Gran exito

Julie Torres

ALFONSO CUARON, 42DIRECTORCuarón received acclaim in his native Mexico, for his work on the 1991 film Solo Con Tu Pareja. Sydney Pollack, impressed by Cuarón, hired him to direct an episode of the 1993 Showtime “Series Fallen Angels.” In 1995, “A Little Princess” marked Cuarón’s directorial debut in the United States. Cuarón went on to direct “Great Expectations,” starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke. Most recently, Cuarón directed the sexually charged Y Tu Mama Tambien and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. – Did you know Cuarón’s favorite color is green. Cuarón uses the color throughout his films.- He says “The other day, I joked, ‘Give me a sex scene! Somebody, please get naked.’

ELLEN OCHOA, 46ASTRONAUTMexican American Ellen Ochoa became the first Hispanic woman accepted into the NASA program. In 1993, Ochoa entered space on the shuttle Discovery. Ochoa has spent over 700 hours in space. Prior to her space travel, Ochoa helped develop optical systems for information processing. Ochoa is named co-inventor on three patents. Ochoa has received several honors from NASA, including two Space Act Tech Brief Awards (1992), Outstanding Leadership Medal (1995), The Exceptional Service Medal (1997) and the Space Flight Medals (1999, 1994, 1993). Ochoa seizes opportunities to speak to youth about her career and success. Did you know Ochoa, a classical musician, brought her flute on her first mission.She says “What everyone in the astronaut corps shares in common is not gender or ethnic background, but motivation, perseverance and desire – the desire to participate in a voyage of discovery.”

GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ, 76AUTHOR AND JOURNALISTThis Colombian-born author and journalist’s claim to international fame was his 1967 novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” Márquez defined the genre of “magical realism.” In 1982, Márquez was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Despite his success as a novelist, Márquez refers to himself as “a journalist who occasionally writes novels.” Throughout most of his life, Márquez worked as a reporter in Latin America. When Márquez was hospitalized for exhaustion in 1999, he learned he had lymphatic cancer. The diagnosis did not stop his writing. This year, on Oct. 27, the novel “Memoria de Mis Putas Tristes” will be released. The book will be available in Spanish only, but look for the English translation, “Memories of My Melancholy Whores,” in the future.Did you know Márquez’s proposed to his wife Mercedes when they were both 13. They married 14 years later.He says “Poets and beggars, musicians and prophets, warriors and scoundrels, all creatures of that unbridled reality, we have had to ask but little of imagination, for our crucial problem has been a lack of conventional means to render our lives believable. This, my friends, is the crux of our solitude.”

SHAKIRA RIPOLL, 27SINGER AND MUSICIANShakira was born in Colombia to a Lebanese father and Colombian mother. Shakira wrote her first song at age eight and by 13, she landed a recording contract with Sony. Shakira released her first album, “Magia” (Magic), in 1991. “Magia,” and Shakira’s second album, “Peligro” (Danger), did not enjoy much success. In 1996, Shakira released “Pies Descalzos.” It topped the charts. Shakira’s follow-up production, “Dónde Están Los Ladrones?” was a hit. In 2000, Shakira won the Latin Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Shakira successfully crossed over, the following year, with “Laundry Service,” her first English release. Shakira is the youngest ambassador of the United Nations Children Fund and the founder of the Pies Descalzos Foundation, an organization which seeks to aid children in Colombia and third world countries. “Live & Off the Record,” a DVD and CD package of concert footage and Shakira’s most popular songs, is now being sold. Shakira’s next album is scheduled to be released in 2005.Did you know In Arabic, Shakira’s name means “woman full of grace.”She says “I’m always trying to escape from the pressure of expectation.”

ALEX “A-ROD” RODRIGUEZ, 29PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL PLAYERBorn in New York to Dominican parents, Alex Rodriguez made his major league debut at 18 as a shortstop for the Seattle Mariners. He did not fare well his first season, but that soon changed. Two years later, Rodriquez hit .358 with 36 home runs, 123 RBIs, 141 runs scored and 54 doubles. At 20, Rodriguez became the 14 youngest player to make the All-Star team. In 1999, Rodriguez joined Barry Bonds and Jose Conseco as a member of the 40/40 club (40 home runs and 40 stolen bases). Rodriguez left the Mariners for a 10 year, $252 million contract with the Texas Rangers. He currently plays third base for the New York Yankees. Did you know Rodriguez gets his hair cut every ten days.He says “Why do people sing ‘Take Me Out to The Ballgame’ when they’re already there?”

