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National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts Honors Excellence

National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts Honors Excellence

The National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts is proud to present the 2019 Raul Julia Award for Excellence to former United States Secretary of Housing and Urban DevelopmentJULIAN CASTRO.Additionally, NHFA will present the Spotlight Award to JUSTINA MACHADO; MELISSA BARRERAand ALFONSO "PONCHO" HERRERAwill be honored with the Horizon Award. This year's NOCHE DE GALA takes place on Wednesday, September 18 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC. This Gala benefits the foundation's various activities that include its scholarship program.

"The Raul Julia Award for Excellence acknowledges the person or institution who is making a critical difference for Latinos in media and/or entertainment," said Felix Sanchez, NHFA Chairman, and Co-founder. "Secretary Castro is an aspirational figure who validates our American Dreams, both big and small, reminding us all that anything is possible in this great nation we call home. The evening celebrates the Nextgen Latinx ready and waiting in the wings for their turn on the world stage."

ALYSSA FRITZ, who is attending University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts graduate program studying Film and Television Master of Fine Arts, has been selected to speak on behalf of the 2019 Scholarship recipients. The Noche de Gala dinner, underwritten by Ford Motor Company and co-underwritten by Charter Communications, will feature guest speakers Congressman TONY CARDENAS, Senator BOB MENENDEZ and PATRICIA HARRISON, President and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, as well as a special performance by AMERICAN IDOL Season 17 Finalist ALYSSA RAGHU.

"Ford is committed to upholding our company's legacy in the arts and is proud to partner with NHFA for more than 20 years," said Joe Ávila, community development manager, U.S., and Latin America, Ford Motor Company Fund. "Together with NHFA, we are committed to bringing more community awareness to young Latinos in the industry by providing scholarships to star students from arts and performance schools across the country."

Founded by actors Jimmy Smits, Esai Morales, Sonia Braga, Merel Julia, as well as Washington D.C. attorney Felix Sanchez, the NHFA addresses the underrepresentation of Hispanic-Americans in entertainment through education initiatives, audience and industry outreach, content and talent development, diversity and civil rights advocacy.

NHFA, with support from the District of Columbia's Mayor's Office of Latino Affairs (MOLA), presents PitchDC2019, an effort to bring together Latino-themed content creators and diverse media platforms with a goal of jumpstarting contemporary Latino film, TV and web content. NHFA and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will host The State of Latinos in Entertainment at the IDB, for a morning of advice from industry professionals, followed by an afternoon of content pitch meetings with industry reps. Bell Multicultural High School students interested in the media arts will attend the PitchDC panel. The event is open to the public.

The Gala brings together the best of Washington and the country – Members of Congress and the diplomatic Corps, Hispanic Celebrities and Entertainers, Administration officials, members of the media, and various community advocates – all in support of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts (NHFA).

Honored guests are also set to include: California Congressman Tony Cardenas, New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, Patricia Harrison, President & CEO, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, David Kenny, President and CEO, Nielsen, Juan Manuel Pérez Dávila, Executive Director, Fundación Santo Domingo, Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro, Texas Congressman Vicente Gonzalez, Maria Elena Salinas of CBS News, Eréndira Ibarra, actress for Netflix's Sense8, Ramon Rodriguez, actor in Transformers, Maity Interiano of Despierta America for Univision, Dinner co-chairs: Congressman Tony Cardenas, Gloria Rodriquez, Jim Vella, Laura Berrocal, Lyndon K. Boozer, Susie Santana, Celeste Carrasco, Maria Cardona, Ginny Grenham, Jessica Herrera-Flanigan, Rakela Ruperez and Patti Solis Doyle.

About Julian Castro:
Julian Castro is an American politician who served as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama's administration and was the mayor of his hometown of San Antonio, Texas.

About Justina Machado:
Justina Machado is an American actress best known for her roles in the sitcom One Day at a Time, thriller movie Torque, and television drama Six Feet Under. Machado comes from a Puerto Rican family and grew up in Chicago. In 1996, the actress moved to Los Angeles where doors opened for her professionally. In 2001, her first big break was being cast in the HBO show, Six Feet Under as Vanessa Diaz. From there, she went on to play roles in Torque, ER, Welcome to the Family, and most recently Jane The Virgin. Machado will be starring in season five of NBC's show Superstore. Machado works with PADRES Contra El Cáncer, a nonprofit organization committed to improving the quality of life for children with cancer and their family members. And she is an avid supporter of Planned Parenthood.

