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Documentary shines light on nation’s successful Hispanics

Laura Wides-Munoz
Journal Gazette
Sep 28, 2011

MIAMI – Let’s see, leading Hispanic actors on mainstream TV: There’s Sofia Vergara’s wacky, chess-playing trophy wife on “Modern Family”; the conniving Eva Longoria of “Desperate Housewives”; and supporting actors such as Adam Rodriguez who plays a fingerprint and underwater recovery expert on “CSI: Miami.”

After that, the list thins considerably.

Stepping into that space is “The Latino List.” The new documentary by Vanity Fair contributing photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders airs tonight and Thursday on HBO and HBO Latino and features interviews by award-winning broadcast journalist Maria Hinojosa with some of the nation’s most successful Latinos. Hinojosa has worked at CNN, NPR and PBS, and elsewhere.

Longoria, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, rapper Armando Christian Perez (aka Pitbull), astronaut Jose Hernandez and actress America Ferrera are just a few of the 15 who made the list. The interviews are compelling, funny and raw.

Ferrera, the former star of TV’s “Ugly Betty,” talks about the discrimination she faced both because she is Hispanic and because others felt she isn’t Hispanic enough. Hernandez recalls picking cucumbers as a kid with his migrant worker parents.

Many of the stories touch on the immigrant experience, but themes of family, education and determination will likely resonate far beyond the nation’s Latino community.

The film follows Greenfield-Sanders’ acclaimed 2008 “The Black List,” a series of three documentaries featuring African-American leaders interviewed by journalist Elvis Mitchell. Like “The Black List,” “The Latino List” is accompanied by a larger photography exhibit now on display at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

“Maria Hinojosa is an amazing interviewer and got me to go places I might not have gone on my own,” said U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., who is in the film. “I think it will give non-Latinos a way to better understand who we are, and hopefully give Latinos a sense of pride.”

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