María Celeste Arrarás
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María Celeste Arrarás
Arrarás at the 2017 Miami International Film Festival
|Residence||Miami, Florida, U.S.|
|Other names||María Celeste|
|Occupation||Journalist, author, television personality|
|Known for||Al Rojo Vivo and Noticiero Telemundo|
María Celeste Arrarás (born September 27, 1960 in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico), better known as María Celeste, is a Puerto Rican broadcast journalist, author, and television personality. Arrarás was selected for the cover of "Newsweek" magazine, who named her as one of the “20 Most Powerful Women” of the next generation of leaders. Arrarás has won three Emmy Awards for journalism. In August 2018, María Celeste was awarded with a Doctorate Honoris Causa from the Universidad Central de Bayamon in Puerto Rico, in recognition for her arduous philanthropic work. Currently, Arrarás serves as the host and managing editor of Al Rojo Vivo con María Celeste, which airs in the U.S. and in 15 Latin American countries, and has a daily audience of 35 million viewers.
Early life and education
In 1971, she won three medals (one gold, one silver, and one bronze) at the Central American and Caribbean Swimming Championships. She qualified to compete at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada, but was unable to compete after she contracted infectious mononucleosis.
In 1978, Arrarás left her native Puerto Rico to attend Loyola University in New Orleans, Louisiana, where she majored in Communications, and four years later graduated with honors. In 2016, Arrarás returned to her alma mater, where she was inducted into the School of Mass Communication's Den of Distinction and was honored by the university for her career in television.
Arrarás began her broadcasting career in 1986 when she was employed by a local Puerto Rican television station, Channel 24, as a news anchor and reporter. There, Arrarás traveled covering major news events, such as the fall of the Soviet Union in Moscow and Leningrad, and she received several journalistic awards for her reports. In 1987 the Univision affiliate in New York City hired her as the co-anchor of its local news show.
Shortly after being hired by Univision, Arrarás became Los Angeles Bureau Chief. In January 1990, when the network moved to Miami, she was named the national news anchor for Noticiero Univision weekend edition.
In 1992, Arrarás was named co-anchor of a new television news program, Primer Impacto, alongside Myrka Dellanos. The show's popularity resulted in a large franchise for Univision including "Primer Impacto Extra", "Primer Impacto Edicion Nocturna", and the weekly show "Ver Para Creer" all of which were hosted by Arrarás and Dellanos. Arrarás would continue to hold her positions until 2002, when she left the show and joined rival network Telemundo.
The defection of María Celeste Arrarás from Univision, North America's largest Spanish-language network, to the rival Telemundo broadcasting group in 2002 sent shockwaves in the industry and was heralded as the start of a new era for Hispanic media. Arrarás's arrival coincided with news that the National Broadcasting Company (NBC)'s $2.7 billion acquisition of the Spanish-language news and entertainment provider had just won U.S. government approval. Arrarás was to host her own Telemundo show, but would also file English-language reports for Dateline, NBC's top-rated prime-time newsmagazine, and work as a guest co-host in NBC's Today show. Arrarás's hire—and the Telemundo/NBC venture—was seen as a sign of an increased Hispanic presence in mainstream media news organizations, and The New York Times journalist Mirta Ojito called the new, lucrative contract for this popular journalist "NBC's first coup in the Latino media." In 2002, the same day that NBC Universal acquired Telemundo as part of their larger network, Arrarás took her current position at Telemundo, becoming the host and Managing Editor of the show Al Rojo Vivo con María Celeste, which in English translates to "Red Hot Live with María Celeste".
Arrarás has been praised for her wit, straightforwardness and interviewing skills. She is considered a fair, yet incisive journalist who has landed exclusive interviews with Yolanda Saldívar (the woman convicted of murdering Tejano music singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez), as well as celebrities and politicians.
In 2004, Arrarás co-hosted the Brown-Black Democratic Presidential Debate in Iowa for MSNBC.
Arrarás has crossed-over to the English market. Since 2002 Arrarás has been invited as a guest co-host of NBC’s Today show, and according to The New York Times, “Ms. Arrarás’s high-profile sally into national network television, in the spot previously occupied by Ms. Couric no less, was groundbreaking for a Spanish-accented broadcaster.” She has also contributed to different NBC programs including Dateline and Nightly News. On the night of María Celeste’s debut as a contributor for Dateline NBC, the show experienced a dramatic audience increase in both Hispanic an Anglo demographics. NBC president Andrew Lack told the Los Angeles Times, “[María Celeste] was one of the highest segments at ‘Dateline’ that quarter.” He described her as “a serious, smart journalist.”
In 2012, Arrarás became co-anchor of Noticiero Telemundo alongside Jose Diaz-Balart. In September 2014 Telemundo won an Emmy for its coverage of the election of Pope Francis. One news source stated, the addition of María Celeste is the latest development in a strategy that consolidated “Noticiero Telemundo” as the national newscast with the fastest growing audience on both Spanish and English-language television. In 2016, Arrarás was awarded her third Emmy Award for “Francisco in America,” Telemundo's special coverage of Pope Francis’ historic visit to Cuba and the USA on September.
After spending four years at the head of Al Rojo Vivo con María Celeste and Noticiero Telemundo, Arraras opted to dedicate herself fully to Al Rojo Vivo con María Celeste, but not before receiving her third Emmy Award and extending her contract with Telemundo for several more years.