About Melissa Barrera:
Melissa Barrera can be seen starring as 'Lyn' in STARZ's critically acclaimed series Vida which was just renewed for a third season. Barrera is currently in production on Warner Bros' movie adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda's Broadway musical In the Heights. The movie is being directed by Crazy Rich Asiansfilmmaker Jon M. Chu and stars Anthony Ramos and Corey Hawkins. Additionally, Barrera has also been set to star as the title character in Carmen, opposite Jamie Dornan for Sony Pictures Classics. The modern-day reimagining of the classic opera will mark the feature debut of Black Swan choreographer Benjamin Millepied and will feature music from Oscar-nominated music composer Nicholas Britell (Moonlight) and Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Julieta Venegas.

About Alfonso 'Poncho' Herrera:
Alfonso 'Poncho' Herrera is arguably one of Latin America's widely known talents, backed by years of remarkable performances in television and film. His stardom was first introduced by his leading role in one of the most successful television series in the history of Latin America, Rebelde. With the success of Rebelde, it launched the musical career of RBD. He has since appeared in films including Amarte Duele, Venezzia, Espectro, La Dictadura Perfectaand El Elegido Herreraalso starred in the Fox television adaptation of The Exorcist.

About Alyssa Raghu:
Alyssa Raghu is an American singer/songwriter from Orlando, Florida, of Guyanese/Indian and Mexican heritage who recently took her talents to the stage for American Idol, Season 1 ABC. Often compared to Ariana Grande, Adele, and Christina Aguilera, Alyssa Raghu favors pop music but is flexible in her repertoire. She has been singing her entire life and knew when she was 11-years-old that she wanted to pursue music as a career. When she turned 15, she began training with a vocal coach to focus on her goals. Alyssa also plays the guitar and writes her own music. She is currently staying very active performing at various shows and events around the country. Alyssa is also heavily involved in her musical theatre program in high school and aspires to pursue a career in acting as well.

About National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts:
Founded by actors Jimmy Smits, Esai Morales, Sonia Braga, Merel Julia, as well as Washington D.C. attorney Felix Sanchez, the NHFA addresses the underrepresentation of Hispanic-Americans in entertainment through education initiatives, audience and industry outreach, content and talent development, diversity and civil rights advocacy.

In keeping with their dedication to education and the arts, in their 21-year span, the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts has provided over $10 million in mentoring and outreach, including college scholarships to more than 375 Hispanic Students from eight elite universities and colleges. Such beneficiaries include young and emerging talent such as NYU's award-winning director Alfonzo Gomez-Rejon (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, 2015), and Yale's Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, whose writing credits include television shows Glee,BigLove, Looking, as well as films Carrie(2013), The Town That Dreaded Sundown(2014) and spiderman on Broadway, NYU's Rashaad Ernesto Green, Gun Hill Road (2011) and Reinaldo Marcus Green, Stop (2015) and Sundance Institute Grant recipient (2017).

The National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts also honors those who have and who continue to directly influence the industry, furthering the presence of Hispanic-Americans in the entertainment industry. The Raul Julia Award for Excellence, named after the late actor and activist, is presented to the organization or individual whose work most advances the presence of Latinos in television and/or film. Rita Moreno, Lynda Carter, Benito Martinez, Demian Bichir, Roberto Orci, Robert Rodriguez, Sandra Bullock, Elizabeth Vargas, Gregory Nava, Kenny Ortega, John Singleton, Richard Parsons, and Cristina Saralegui have all received this honor. The Horizon Award was established thirteen years ago to recognize rising stars that are both redefining and directly altering the direction of the industry. Past recipients include actors Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ryan Guzman, Ana Villafañe, Juan Pablo Raba, Michael Peña, Gisele Itie, Wilmer Valderrama, Gina Rodriguez, Eva Longoria, and Cristela.