Latino journalists and media makers were honored at the Los Angeles Press Club’s 65th annual SoCal Journalism Awards Sunday night.
Veteran broadcast journalist Giselle Fernández and actor John Leguizamo were given special awards at the event that drew more than 500 journalists from across the region, including the Los Angeles Times, Variety and KTLA. CALÓ NEWS also was a finalist for one of the awards.
Fernández has worked in journalism for 40 years, including at CBS News, NBC News, Access Hollywood and KTLA. She has won five Emmy awards.
Actor Sharon Stone introduced Fernández. “Giselle herself is an original, a complete professional. For years she built a career in local and national network news. This was not in the beginning, when we were kids, very easy for a woman and less easy with a woman whose name was Fernandez,” Stone said at the event.
Fernández left broadcast news for a period and started her own company. In 2018, she came back to the field, joining Spectrum News 1 in Los Angeles.
“There was a time I tried so hard to get back into television. I missed it. I’m a storyteller. But mostly men in positions of power, many of whom who aren’t in power any more…(said) the business had passed me by, I was past my prime,” Fernández told the room full of journalists.
She was recruited by Cater Lee, Vice President, News and Content for Spectrum to go back to daily television. Fernández anchors the morning news and is host and executive producer of “LA Stories with Giselle Fernández.”
“It takes one person to believe in you and see you, it takes one person to take on ageism and sexism in the world of media and beyond and to break that culture,” she said.
Fernández said she is doing the best work of my career in her sixth decade.
“What we do, how we frame stories, it matters,” she said. “…Journalism matters. It is the pillar of our democracy.”
Actor John Leguizamo has long been a voice for Latinx representation in Hollywood and the media. His Tony-nominated play “Latin History for Morons,” jams 3,000 years of Latino history into a 90-minute one-man show.
This fall Leguizamo is hosting a three-part documentary on PBS called “American Historia.” Cultural segments will feature visits to historical sites and interviews with notable historians and Latino cultural figures.
“I went all over America looking for Latino exceptionalism. I know it’s everywhere. It’s in my family, it’s in my community. It’s my uncle, my cousins, everybody I know has some Latin exceptionalism,” Leguizamo said at the awards ceremony. “Except we’re the most excluded group in America even though we’re the largest and oldest ethnic group in America.”
Leguizamo explained that he, his friends and his son were bullied for being Latino.
“The rejection forced me to write and forced me to create my own stories,” he said. “I made it my mission to turn the stories of Latinos around to flip the script.”
CALÓ NEWS also was a finalist in the political commentary local online category for a piece that I wrote about the racism controversy and the Los Angeles City Council.