Highly choreographed dance numbers, classical singers and a mariachi band set the stage Friday night as 600 guests converged on the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion’s Grand Hall for the 30th Annual Imagen Awards Gala.
The CW’s Jane the Virgin claimed the best primetime television comedy prize, while star Gina Rodriguez, and costar Andrea Navedo, won best television actress and supporting actress, respectively.
“The fact that I represent a positive character on Jane the Virgin means so much to me,” Navedo said upon receiving her award.
America Ferrara, Edward James Olmos, Paula Abdul, Rita Moreno and Esai Morales were among the stars that clapped and cheered in appreciation, as 24 awards were handed out for the best in television, film and web series.
Universal Television and Wolf Film’s Law and Order: SVU won the prize for best primetime television drama. SVU star Danny Pino picked up the best television supporting actor award, saying he shared the honor with “distant mentor,” Edward James Olmos.
“I hope I can call you Eddie someday,” he quipped, as Olmos grinned.
Gael García Bernal, who did not attend the event, won the best television actor award for Amazon Studios’ Mozart in the Jungle. Rico Rodriguez of ABC’s Modern Family, and Lilimar Hernandez of Nickelodeon’s Bella and the Bulldogs took home the awards for best young actor and actress in television.
“I think the level of talent that we have now is significantly more than we’ve had in past years,” Imagen Foundation Founder and President Helen Hernandez told B&C during the show. “My vision and hope [for the future] is that there will be more inclusion, and that’s what the Imagen Awards are all about.”
Chicago PD’s Jon Seda agreed. “I think we need to be creating the substance, the scripts, so that we have control over it and bring our fresh ideas,” he said during a red carpet interview.
HBO’s Vice was named best variety or reality show and PBS/Latino Public Broadcasting’s Children of Giant was singled out as the best documentary in film or television.
On the film side, Walt Disney Studio’s McFarland, USA won best picture, while Zoe Saldana was given the best actress award for her work in Reel FX’s The Book of Life. Pantelion Films’ Spare Parts nabbed two awards: best actor for George Lopez and best director for Sean McNamara.
Paula Abdul introduced Imagen Legacy Award recipient Moreno, calling the 83-year-old “exquisite” and saying, “we all you owe you a debt of gratitude.”
In receiving the award, Moreno said she was having the time of her life and was happy to be in good health, with a wonderful family and still “working my ass off.”
There were surprising moments during the three-hour-plus event, many of them musical. The show got off to a rousing start when dozens of dancers exploded down the grand staircase into the hall to Wisin & Yandel’s “Follow the Leader,” featuring Jennifer Lopez. Mariachi Los Reyes had the audience dancing in their seats, and Moreno brought a note of wistfulness to the proceedings when she sang The Pied Pipers’ “Dream” at the end of her acceptance speech.
Hosting for the second year in a row, comedian Aida Rodriguez promised to keep the show “edgy,” telling the appreciative audience, “We’re going to do all the things Donald Trump says we don’t do.”
“I know this is PBS, but I came here to push some buttons,” Rodriguez said.
Airing as a PBS SoCal special at 10 p.m. on Oct. 3, the event also brought out iconic television producer and Imagen Founder Norman Lear, as well as Kenny Ortega, a collaborating producer for the anniversary show. The Imagen Awards were founded in 1985 to “encourage and recognize the positive portrayals of Latinos in the media.
Calling Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis a “hero,” Ferrera presented the former Secretary of Labor with the Imagen President’s Award. Father Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries, also received the President’s Award, and choreographer Liz Imperio was given the Creative Achievement Award.
At the end of the night, Rodriguez had one final trick up her sleeve, ushering out a Donald Trump piñata and knocking it to the floor while the audience cheered.
And then everyone started dancing.