Muy Caliente! The National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts (NHFA) was once again one of Washington’s most vibrant fall galas.
By Michael M. Clements
The annual Noche de Gala event sizzled yet again this year at one of D.C.’s landmark hotels, the luxurious Renaissance Mayflower. Politicians, celebrities, and members of the media partied throughout the night to raise scholarship funds for emerging Latinos interested in working in the world of arts and entertainment.
The festivities actually kicked off the night before the gala at a salon dinner at Adrienne Arsht’s beautiful residence. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez and actress Giselle Itie were among those mingling and dinning at Arsht’s beautiful backyard affair.
The Gala demonstrated how a benefit can raise awareness while still being a deliciously good time. Esai Morales and Jimmy Smits were among the speakers who testified to the important role the Arts play in the Hispanic community. This year, the gala, which raises money for sponsorships, honored talk show host Cristina Saralegui with the 2010 Raul Julia Award for Excellence and up-and-coming star Giselle Itié with the Horizon Award. The dinner, underwritten by Ford Motor Company and The Nielsen Company, featured music by Grammy-nominated artist, Frankie Negrón.
Itié is currently co-starring in this year’s box office hit, “The Expendables,” which has grossed $220 million worldwide. The Mexican born, Brazilian-raised actress is best known for her role on Brazilian telenovelas, including TV Globo’s Ugly Betty version, Bela, a Feia. She is planning a year-long move from Brazil to Los Angeles to expand her already explosive career. Itié joins a prestigious group of previous Horizon Award recipients, including: Eva Longoria Parker; Wilmer Valderrama; Lin-Manuel Miranda and Michael Peña.
Harvard sophomore Eric Balderas was also acknowledged this year. “This past June, Balderas a full scholarship student majoring in molecular biology, went from representing the promise of our nation to a detained undocumented immigrant facing deportation,” says NHFA co-founder, Felix Sanchez. “After misplacing his passport en route to Boston, Balderas was detained for two weeks while under the threat of deportation to Mexico. Thanks to U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill, Balderas was granted deferred action by ICE on his immigration status. We wanted to highlight his plight tonight to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”
Even when the Gala stopped, the night carried on. VIPs made their way to the Gran Desvelada After Party at Dupont hot-spot Gazuza Lounge to ensure their noche ended on the right note. With music pulsing though the venue, guests couldn’t help but hit the dance floor – before taking at break at the hookah bar! The night ended like it began – with laughs, fun, and conversation.
In the Casa: Rep. Loretta Sanchez, Rep. Charles Gonzalez, Felix Sanchez, Merel Julia, Adrienne Arsht, Marcos Zurinaga and actors Benito Martinez, Aimee Garcia, Jesse Garcia and Jeremy Ray Martinez.
Hear what Brazilian star Giselle Itie had to say about winning the Horizon Emerging Star Award: