September 21, 2001

2001 Hispanic Heritage Awards

Star-Studded Gala Celebrates 15th Anniversary

The Hispanic Heritage Awards Foundation has announced the recipients of its coveted 2001 Hispanic Heritage Awards. Widely regarded as the most prestigious honor in the Hispanic community, the Awards are presented annually to five Hispanics in different areas of achievement—arts, literature, leadership, education and sports, and have come to symbolize the enormous impact Hispanics have in every area of American society. The program celebrates its 15th anniversary this year with a gala that promises to be a passionate and memorable celebration, featuring a sizzling line-up of Hispanic talent, celebrities and national leaders. The gala will be held in our nation's capital at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on August 25, and will broadcast as a one-hour special on NBC Television Stations on September 22 (7 PM, ET/PT).

"As we celebrate our 15th year, the U.S. Census confirms the increasing numbers of Hispanics participating in every facet of the American experience," said Raul R. Tapia, Chairman of the Hispanic Heritage Awards Foundation, "Today we name the 2001 Hispanic Heritage Award Honorees —individuals who join our long list of Hispanic Heroes." The 2001 Hispanic Heritage Awards Honorees are:

Judith Baca

Judith Baca (Los Angeles, CA) for Education — combines art and education in her fight against racism, segregation and sexism. Among her best known works is the renowned, half-mile long Great Wall of Los Angeles, which traces the history of California, incorporating images of farm union organizers, black activists fighting for equal housing, and the plight of Japanese-Americans interned during World War II.

Liz Balmaseda (Miami, FL) for Sports — became the youngest player to win a U.S. Open match at the tender age of 14. Despite enormous pressure, she delayed beginning her professional tennis career, opting instead to remain in school where she juggled academics and sport with ease and excellence. Over the years, her career has been hindered by a series of injuries and illnesses, but her resilience, and tenacity has enable the tennis champ to regain her momentum after each setback, making her a role model for youths everywhere.

Gregory Nava (Los Angeles, CA) for the Arts — is Hollywood's noted director/writer who has created numerous groundbreaking films on Latino topics. His various honors include an Academy Award nomination for his film, El Norte. He co-wrote and directed the acclaimed film My Family/Mi Familia with Jennifer Lopez received a Golden Globe nomination. He is currently executive producer of the PBS series American Family and is developing a film for Disney about the life of Mexican revolutionary hero Emiliano Zapata, staring Antonio Bande-ras.

Christina Saralegui (Miami, FL) for Leadership — is one of the most trusted and influential voices in the Hispanic world. The journalist and talk show host reaches an audience of over 100 million people worldwide through her Spanish-language talk show El Show de Cristina, her radio show and her monthly magazine. Over the years, she has used her many forums to raise awareness of tough issues traditionally considered taboo in the Hispanic community, such as AIDS, sex, domestic violence and homosexuality. Recognizing Cristina's mass appeal, NBC recently invited her to appear on their daytime drama "Passions."

This year's Awards features some of the country's brightest talents and leading personalities coming together to pay tribute to the five Honorees. Co-Hosted by supermodel Patricia Velasquez, the awards show will feature a musical tribute performed by Latino super-star Gloria Estefan, music by The Miami Sound Machine, and performances by other hot musical talent.

The Hispanic Heritage Awards Foundation is credited with spearheading the growing recognition of Hispanic achievement in the U.S. through The Hispanic Heritage Awards, which over the last 15 years has grown into a major national event with the star-studded Awards ceremony being broadcast for the past six years on NBC television stations. In addition to the Hispanic Heritage Awards, the Foundation honors the achievements of Hispanic high school students with its Youth Awards, which began in 1998. Since then, the program has grown to award over a half million dollars in grants. This year, the Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards program honored 84 students across the U.S. in twelve cities (Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, San Jose and Washington, D.C.). From that pool, seven outstanding young men and women have been selected as the National Winners of the Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards. They will be introduced onstage at the Kennedy Center and presented with their Awards.

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