Shakira’s Person of the Year Celebration a Star-Studded Event…

International superstar Shakira is officially this year’s Person of the Year, an award she received from the Latin Recording Academy during a star-studded tribute event last night that included a special performance by the Colombian singer’s father.

Latin music’s brightest stars paid homage to the 34-year-old singer during the event at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay. They performed some of biggest hits, including “La Tortura” and “Estoy Aqui” during the two-hour salute to a career that has spanned decades and crossed international borders.

Shakira delightedly watched artists like Cristian Castro, Franco de Vita, Alejandra Guzman and Gilberto Santa Rosa sing her music and went on stage to hug each one after their performance.

But it was a surprise performance by Shakira’s father William Mebarak that served as the highlight of the night. Mebarak took to the stage mid-way through the event and sang “Mi Niña Bonita” to his daughter.

As Mebarak sang the father-daughter tune often heard at Latino weddings and birthday parties, pictures of him with Shakira, flashed on a screen behind him.

“Thank you, daddy, for that song,” Shakira later told her father in Spanish.

Marc Anthony later presented Shakira with her Person of the Year plaque.

“We are in the presence of one of the most special human beings, one of the most talented human beings you will ever meet,” Anthony said.

Shakira—who has sold more than 60 million albums in Spanish and English—is the youngest person to receive the prestigious award. Previous honorees include Carlos Santana, Gloria Estefan and Julio Iglesias.

“I’ll carry this night with me always,” she declared in Spanish after receiving the award. “It’s an honor that I am not sure I deserve, but you’ve made me very happy.”

She ended the night with a performance of “En Barranquilla me quedo,” a tribute to her hometown originally performed by the late Colombian salsa star Joe Arroyo. During the performance, Shakira lifted up the skirt of her sea foam-colored evening gown as she salsa danced across the stage.

It’s the second event to celebrate Shakira this week. On Tuesday, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

And she could get more recognition before the week is over. Shakira’s up for three awards, including album of the year, at this year’s Latin Grammy Awards, taking place tonight in Las Vegas.

It’s no wonder Shakira—who recently ended an international tour to promote her “Sale el Sol” album—has said that 2011 has been a “year of passion.”

Two Latinas Honored as “Women of Worth”…

L’Oreal Paris has named two Latina community activists to its list of 10 Women of Worth honorees.

2011 L'Oreal Paris Women of Worth Honorees2011 L'Oreal Paris Women of Worth Honorees

Selected from more than 2,100 nominations by a judging panel that included CNN anchor/host Soledad O’Brien, Pilar Pinel and Ann Solorio Brownell are among the 10 women being recognized for their spirit of volunteerism, tireless fight for social and philanthropic causes and dedication to a brighter future.

Meet Brownell and Pinel, who will be honored at a special ceremony next month in New York City.

Ann Solorio Brownell

Ann Solorio Brownell dedicated her life to raising awareness about bullying after her then 16-year-old daughter Amanda tried to take her life in a bathroom at her high school in 2008 due to the sexual and cyber bullying she received the month before her suicide attempt. The 53-year-old San Jose, California women launched The Amanda Network one year after Amanda’s suicide attempt. Since then, she’s shared her story with thousands of students, parents and community groups in the San Francisco  Bay area.

“Knowing I am helping people avoid situations like what happened to Amanda is what keeps me motivated. Bullying and suicide are difficult subjects for people to discuss,” says Brownell. “Helping people open up about these issues and provide them with support is worth all the time and energy I spend on The Amanda Network. We can’t go back and undo what happened to Amanda, but we can use her story to help other victims of bullying and raise awareness so people realize this type of behavior will not be tolerated.”

Pilar Pinel
In 2003, Pilar Pinel founded Embracing Latina Leadership Alliances (ELLAS), an organization dedicated to the educational, professional and political advancement of Latina youth. The 53-year-old Long Beach, California woman—who believes that investing in oneself is the greatest strength we can build from—has funded the organization primarily with her retirement account to see that Latina students benefit and take advantage of the opportunities presented to them. ELLAS has positively affected  the lives of more than 2,400 girls, with a total of 94 percent of participants matriculating into higher education.

