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Rita Moreno honored with legacy award alongside '10 Latinos to Watch' at 2nd Annual Variety Latino Event

Jeremy Blacklow

Variety.com

LOS ANGELES — Rita Moreno, appearing alongside several of Hollywood's most promising up-and-coming talent, was feted at Variety Latino's second annual "10 Latinos to Watch" event, held Wednesday night at The London Hotel in West Hollywood.

This year's previously announced honorees included: Alfonso Herrera ("Sense8," "The Exorcist"), Eiza Gonzalez ("From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series," "Baby Driver"), Carlos PenaVega ("Big Time Rush," "Grease Live!," "Elephant Kingdom"), Melissa Fumero ("Brooklyn Nine Nine," "DriverX"), Eric Ochoa (YouTube star, "Mono," "Single by 30"), Allen Maldonado ("The Equalizer," "Straight Outta Compton," "Black-ish"), Anabelle Acosta ("Quantico," "Ballers"), Jorge Granier (executive producer of "Jane The Virgin"), Alicia Sanz ("From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series," "Billionaire Boys Club," "Shots Fired"), and Richard Cabral ("Southland," "American Crime," "Lethal Weapon").

All of the night's honorees - most of whom work primarily in television -- were eager to praise Hollywood's progression towards more inclusive representation of Latino identities on the small screen. The "10 Latinos To Watch" were formally recognized by Variety Latino editor in chief Yoselin Acevedo.

"I'm fascinated that Variety is having an event like this for Latinos," honoree Granier told Variety on the red carpet. "I think it's ground-breaking and it really adds to a movement that's gaining a lot of steam here in Hollywood, which is driving diversity and being more inclusive and showing the true face of what the United States is."

"I've been here for four years," Gonzalez told Variety. "And in the last four years I've seen a massive advance. It's evident when you go out to auditions. I went to maybe 20 auditions my first year. And now everyone in the industry realizes that we live in a more diverse world."

All of the "10 Latinos To Watch" echoed a similar sentiment of feeling completely surprised at having been chosen for the night's honor.

"I was just amazed and honored when I found out," Maldonado shared. "I was at a loss for words. Truly appreciative. As an actor, you just want to work. And to be recognized (like this)... to be picked out of all of the Latinos who do great work; it's just an incredible honor."

"For me, this is kind of like the first big spread," PenaVega explained, as his pregnant wife Alexa PenaVega joined him on the carpet. "It's just really cool!"

Everyone in attendance expressed their awe and admiration for Moreno's legacy.

"Any Latina actress that breaks boundaries in this industry like she has," Acosta shared, "It's influential and it's motivating!"

"What is really special about getting this honor, is that there was no such thing when I was a child as Variety Latino," Moreno told Variety at the beginning of the evening. "Things have changed so much. The door is way more open than it has ever been."

Moreno was presented with the Variety Latino Legacy Award by Jaime Camil, who plays her son on the CW's "Jane The Virgin."

"I'm honored to be here tonight to present the first ever Variety Latino Legacy Award to RitaMoreno," Camil told the crowd gathered on the hotel's open-air rooftop.

"Over a 70-year career, Rita Moreno has inspired so many. From being the only Latino EGOT honoree, to being a part of the Kennedy Center honors last year," he continued, adding in that every time he watched her in "West Side Story," "my heart filled with joy."

Moreno, a triple-threat in entertainment for more than 70 years, is also one of only 12 performers to have received EGOT status: having been awarded an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony.

"Jaime, you make me feel like a dirty old woman," Moreno joked when taking to the podium to accept her award.

"He's just so sexy!"

Moreno then thanked two individuals in the crowd; actress Justina Machado, who stars alongside her in the upcoming Netflix remake of Norman Lear's "One Day at a Time," and her agent, Nevin Dolcefino.

"When I was a little girl, there was no Variety Latino," Moreno reiterated. "When I was a little girl, there was no nothing. There were very few roles for people like myself. It's very moving to see how far we've come. I'm 84 now and the door was barely ajar when I came into the film industry."

Other celebrities in attendance included Luna Blaise, Blanca Blanco, Stephanie Bradford, Corina Calderon, Clayton Cardenas, Victoria Vida, Michelle Ortiz, Masiela Lusha, Carla Ortiz, and Camila Banus.

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, all of the night's honorees were also profiled in the September 27 issue of Variety Magazine, along with video interviews that are available on VarietyLatino.com.

The evening's festivities were co-sponsored by City of Hope and Fusion.

Variety Latino is an entertainment news brand created through a partnership between Univision and Variety with Spanish-language content available through multiple platforms, including VarietyLatino.com and Univision's digital and television channels.

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