We need a Latina Oprah

Oprah is so big that the city of Chicago is shutting down Michigan Avenue for more than 48 hours for the season premiere of her show.


The set is locked down even tighter than Grant Park was on Nov.  4, 2008 when Barack Obama hosted his election night rally there.

It just shows us how powerful and popular Oprah has become. It makes me wish that someday soon this country will have a Latina Oprah.

Oprah's success and building an audience of women viewers paved the road for other women like Tyra Banks and Ellen DeGeneres on the talk show circuit. And we see powerful women ascending in television news shows like Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News. And it was recently announced that Diane Sawyer will replace the retiring Charles Gibson as anchor of ABC World News.

But where is the Latina Oprah, Katie or Diane?

Now some of you may have heard of Cristina Saralegui. She is the Cuba-born host of a Spanish-language talk show on Univision. But the Miami-based CRISTINA show is more Jerry Springer than Oprah.

The show was on daily for 12 years until 2001 but now it is a weekly show airing on Mondays at 9 p.m. central time on Univision.

So there is definitely a void that needs to be filled.
There certainly is a market. Hispanics
are now 15 percent of the United States population and Latinas account
for around half of that number. It is estimated that by 2050, the
number of Hispanic women in the United States will reach 48.9 million,
an increase of nearly 340 percent from 1990, according to U.S. Census
Bureau data
. However, the total U.S. female population will grow only
62 percent, to 206.6 million. This means Latinas will be almost 25
percent of the female population in the United States.

These statistics show there is an audience.

And there are Latinas already on television news who could do the job if they wanted.

In Chicago, we have Judie Garcia at WGN (Channel 9), Sylvia Perez on
WLS (Channel 7) and Natalie Martinez at NBC5, among others. And
nationally there is Maria Celeste Arraras on Telemundo and Maria Elena
on Univision.

I only have one request. I just hope whoever becomes the next Latina
Oprah will not be a blonde. I have nothing personal against blondes.

But most Latinas are not blonde, not naturally anyway. I hope that
whoever becomes the next Latina television talk show host or national
news anchor will look like most Latinas who are brunette. It'd be nice
if she had some curves too.

Oprah isn't a light-skinned or slender African-American woman. Like
many women she struggles with her weight and body image. This everyday
woman appeal is part of what has made Oprah so successful.

It'd be nice to see a Latina on television who doesn't look like a supermodel.

I know she's out there and some smart television executive would be wise to give her an opportunity.

As Latinas, we need to tell them ándale, to hurry up. I'm holding my remote waiting.



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  • You're quite the little ethnocentrist, aren't you? Gee, I thought Obama's post-racial era was supposed to cleanse us all of noticing superficial things like blond hair and what not. I thought we were all the same in every single way, isn't that what the morally superior left taught us?

  • In reply to Chenjesu:

    Maybe it was supposed to be but it hasn't happened yet. Those "superficial" things are still very noticed. We are not the same even though we say we are. I think all that Puente is suggesting is to have a Latino Oprah who looks more like the majority of Latinas.

  • In reply to Chenjesu:

    Chenjesu, I believe Teresa's point is about inclusion -- not exclusion. And, historically, even Latino networks have favored light-skinned, light-eyed, light-haired talent on their front lines.
    One professor Rodriguez who studies such things asked the network execs why and he says their answer was, "We wanted to show we have beautiful people, too."

    Excuse me, but I think all skin colors, eye colors, hair colors are beautiful and I agree with Teresa that we need more diversity on the air. As a child, I never saw Latinas on TV. It's a wonder I became a TV News Journalist -- because I certainly never envisioned myself as one until I began working in the industry in my mid-30's.
    My name is Judie Garcia and I'm one of the Chicago broadcast journalists Teresa mentions in her article. If a network wants to sign me up for an engaging -- diverse -- and intellectually stimulating show -- national or local, I'm all in!

  • In reply to ChicagoJudie:

    As much as I'd like to see more Latinas on tv, I'm afraid it's unrealistic to wish there were opportunities for larger women that don't conform to the aesthetic ideals of our society. Why should any ethnic group be held to different standards than others? Affirmative action for beauty? That would be a step back. As is saying that someone like Judie Garcia would be capable of handling a talk show. I think my favorite report of hers was the hard hitting investigative work on cat massages. That video has made the rounds amongst my friends for a good giggle. She and others like her ride on the coat tails of color, not talent and that is a detriment to any advancement for us.

  • Well until we get a Latino Oprah, it would be nice to see more of Latinas (and Asians,etc) on her show as guests. Since we all have the same problems they could have multinational/color representation.

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