featured a touching tribute to Desi Arnaz by the late star's daughter, Lucie.
Latino luminaries joined the Paley Center for Media's Tribute to Hispanics in Television, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
The event honored Hispanic stars in sports, journalism, music, comedy and drama and had such stars as Oscar De La Hoya, Hector Elizondo, Andy Garcia, Eva Longoria, Jorge Ramos, Gina Rodriguez, Prince Royce, Jimmy Smits, Cheech Marin and Wilmer Valderrama in attendance.
"When I first got [That 70's Show] back in 1998 there were zero Latinos on the Fox network," Valderrama told The Hollywood Reporter. "Slowly, I was able to see the evolution — more and more you see the development."
De La Hoya, Smits, Valderrama and others presented short clips compiled by the Paley Center from decades of television that showcased Hispanic talent over the years. The center's Hispanic Collection spans over 70 years and features over 550 unique programs and segments, including a tribute to the longest running variety show in television history, Univision’s Sabado Gigante.
Emmy-winner Hector Elizondo, who has been working in Hollywood for five decades, commented on the change he's seen over the span of his career. "Of course I've seen things change," he said. "Little by little, changes have been made. It's good to see that folks like me took the heavy punches," he quipped.
"I am inspired and empowered by every single person that's here," Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez told THR. "I think representation in any field is important because it gives the younger generation a blueprint to the kinds of journeys they want to go on. Nobody knew they could run the four-minute mile until they ran it."
The night's most memorable moment came during a tribute to the late Desi Arnaz, husband to Lucie Ball and innovator of such breakthroughs as the first use of the multi-camera setup in front of a live audience, still used in television comedies today.
Oscar-nominated actor Garcia introduced Arnaz's daughter, Lucie, who gave a heartfelt tribute to her father. "I'm so very, very proud that the Paley Center has the entire I Love Lucy collection, forever preserving my father's contributions to Hispanic achievements in television and available for generations to enjoy," Arnaz told the crowd.
"I don't necessarily feel like I have to carry any torch for him," Arnaz said to THR before the show. "He didn't try to. He didn't set out to change the face of television. He just wanted to stay close to my mother so they could have a family."