I was fortunate enough to have attended the very first event for the Adelante Movement in Santa Monica California in 2011. The Adelante Movement was created for all of us to unite socially, economically and politically. Last month at the Hispanicize 2013, the annual Latino trends event hundreds of Hispanic women gathered in the Pompeii Ballroom at the Eden Roc Hotel in Miami Beach to get a dose of inspiration. Featured at this very special edition of Nely Galán’s The Adelante Movement: The Wisdom of Latina Legends, were Hollywood icons Rita Moreno and Charo as well as local Miami legend, entrepreneur Maria Elena Toraño.
Presented by the Coca-Cola Company and by Nely Galán, founder of The Adelante Movement for Latina economic empowerment, the program, as always presented powerful and successful Latina role models who have enjoyed and still maintain long and fruitful careers. The three-hour program was a series of dazzling speeches, hilarious and insightful interviews where these legends shared their personal stories and insights regarding economic and personal empowerment, career and financial success, as well as health, wellness and longevity.
Kicking off the program was Galán, a first generation self-made media mogul, who was the first Latina president of a U.S. TV network (Telemundo), and was recently featured in HBO’s “The Latino List: Volume Two” and was also named one of PEOPLE En Español’s 25 Most Powerful Women. The Emmy Award-winning producer of over 600 episodes of television in Spanish and English, including the hit reality series The Swan and the first Latina to appear on Celebrity Apprentice with Donald Trump, spoke to the crowd about her journey as a trail-blazing Hispanic woman in Hollywood as well as Hispanic market pioneer.
Nely spoke of the importance of venerating our elders and “learning from the wisdom of those who came before us,” as she put it. Speaking of her own journey of self-cultivation and reinvention. Nely recently fulfilled her lifelong dream and has completed a Masters and Doctorate in Clinical Psychology.
Nely then chatted with Charo, who is literally a household name in the U.S. since the early 1970’s. The two legends enagaged in an uproariously funny interview with some compellingly serious moments. Charo spoke of using the “cuchi-cuchi” stereotype “all the way to the bank” as audiences in Las Vegas were more interested in the Latin spitfire image than her virtuoso Flamenco guitar playing and performing. She talked about the real truth about her marriage to bandleader Xavier Cougat, who discovered her in Spain and brought her to the states to perform with im in Vegas. Dispelling the rumors that she married him for his money at age 17, Charo told the audience that the marriage was never consumated, and that after the ceremony she went to live with her mother and sister, who had accompanied her to America. With in the year, Charo was making more money than Cougat. Charo shared the secrets of wise investing by Latina women who want to be economically secure and independent. Charo herself is a big investor in gold and real estate. She also talked about giving back, being a mother and about how he keeps her husband a happy man!
For the young ladies in attendance, she became their hero of the day, as one of them told me; for those of us that have grown up watching Charo, she transformed before our eyes.
Then it was time for Latina film legend Rita Moreno to read from her recently release book Rita Moreno: A Memoir. She proceeded to mesmerize the audience with accounts of her life in Hollywood. From her Oscar winning performance in West Side Story to her tumultuous love affair with Marlon Brando and a little known fact, her rendezvous with the King Elvis Presely, in an effort to make Brando jealous. I had to buy the book!
Moreno talks about how tough it was for a Latina (and women in general) in Hollywood in the late 50’s and during the ’60. In addition to having to deal with the stereotypical roles, Moreno talks about the Hollywood system and how the young starlets were subjected to sexism and advances from the studio head honchos.
Nely then invited to the stage local businesswoman and Miami legend, Maria Elena Toraño, who spoke of her early days working in a bakery to becoming an entrepreneur and a four-time Presidential appointee who is widely recognized as a Latina leader around the country. Toraño founded the National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI), an organization created to train Hispanic women for national leadership roles. Galán is an NHLI alumni and example of the mentorship Maria Elena provides for Latinas.
About The Adelante Movement
The Adelante Movement is a grassroots movement that aims to unite and empower Latinas economically through a digital platform and a national tour of live forums that will partner with leading non-profit organizations to connect Latinas and their families to jobs, start-up funding, franchise and entrepreneurial opportunities, and mentorship—with the goal of creating a private sector solution to bringing economic stability to Latino families via moms, many of the heads of households and are the emerging economic market in the country. The idea is to empower this elite group of Latina leaders and members of The Adelante Movement, to create economic opportunities and prosperity in their communities. Join the Adelante Movement theadelantemovement.com.