“My motivation is the reminder that I was one of these girls. I was a C student that came from a large family of four boys and four  girls and was expected to work in the family business, which did not allow me to pursue my personal career goals. I can identify  with these girls in so many ways,” asserts Pinel. “I’m so humbled by the work I do, it’s all worth it. I’m dedicated seven days a week at any given hour. The girls in ELLAS know that my door is always open and I do not think twice about working tirelessly to assure a diversity of resources are available to them, in my commitment to encourage underprivileged youth to expand their educational, social and career paradigms.”

Brownell and Pinel have each received $10,000 for their charitable causes and will be recognized at an awards ceremony and dinner in New York City in early December.

Meanwhile, L’Oreal Paris has opened public voting to select the National Honoree from the 10 Women of Worth. The winner will receive an additional $25,000 for her charity. Online voting runs through November 23rd.

Click here to learn more about the Women of Worth Program, read the honoree bios and vote for the 2011 Women of Worth National Honoree.

Mars Brings Home MTV EMA Hardware

Lady Gaga may have dominated the MTV Europe Music Awards, but that didn’t prevent Bruno Mars from stealing some of the spotlight.

The 26-year-old part-Puerto Rican singer/songwriter picked up some hardware of his own during Sunday night’s show at Belfast’s Odyssey Arena. Mars took home awards in the Best Push and Best New categories.

Bruno Mars at the MTV Europe Music Awards

“I’ve never been in this position,” said the doo-wop singer. “I don’t know what do. Kids follow your dreams.”

In addition, Mars serenaded the crowd with his song, “Marry You”

Meanwhile, Selena Gomez served as the night’s hostess with the mostess—the show’s youngest host ever.

She was also the first host to combine online and social media elements of the show in addition to the TV performance.

Along with her hosting duties, the 19-year-old Mexican American singer/actress performed also her single “Hit the Lights” with her band, the Scene.

Iglesias Receives Hollywood Film Composer Award…

Two-time Oscar nominee Alberto Iglesias will receive the Hollywood Film Composer Award at the 15th annual Hollywood Film Festival and Hollywood Film Awards, presented by Starz Entertainment.

The 55-year-old Spanish composer will collect his award at tonight’s Hollywood Awards Gala Ceremony in Beverly Hills for his stellar work on Tomas Alfredson’s Cold War thriller “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Pedro Almodóvar’s haunting “The Skin I Live In.” All four individuals will collect their statuettes at the Hollywood Awards Gala Ceremony, taking place at the Beverly Hilton on October 24.

Alberto Iglesias

Considered Spain’s most acclaimed composer, Iglesias has received Best Original Score Academy Award nominations for his work on 2005’s “The Constant Gardener and “The Kite Runner.” And he could receive another nomination (or two) for his work on “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” and/or The Skin I Live In.”

Iglesias, who is classically trained in piano, guitar and composition, has actually worked on eight films with Almodóvar, including “Volver” and “Broken Embraces,” gaining critical acclaim for his intriguing and refined melodic sensibilities on Almodóvar’s films like “Bad Education” and “Talk to Her.” His musical contribution have created a psychologically piercing sophistication in those films that fit Almodóvar’s glossy imagery perfectly.

Previous Hollywood Film Composer Award recipients include Thomas Newman, Harry Gregson-Williams, Gustavo Santaolalla, Mark Isham, Danny Elfman and Hans Zimmer.

Gerardo Ortiz Wins Big at the Billboard Mexican Music Awards…

“El Rey del Corrido” Gerardo Ortiz is this year’s king of the Billboard Mexican Music Awards—an awards show dedicated entirely to regional Mexican music, the top-selling genre of Latin music in the United States.

During last night’s awards show at Los Angeles’s Orpheum Theater, the 22-year-old corridor singer won six awards, including Artist of the Year, New Artist of the Year and Male Artist of the Year.

When he wasn’t picking up awards, the Mexican singer, who calls his tunes “progressive corridos,” took the stage to perform “Ese Amor,” his Spanish cover of Bob Marley‘s “Is This Love” led by accordion.

Other award winners included banda and ranchera diva Jenni Rivera, who won Artist of the Year, Female; Larry HernándezVicente Fernández and  Julión Alvarez y su Norteño Banda.

