Standing before a unified community of Latino entertainers at HOLA’s 21st Annual Awards Ceremony, the 89-year-old Tony winner stated, “I will never forget that my story is an important one.”
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Reflecting on the milestone moment and her storied career, she went on, “To say I am a lucky girl is the understatement of the lifetime.”
Rivera, who has been navigating the waters of the entertainment industry for decades, started her groundbreaking work as a performer with the trailblazing role on Broadway as Anita in “West Side Story.”
Key casting in some of the greatest musicals in history, including parts in “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and Chicago,” led to her winning two Tony Awards out of a record-setting 10 nominations. Adding the HOLA Lifetime Achievement Award extends an impressive list of accolades like being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama, as well as being the first Hispanic woman to receive the Kennedy Center Honor.
Following the announcement that the prestigious HOLA award would be renamed in her honor, Rivera stood before a crowd that included Broadway performer Caesar Samayoa and “Queen of the South” actor Hemky Madera along with Ilka Advocacy Award winner, Emilio Sosa, and HOLA executive director, Pablo Andrade.
“It’s mind-boggling, frankly speaking, and extremely humbling,” a teary-eyed Rivera told the audience about the latest milestone achievement. “Each time I’m honored like this, it’s like the first time. Every time I hear accolades, I’m kind of shocked because I wake up every morning ambiguous. I just do what I do and that is it.”
The appreciation for the actor continued as she left the podium’s spotlight. Excited members of the LAByrinth Theater Company and The Latinx Playwrights Circle repeatedly bowed down and loudly called out to the iconic performer, “You are a goddess!”
The celebration continued with a showcase of performances by composer and winner of the 2022 HOLA Elisabeth Peña Breakthrough Artist Award, Jaime Lozano, and singers Florencia Cuenca and Shereen Pimentel.
“We lift each other up in this organization,” Samayoa told Variety on the carpet earlier in the night. “If you look around the room not only do you see the people whose shoulders we stand on, you also see people who are going to bring the next generation forward. It’s a remarkable time for us.”
The HOLA Awards annually are dedicated to praise East Coast Latino artists. Past honors have been given to Antonio Banderas, Lin-Manual Miranda, Bianca Marroquin, Alfonso Cuarón and Rosie Pérez. A focus on diversity initiative programming, HOLA advocates for expansion in presence and job opportunities while evoking positive change for Latinx artists in the entertainment industry.
Organizers and volunteers collectively hold workshops and mentorships throughout the year to promote success in the community, as well as provide a resource for New York casting directors and agents by hosting a talent database.
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