Tag Archives: Lisa Vidal

A Latino POTUS on NBC’s The Event? Science Fiction Rocks

The Event First Family Of all the new shows this season on American television, the one I looked forward to the most was NBC’s The Event. Not only is it science fiction and potentially conspiracy related, but it has a solid cast and a Latino First Family (!!!).  So did I like it? Why yes I did! After watching the first two episodes, I found it has the mystery of The 4400 (which has some similarities) and LOST before we started to wonder if the writers knew what they were doing. Unfortunately The Event is flashback heavy- it makes the storytelling unnecessarily convoluted.  I’m hoping that this frenetic jumping around will simmer down soon because it will get old fast. The story doesn’t need more help in being complicated.

[Skip this paragraph to avoid spoilers] So what’s it about? Well so far, a group of individuals with advanced physiology and technology are kept prisoner in an Alaskan facility at Mount Inostranka (meaning foreigner/alien in Russian). After 60 years, the U.S. President learns of these people (let’s call them the Inostranka Group). He tries to get them out but events in the first two episodes change his mind. The Inostranka Group has people outside, and, tired of waiting, are poised to react, possibly violently. Usually these stories have an average character who gets thrust into the middle of things- someone to root for. In this case it’s Sean Walker (Jason Ritter), a guy who just wants to propose to his girlfriend but all this conspiracy stuff gets in the way.

The Event features a U.S. President of Cuban descent, President Elias Martinez (Blair Underwood), the First Lady Christina Martinez also of Cuban heritage (Lisa Vidal, Puerto Rican) and their son, David (Sayeed Shahidi). There is  another Latino actor in the series besides Vidal- Gonzalo Menendez (of Cuban heritage). He plays an Air Marshal called Gonzalo MenendezDan Taylor- a minor character listed in 4 episodes on IMDB. Not sure what is up with his accent but I wanted to mention him since he’s had small parts in at least three other genre works- 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, The Island, and Sliders. All we know about this character is his job, his weird accent, and that he wears a wedding ring. At least he has a name, so who knows? We may see more of him in the series.

Apparently there’s been some controversy about Blair Underwood playing a Latino character of such stature (major character, primetime network TV). I admit I would have preferred a Latino actor because of the shortage of good roles that are custom-made for a Latino. But Underwood is doing a good job so far, and he definitely looks the part. Sure when he speaks Spanish he’s probably going to have a terrible accent that will make me cringe, but so do many second generation Latinos raised in the United States. Plus, the character is a bona fide Afro-Latino which is super rare on TV. Most Latinos on television or in movies are white or light skinned, and that goes for Latin American productions too.

Out of curiosity, I looked up other fictional Latino U.S. presidents. Here they are:

  • Jimmy Smits (Puerto Rican) as President Matthew Santos (Mexican American) in The West Wing
  • John D’Aquino (Italian American) as President Richard Martinez in Cory in the House

In written works (now added to my reading list!):

  • President Juanita Alvarez in Sunstorm by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter (President in 2037)
  • President Joseph Armando in Mars by Ben Bova (first Hispanic president, elected sometime in the early 21st century)
  • President Maria Juarez in: The Light of Other Days by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter (First female President of the United States, for at least one term (2037-2041))

So according to this brief research, President Elias Martinez is the first U.S. President of Latino heritage on a science fiction TV show. But if you’re thinking sci-fi movies, then look no further than President Camacho of Idiocracy:

President Camacho Idiocracy

Yeah, that's right

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2010 Imagen Awards Nominees in SciFi and Fantasy

The Imagen Awards will celebrate its 25th anniversary on August 15th in Los Angeles. These image awards were created specifically to “honor positive portrayals of Latinos and Latino cultures in entertainment.”  This year some of our favorite genre Latinos are nominated. Sadly, the TV show LOST is no more and Wizards of Waverly Place will only go on for one more season so we have major losses of Latinos in genre productions. The cancellation of Flash Forward (not nominated here) also had us lose Sonya Walger (Dr. Olivia Benford). We also never got to see the rest of the Gina Torres (Felicia Wedeck) story in Flash Forward. Here are the relevant categories, with genre shows in red.

Latinos on Lost  

Best Primetime Television Program or Movie-of-the-Week:
One Hot Summer (Lifetime Movie Network)
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)
Lost (ABC)
Cold Case (CBS)

Best Actor/Television:
Jorge Garcia, Lost (ABC)
Nestor Carbonell, Lost (ABC)

Danny Pino, Cold Case (CBS)
Ricardo Antonio Chavira, Desperate Housewives (ABC)

Best Actress/Television:
Sofía Vergara, Modern Family (ABC)
América Ferrera, Ugly Betty (ABC)
Alana de la Garza, Law & Order (NBC)
Selena Gómez, Wizards of Waverly Place The Movie (Disney Channel)
Caitlin Sánchez, Dora the Explorer (Nickelodeon)

Wizards of Waverly Place Best Supporting Actress/Television:
María Canals-Barrera, Wizards of Waverly Place The Movie (Disney Channel)
Paola Turbay, The Secret Life of the American Teenager (ABC Family)

Naya Rivera, Glee (FOX)
Aubrey Plaza, Parks and Recreation (NBC)

Best Children’s Programming:
Dora The Explorer (Nickelodeon)
Handy Manny (Disney Channel)
Nick News with Linda Ellerbee (Nickelodeon)
The Wizards of Waverly Place The Movie (Disney Channel)

Best Actress/Feature Film:
Ana de la Reguera, Backyard (Maya Entertainment)
Lisa Vidal, Dark Mirror (Cut Glass Prods.)
América Ferrera, Our Family Wedding (Fox Searchlight)
América Ferrera, The Dry Land (Maya Entertainment)

See all the categories and nominees at the Imagen Awards Website. Let’s hope our genre shows represent! I’m especially rooting for LOST, as I also mourn.

UPDATE:  The only genre winner was Maria Canals Barrera for Best Supporting Actress/Television, Wizards of Waverly Place The Movie (Disney Channel) . Here are the rest of the winners for 2010.

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