Mexican telenovela star Kate del Castillo and singer Pedro Fernandez co-hosted the show, which also featured performances by Shaila Durcal, Larry Hernandez and Jenni Rivera.

The first-ever Billboard Mexican Music Awards show will be broadcast on Telemundo on October 27 at 7:00 pm ET.

Harmony Santana Receives Gotham Award Nomination…

She’s received critical acclaim for her feature-film acting debut in “Gun Hill Road”… And, now Harmony Santana could be reaping the rewards too.

The 20-something transgender actress has received a Gotham Award “Breakthrough Actor” nomination for her spectacular performance in the coming out drama.

The film, which co-stars Esai Morales and Judy Reyes, centers around Vanessa (born as Michael), a shy male teenager trying to live openly as a girl while dealing with a disapproving ex-con father and supportive mother.

The half-Puerto Rican, half-Dominican actresses’ only previous acting experience was playing a Boy George look-alike in a high school production of the musical “The Wedding Singer.” But that didn’t stop the film’s director, Rashaad Ernesto Green, from selecting Santana for the hard-to-cast role.

“I looked at attractive gay males who might have had experience with drag to see if they might be able to portray the character,” recalled Green in a recent interview with The New York Times, who was seeking an actor who looked 16, could play a transgender character without what he called ‘significant female development’ and could convincingly convey a Hispanic background. “But they didn’t have the essence I was looking for. There’s a difference between someone who’s pretending to be female and someone who actually believes they are.”

But Green’s luck changed when he discovered Santana at the Queens gay pride parade.

“She said she was at the beginning of her transition, which was like, ‘Bingo,’” says Green.

Santana, who has only been living full-time as a woman since last year, was able to tap into her own experience of growing up in New York as a transgender teenager for the role.

“At one time I hated my father so much because he would always fight with my mother about me,” remembers Santana. “I would hear them through the cracks in the door that I shouldn’t be playing with my little sisters and doing girl things.”

“Gun Hill Road” premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival in January and has been featured prominently on the gay film-festival circuit before opening commercially in New York City in August.

The Gotham Awards, which honor films produced outside the major studio system, will be handed out in New York on November 28.

Tatyana Ali Receives BET’s Black Girls Rock Award…

She made her triumphant return to television in TV One’s first original scripted series, “Love That Girl”… And, now Tatyana Ali is getting a little love of her own…

The part-Panamanian actress/singer, who rose to fame in the 1990s on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” received the “Young, Gifted & Black Award” at BET’s 6th Annual Black Girls Rock Awards, which celebrate the talents, lives and strength of Black women.

The 32-year-old Harvard graduate and self-proclaimed “education activist” told The Huffington Post, “I was so touched, because when I was little, there wasn’t anything like what Beverly Bond and BET is doing, there wasn’t anything like ‘Black Girls Rock.'”

Ali added, “To find those positive images that look like you do and maybe share the same experiences and the same struggles, you really have to search. My confidence and my self-esteem when I was younger would have been so changed by something like this. I’m just really happy to be on the other side of that so I can provide for younger girls what I didn’t have.”

Hosted by Tracee Ellis Ross and Regina King, the awards show was held at New York City’s famed Paradise Theater on Saturday night. The A-list event was highlighted with stellar performances by Mary J. Blige, Melanie Fiona, Estelle, Mary Mary, Jill Scott and Erykah Badu.

Other honorees included: Academy Award-nominated actress Taraji P. Henson, political activist and scholar Angela Davis, WNBA President Laurel J. Richie and The Rebecca Project for Human Rights co-founders Imani Walker and Malika Saada Saar.

Meanwhile, Ali, who released her first album, “Kiss The Sky” in 1999 says she’s “hopeful” that a musical project will come to fruition.

Lopez & Pitbull Both Receive ARIA Award Nomination…

They may have teamed up on this summer’s inescapable hit, “On The Floor”… But Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull now find themselves facing off against each other.

J.Lo and Mr. 305 have been nominated for an ARIA Award in the Most Popular International Artist category.

