Orchestrating the ALMA Awards

The American Latino Media Arts Awards, or ALMA Awards, have been dubbed the Latin American Oscars—and with good reason. The awards are presented to top Latino actors, directors, musicians, and designers on a night filled with elegance and big-name celebrities. Presented by the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, the awards show helps support the mission of NCLR by promoting positive portrayals of Latinos in media and entertainment. Last year, the show, which is broadcast on NBC, reached more than 2.6 million viewers. As vice president of the California region for NCLR, one of Delia de la Vara’s duties is to serve as a producer of the ALMA Awards. Here, de la Vara takes us beyond the glamour to the gritty business of producing an awards show of this magnitude.

“[The ALMA Awards] is a high-impact way to communicate the value and the importance the media plays in shaping people’s perceptions about communities.”—Delia de la Vara PHOTOS: GETTY IMAGES FOR NCLR
What have you and the other producers of the ALMA Awards show learned through the years about presenting an event of this scale? 
There are different things that we learn each year about what an event like this should feel like. We want it to feel just like going to the Oscars, the Grammys, or the Emmys. We want it to have an elegance and to be a celebration of significant moments in our history, moments on TV, and film, and in music that Latinos can be proud of. We’re contributing to American culture and society. We can see it in clothing design and TV shows and music collaborations. There’s a lot of influence of Latino culture.

How has the ALMA Awards show evolved since it began in 1995? 
It hasn’t been a growth in terms of change away from the mission, but it’s actually been a growth in terms of realizing its mission: to highlight diversity in entertainment and to share those stories with the broader American public. The show is very much connected to our work in the area of civil rights. It’s a high-impact way to communicate the value and the importance that media plays in shaping people’s perceptions about communities.

As producer, what do you do to make the show a success?
I work for our CEO Janet Murguía, who is the executive producer of the show. I support her in all aspects of making sure that the show happens within budget, that we maintain our mission, and that NCLR’s presence comes through. I also serve as the main liaison with our various partners.

How has NCLR secured big names like Eva Longoria and George Lopez to host the awards show?
The success the ALMA Awards has had securing some of its high-name talent has been because we’ve been working with folks from early on, before they were super famous, and building relationships. But, also folks want to be a part of the ALMA Awards show and the work that NCLR does.
Eva and George and Jennifer Lopez [who worked with the show in its early years] and many of the talent we’ve had walking our red carpet have mentioned that they’re there because it’s almost like a “coming home” celebration—an opportunity to see their friends and colleagues. The talent also feels it’s important to connect the ALMA Awards celebration to the work that’s being done for communities and families around the country.

For Hispanic Executive‘s 2012 ALMA Awards coverage, visit the photo gallery on our Facebook page here!