Expectations run high for 12-year-old actor Jake T. Austin as he awaits the Imagen Awards ceremony Saturday at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
If Jake wins the Best Actor award for his voice work as Diego in "Go, Diego, Go!" he would join an elite group of past Imagen Award winners that include Andy Garcia, Jennifer Lopez and Antonio Banderas.
Since 1985, the Imagen Awards have encouraged and recognized the positive portrayal of Hispanics in the media. In 1983, the awards followed a meeting between Helen Hernandez, founder of the Imagen Foundation, and producer Norman Lear, who's best known for his groundbreaking sitcom "All in the Family." Over the past 22 years, the Imagen Awards have continued to honor entertainment industry professionals.
The foundation says this year's move to the Walt Disney Concert Hall is a necessity with the increase of interest in award submissions, attendance, and sponsorship. Among the top Hispanic actors expected to attend are Jimmy Smits, a former Best Actor recipient, along with Eva La Rue of "CSI: Miami," Eddie Matos of "Cane" and Eva Mendes of "Ghost Rider."
The Imagen Foundation will honor the Disney-ABC Television Group with the President's Award, while the Lifetime Achievement Award will go to Walter Ulloa, chairman and CEO of Entravision. America Ferrera, the star of ABC's "Ugly Betty" will receive The Creative Achievement Award and the Norman Lear Writer's Award will go to Cyntia Cidre, writer of the upcoming CBS series "Cane."
Jake Austin's nomination for Best Actor puts him up against comic actor George Lopez, whose self-titled sitcom was canceled earlier this year. But it's a strong year for Mr. Lopez's show at the Imagen Awards – the series garnered nominations in categories such as best primetime show, best actor, best actress and best supporting actress. Mr. Lopez is also up for best variety or reality show for his HBO special, "American Mexican."
This is not the only time Jake finds himself in such good company. He's getting ready to take a run at next year's awards with his starring role in "The Perfect Game" alongside Cheech Marin, Lou Gossett, Jr., and Patricia Manterola. The film is based on the Monterrey, Mexico Little League team that overcame the odds to win the 1957 Little League World Series and become the first foreign team to be crowned champions. In winning the title, the team plays a perfect game – the only one in Little League World Series Championship history.
Jake portrays Angel Macias, the ambidextrous pitcher who pitched a perfect game in the championship against a team from La Mesa, Calif. The "Little Giants," as the Monterrey team came to be known, are credited with helping revive the Mexican League.
To view footage from the 1957 Little League World Series, go to:
This year's nominees for the 22nd annual Imagen Awards include the following:
• "Pan's Labyrinth"
• "Goal! The Dream Begins"
• Kuno Becker – "Goal! The Dream Begins "
• Jesse Garcia – "Quinceañera"
• Wilmer Valderrama – "Fast Food Nation"
• Ivana Baquero – "Pan's Labyrinth"
• Emily Rios – "Quinceañera"
• Eva Mendes – "Ghost Rider"
• Guillermo Del Toro – "Pan's Labyrinth"
• Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu – "Babel"
• Kenny Ortega – "The Cheetah Girls 2"
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