But the 42-year-old Puerto Rican-American pop superstar and 30-year-old Cuban-American rapper face some tough competition in a category where public voting decides the winner. They’re up against several international superstars, including British songstress Adele, Lady Gaga and Rihanna.

The ARIA (Australian Record Industry Association) is the Australian version of the Grammys.

The 2011 ARIA Awards will take place in Sydney on Sunday, November 27, 2011.

Meanwhile Lopez and Pitbull will face off against each other in the Favorite Artist in the Latin Music category at next month’s American Music Awards.

Mars & Pitbull Lead the Latino Pack of AMA Nominees

Doo-wop singer Bruno Mars and rap superstar Pitbull are leaders of the pack when it comes to this year’s American Music Awards… They’re the Latino artists with the most AMA nominations.

During a special ceremony in Los Angeles today hosted by Pitbull and Nicki Minaj, it was revealed that Mars and Pitbull received two nominations each.

The 26-year-old part-Puerto Rican singer/songwriter is up for Favorite Male Artist in the Pop/Rock Music category and Favorite Artist in the Adult Contemporary Music category.

The 30-year-old rapper/producer songwriter is up for Favorite Male Artist in the Pop/Rock Music category and Favorite Artist in the Latin Music category.

Other Latino nominees include: Enrique Iglesias in the Favorite Artist in the Latin Music category, Jennifer Lopez in the Favorite Artist in the Latin Music category and Miguel in the New Artist of the Year category.

British singer/songwriter Adele led all artists with four nominations, including Artist of the Year.

The 39th Annual American Music Awards will be broadcast live on ABC from Los Angeles’ Nokia Theatre on November 20. Pitbull and Katy Perry have been confirmed as performers. Winners will be determined by online voting. See the full list of nominees and vote for your favorites by clicking here.

 

Michele & Longoria Recognized For Their “Impact”

Sweet charity! Mexican American actress Eva Longoria and part-Spanish actor and singer Lea Michele are being recognized as a Lifetime Impact Honorees for their noble philanthropic work at Variety’s Power of Women luncheon in Beverly Hills.

Each year, the industry magazine recognizes women in entertainment who pour themselves into causes greater than themselves to make a difference in the world around them. During the luncheon, 400 Hollywood insiders, A-list talent and special guests come together to celebrate, support and pay tribute to the philanthropic efforts of honorees. The goal: to inspire and encourage women from all walks of life to get involved, give back and make a difference.

“The Desperate Housewives” star is being recognized for her own non-profit organization, Eva’s Heroes, which aims to help special needs teenagers and young adults with special needs to integrate and flourish in society. Based in San Antonio, Texas, Eva’s Heroes provides after-school and summer programs, as well as monthly activities that help cultivate an inclusive atmosphere based on four tenets: interaction, growth, learning and love.

“My older sister, whose name is Elizabeth, has a mental disability, and she’s the oldest of four girls,” says the 36-year-old Longoria. “I was born into her world, so I didn’t know any other world. Growing up in south Texas we saw how many programs Elizabeth benefited from, so it was always a natural fit to give back to the special needs community because the special needs community gave to us.”

So what’s next for Eva’s Heroes?

“We want to go regional, statewide, nationally,” proclaims Longoria. “Every community could use the template that we use; it would be so easy.”

Meanwhile, “Glee” star Lea Michele is being honored for lending her voice to help People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) fight for animal rights, including a recent campaign against horse-drawn carriage rides in New York City.  Michele got involved with PETA five years ago after seeing a presentation on one of supermodel Janice Dickinson’s reality show.

“They showed a video, which was very disturbing, but it opened up my eyes,” recalls the 25-year-old Michele. “Afterward the spokesperson said if you could just take one moment and go look online, and I immediately turned off the television and went onto peta.com.”

Michele left a note saying she was a Broadway actress who wanted to help. She received an email reply by email the next day and has been working with them ever since.

“I’m constantly brainstorming (with PETA) about what we can do,” professes Michele. “I’m so thankful that being in this business and this industry gives you a little power to inform people on these issues.”

Along with Longoria and Michele, this year’s Lifetime Impact Honorees include actress Annette Bening, singer Mary J. Blige, DreamWorks Studios co-chairman and CEO Stacey Snider and actress Olivia Wilde.