To support and encourage the inclusion of Latino talent, executives, and voices in all aspects of the creative process in entertainment media to assure accurate, meaningful portrayals of the Latino community, celebrate individuals and entities who elevate the image and status of Latino talent in front of and behind the camera, and serves as a liaison between the industry and the Latino community by providing access, education, and resources.
The Imagen Awards
The Imagen Foundation’s beginning dates back to a 1983 meeting between Television Producer Norman Lear and Helen Hernandez, Vice President of Public Affairs for his company, Embassy Communications. Lear was acutely aware of the near absence of positive portrayals of Latinos in the entertainment industry and understood the importance of positive images. The two met with leaders of The National Conference for Community and Justice (formerly the National Conference of Christians and Jews, or NCCJ), a respected non-sectarian human relations organization committed to fighting prejudice and racial tensions. Out of this meeting emerged the Imagen Awards competition, which aimed at recognizing and celebrating the positive portrayals of Latinos in film and television.
With financial support from Norman Lear, staff support from NCCJ, the cooperation of many entertainment companies, the leadership of Helen Hernandez and a voluntary advisory committee of industry professionals and community leaders, the Imagen Awards became a successful annual enterprise.
Since 1985, the Imagen Awards, now a Hollywood staple, has shined a light on the best, most talented, and accurate portrayals of Latinos in film, television, and streaming media. The Awards have expanded from a single recognition in its first year, to over 25 categories in acting, directing, and music, along with the prestigious Norman Lear Writer’s Award, and receives hundreds of submissions for consideration each year.
The Imagen Foundation
In 1995, the NCCJ relinquished responsibility of the Imagen Awards to a group of Latino leaders who had been instrumental in organizing the annual awards. The Imagen Foundation was incorporated in 1996 as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization under federal guidelines. As the organization was formed, a decision was made that all Board members represent key industry companies. The initial Board saw the opportunity to expand efforts to provide more opportunities for Latinos in the entertainment industry.
In 2007, Imagen began a project to track Latino senior level executives in the industry. This effort, now known as the Imagen Powerful and Influential Latinos in Entertainment, has identified more than 100 industry executives as well as talent agents and managers in mainstream media. The list is announced annually at a reception in Los Angeles and provides a networking opportunity for these executives.
The Imagen Foundation continues to be a resource and conduit for the entertainment industry and the Latino community. Imagen has evolved as an organization that uses its influence to promote, support, build bridges and connect national influencers, both Latino and non-Latino, with each other.