In February 2016, Arrarás served as a panelist for the Republican Party presidential debate held in Houston. Arrarás was cited for her performance. The Washington Post praised her unconventional way of framing issues and said categorically that "she played an important fact-checking role" in that debate.
In the summer of 2016, Arrarás celebrated her 30-year career in television, and was reunited with her former co-host of Primer Impacto, Myrka Dellanos, for a special edition of Al Rojo Vivo commemorating the anniversary. She was recognized by the city of Los Angeles with a resolution commending her work. Puerto Rico, her birthplace, also honored Arrarás by granting her a star on their "Paseo de la Fama de Puerto Rico," their walk of fame. The government also held a special ceremony for Arrarás at the House of Representatives Capitol Building to commemorate her achievements.
Awards and honors
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- In June 2005 she became the first Hispanic journalist to receive a National Emmy in recognition for her career achievements.
- In 2013 she received the Silver Circle Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for her outstanding career in journalism.
- In September 2014, and in 2016, Arrarás won two further Emmy awards with the Telemundo news team for their coverage of the election of Pope Francis, and the pontiff's first visit to Cuba.
- In 2016 The Hispanic Association of Corporate Responsibility (HACR) presented Arrarás with a lifetime achievement award to commemorate her 30 years in television and her contributions for the advancement of the Hispanic community in the U.S.
- In 2003 Arrarás was the recipient of the Award for Outstanding Achievement in Hispanic Television presented to her by Broadcasting & Cable and Multichannel News.
- In May 2003 Arrarás was honored with her name and hand-prints on a plaque on display in Mexico City’s Paseo de los Grandes (Walk of the Great Ones).
- In 2012 she was named “Best Journalist doing Social Good in Social Media” by LATISM, the largest Hispanic social media organization.
- In 2013 she was given the most "social" celebrity award in Premios Tu Mundo because of her mass audience and communication with fans.
- In 2001 she was awarded the PETA Humanitarian Award for her dedication to animal rights campaigns around the globe.
- In 1999 Arrarás won the Génesis, award (National Ark Trust Fund) in recognition for her outstanding work in raising awareness of animal protection issues.
- In 2009 she was named the "Hero of the Environment" by the Monterey Bay Aquarium for her efforts in raising awareness about conserving the planet and its ecosystems.
- In 2012 she was awarded the title of "Ocean Defender" by Wildcoast in recognition for her efforts to defend the earth's coasts and oceans.
- In 2016, The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) presented Arrarás with its Rubén Salazar Award for Communications to commemorate her 30 years in television and her contributions for the advancement of the Hispanic community.
Arrarás is also an investigative reporter and writer, and has authored several books.
In 1997, Arrarás wrote Selena‘s Secret: The Revealing Story Behind Her Tragic Death (released in Spanish as El Secreto De Selena: La Reveladora Historia Detrás De Su Trágica Muerte), published by Simon & Schuster. The book describes her in-depth investigation surrounding the events that led to the death of singer Selena Quintanilla.
In 2007, Arrarás wrote The Magic Cane (released in Spanish as El Bastón Mágico), a children's fable published by Scholastic.
In 2009, Arrarás published Make Your Life Prime Time: How to Have It All Without Losing Your Soul, (released in Spanish as Vive Tu Vida Al Rojo Vivo: Secretos Para Triunfar En Todo), published by Atria.
Often cited as the “Hispanic TV Queen,” Arrarás has been described by The New York Times as “a household name in Spanish-speaking homes across the country, and a darling of the Spanish-language media, which turned her into a cover girl for magazine articles that ranged from fitness to the supermom syndrome." She is one of the most popular celebrities today, with over 50 magazine covers under her belt. In 2006, she appeared on the cover of Newsweek after the magazine selected her as one of the “20 Most Powerful Women” of the next generation of leaders. Later that year, Newsweek also had her on the cover of its special international edition dedicated to “Women and Leadership.” She has been featured on the cover of People en Español magazine more than 15 times, including six times for its “50 Most Beautiful People” edition.
Arrarás has been the judge of the Miss Universe Pageant on two occasions. The first was the 52nd Miss Universe pageant, held on June 2003, where Amelia Vega became the first Dominican candidate to be crowned. Then again in 2006, when Puerto Rican beauty Zuleyka Rivera was crowned in Los Angeles.
Arrarás currently lives in Miami with her three children, Julian Enrique, Lara Giuliana, and Adrian Vadim.
She is a vocal environmental and animal rights activist. She has been noted for speaking out against the exploitation of animals, especially in spectacles such as rodeos, aquariums, cock-fights, and circuses. In December 2001, she even went in front of the Puerto Rican Congress to advocate for a ban in the Island on circuses that forced wild animals to perform as part of their shows. Currently Arrarás is working with The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International on a campaign to dramatically improve the welfare of the more than 300,000 stray dogs and one million stray cats in the island.
Maria Celeste is a supporter of Para la Naturaleza, a non-profit organization dedicated to environmental conservation and historic preservation in Puerto Rico.
She is also an advent supporter and advocate of other organizations including, Autism Speaks, an autism advocacy organization in the United States that sponsors autism research and conducts awareness and outreach activities aimed at families, governments, and the public.
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