Attendees at this year's fourth annual People en Español festival in New York got to hear from numerous powerhouse Hispanic performers as they shared their experiences living in the U.S. as Latino Americans. The festival, which was held in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, featured a star-studded lineup with appearances from Pitbull, Gloria Estefan, and Emilio Estefan (pictured above), as well as Orange Is the New Black's Dascha Polanco—just to name a few.
On Sunday, Cuban music icon Gloria Estefan sat down alongside her music producer husband Emilio Estefan and People en Espanol's November cover star Pitbull for a panel discussion with People en Español Editor-in-Chief Armando Correa. When asked why it was important that she attend the festival, Gloria said she wanted to show her support and help the event grow even more.
"First of all, we wanted to celebrate Pitbull who is on the cover of the magazine. We really admire him. He is a really good guy ... a very hard working guy. And, he has come from a difficult situation and has made it fantastically positive," she said. "Second, with People en Español and [Editor-in-Chief] Armando Correa, we've had a symbiotic relationship with the magazine that celebrates the Latin side of things. We are very honored to be here."
This year's theme was "Your Voice, Your Power, Your Festival" and it was the first time the event took place in New York City; for the previous three years, People en Español hosted it in San Antonio, Texas. In featuring the Estefans, the festival was also able to partner with the couple's new Broadway musical, On Your Feet!—a fitting collaboration considering the musical is based on the life and music of the Estefans.
"Whenever you have a new venture, you try to promote it as much as you can," Gloria said. "But, for us, it's a beautiful thing to share our story in order to inspire other Latinos, especially at this time when we are kind of getting bashed—it happens during every election. So, you kind of have to put good things out there to bring a balance and promote the wonderful contributions that Latinos make to this great land. Hopefully, with the show, we are doing that."
During the Music Legends panel featuring the Estefans and Pitbull, the rapper (aka Mr. Worldwide) also had a chance to talk about his experiences growing up in a Cuban household. Raised in a single parent home and later spending time in foster care, Pitbull spoke about how he overcame obstacles and worked to better himself. "When I think about the person I used to be compared with the person that I am now—that's why I say from a negative to a positive, you know?," Pitbull said during the panel discussion.
The rapper went on to speak about his experience working with the new SLAM (Sports Leaders and Management) charter middle and high school, which Pitbull helped to build in Miami's Little Havana, the neighborhood where he grew up. "What I am looking forward to is 15 years from now ... 18 years from now, when one of those kids comes up to me and says, 'Hey, I went to Harvard because of you' and you see how they are changing the world little by little. That, to me, is the priceless part of all this."
In addition to the many inspiring panels and performances, the festival's Sunday schedule kicked off with a naturalization ceremony in which 100 immigrants from 35 different countries became U.S. citizens. Surrounded by loved ones who were ready and waiting to snap photos and extend their congratulations, the heart-warming ceremony made the day all that much more special.