SAAHJ to honor actor Xolo Maridueña with new award at 25th annual gala, highlighting impact of Latinos in Hollywood

The San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists (SAAHJ) will present actor Xolo Maridueña with the inaugural Estrella de Esperanza Award at its 25th Anniversary Scholarship and Awards Gala on Aug. 5 at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.

The press conference will begin at 5 p.m. in the upstairs lounge at the Tobin on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2023. Persons available for interview are: Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Actor Xolo Maridueña, 2021-23 SAAHJ President Laura Garcia and Lindsey Villarreal, a former SAAHJ scholarship recipient, television writer and WGA member based in Los Angeles. Both Maridueña and Villarreal are currently on strike.

Xolo Maridueña

The Estrella de Esperanza Award was created to honor an individual for serving as a rising star and providing hope for Latinos, in this case for more robust and meaningful Latinx representation in film and tv. Maridueña plays the lead role of Jaime Reyes in DC Comics’ “Blue Beetle” – the first standalone live action title to feature a Latino lead as a superhero. He is also known for his role as Miguel Diaz in the hit Netflix series “Cobra Kai.”

“Latino consumers deserve to see themselves represented on screen. We have long been relegated to stereotypes and one-dimensional characters in films and movies,” SAAHJ President Laura Garcia said. “We felt it was important to highlight some of the strides that Latinos have made in U.S. media, particularly in Hollywood, where we have seen greater representation. But I also want to call attention to the fact that we want more roles and shows created by and featuring Latinos. The entertainment industry has a long way to go when it comes to true inclusion of our gente.”

Congressman Joaquin Castro, a longtime supporting SAAHJ member, has worked to shine a light on this troubling lack of diversity and called for the Government Accountability Office to report on the underrepresentation of Latinos in the American media industry, including the film, television, news, and publishing sectors.

John Leguizamo

According to the reports, Latinos had a speaking role in less than 5% of movies. Of these characters, nearly 50% were criminals or “angry.” These negative depictions are often the only images that millions of Americans see. Even when positive stories do get told, they are often overlooked by the awards shows that could encourage more production.

Generations of Latino actors have felt forced to change their name, even their appearance, to be included in roles, forfeiting their heritage and robbing our community of role models and dreams of being seen on- screen.

SAAHJ will award actor John Leguizamo the Corazón de Oro Award, a national award honoring an individual in the arts whose work or leadership has made an undeniable impact on Latinos. Previous awardees include Maria Hinojosa, Jim Acosta and Robert Rodriguez.

Uvalde Leader-News

Also at the event, the nonprofit will celebrate its 2023 scholarship recipients and will award Diana R. Fuentes with the Henry Guerra Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Journalism and the staff of the Uvalde Leader-News with the Community Service Award.

Diana R. Fuentes

The SAAHJ Gala is the organization’s signature fundraising event.

The gala honors the achievements of Hispanic journalists in the San Antonio area and raises money to support SAAHJ’s programs and scholarships.

This year SAAHJ will award $65,000 in scholarships to 14 San Antonio area students pursuing careers in journalism and communications.

About the San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists

Established in 1987, the San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists helps newsrooms and the communications industry better reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.

Media Contact: Melanie Mendez-Gonzales, 210-459-3595

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Madison Iszler