CRISTINA SARALEGUI, 56TALK SHOW HOST AND JOURNALISTKnown as “Cristina,” the Cuban-born talk show host began her career as a journalist after joining Miami’s exile community. Cristina served as editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan En Español from 1979 to 1989. She went on to become executive producer and host of “The Cristina Show,” which has won 14 Emmys. She co-published a monthly magazine titled Cristina La Revista and now hosts a radio program on ABC Radio International. Cristina and her husband, Marcos Avila, founded the “Arriba la Vida” (“Up With Life”) Foundation, which seeks to spread AIDS awareness among the Hispanic community, in 1996.Did you know Christina appeared in nine episodes of the soap opera “Passions,” in 2001.She says “Americans have to understand that we are here, and we are Americans.”

CARLOS SANTANA, 57MUSICIANSantana is the Mexican-born artist who has wowed audiences with his guitar.He moved to the United States in 1961 and five years later formed the Santana Blues Band. Santana released his self-titled debut album in 1969. It sold more than 4 million copies. Santana’s next album, “Abraxis,” produced the hits “Oye Como Va” and “Black Magic Woman.” He has 14 gold and nine platinum albums under his belt and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. “Supernatural” marked Santana’s return to the music scene in the late 1990s. He collaborated with such artists as Rob Thomas and Wyclef Jean. In 2000, Santana took home eight Grammys for “Supernatural.” Santana’s latest album, “Shaman,” features Seal, Michelle Branch, Dido and Placido Domingo.Did you know Santana has his own line of shoes called “Carlos.”He says “Everybody gets wet when it rains, from the prostitutes to the Pope. My music strives to communicate that message of unity.”

NYDIA VELAZQUEZ, 51CONGRESS MEMBERNydia M. Velázquez is the first Puerto Rican woman in Congress. She was elected to the House of Representatives in 1992. Velázquez made history again in 1998 when she became the Ranking Democratic Member of the House Small Business Committee, making her the first Hispanic woman to head a committee in the House. Currently, she represents the 12th District of New York. Velázquez is a proponent of equal rights and economic opportunities for the poor and working class.Did you know She was recently named “Woman of the Year” by Hispanic Business Magazine for her work in the political and business world.She says “Being a Latina elected official has not been easy. I don’t vote the way they want me to, don’t play by the rules . The needs of my community come first.”

MARIO KREUTZBERGER, 64television personalityDon Francisco is a household name for millions of Hispanic families. The Chilean-born television host’s real name is Mario Kreutzberger. His parents fled to Chile from Germany to escape Nazi persecution. In 1962, he started a television show in Chile named “Sábados Gigantes.” The variety show added an international version, which is now hosted by Kreutzberger in Miami. His daugher, Viviana, hosts the show in Chile. The original “Sábados Gigantes” celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2002. Kreutzberger plans on retiring the day he dies.Did you know The Guinness Book of World Records named “Sábados Gigante” the longest-running weekly television show in 1992. He says “I know I strike a familiar chord with people that allows them to feel like my very close personal friends, so much so that they are willing to wait two or three hours to meet me.”

ROSARIO DAWSON, 25ACTRESSDawson began acting at 15 when director Larry Clark spotted her near her apartment building and cast the girl of Cuban, Puerto Rican, African American, Native American and Irish descent in the 1995 film “Kids.” Dawson then landed roles in “He Got Game,” “Light It Up,” “Down to You” and “King of the Jungle.” Dawson’s role in “Josie and the Pussycats” gave her exposure as a rising star, and roles in “Men in Black II” and “25th Hour” followed. Dawson will be seen next in “Alexander.” This year, Dawson co-founded Vote Latino, which encourages Latino youth to get involved in the political process. Did you know Dawson dated Joshua Jackson of “Dawson’s Creek.”She says “I get to try on a different personality and appreciate that we choose who we are all the time.”