By Laura Berger | Women and Hollywood August 21, 2014 at 10:00AM
America Ferrera is returning to TV -- this time, in a much more serious role than "Ugly Betty."
Best known for her Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning portrayal of the titular character in Ugly Betty and co-starring in The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants movies, Ferrera will be hosting Panoramica, a series of eight documentary films that spotlight "compelling stories that explore issues of particular interest to the Hispanic community and will invite viewers to be part of the conversation."
The series will air in Spanish on Univision and in English or with English subtitles by Pivot. The first installment of the series, Caesar's Last Fast, examined Mexican American activist Cesar Chavez's famous hunger strike in 1988 and aired in May 2014. You may remember that Ferrera has a preexisting link to the Chavez story -- she played Helen Chavez, Cesar's wife, in the 2014 Diego Luna-directed biopic Cesar Chavez.
Variety Latino rightly notes that since her debut in HBO's Real Women Have Curves in 2002, "the 30-year-old-actress of Honduran descent has always gravitated toward roles that give a voice to Latinos in the US." Ferrera has also been very public about her politics. In 2008 she campaigned for Hillary Clinton and worked to increase Latino voting in the US.
Hosting a documentary series about social and political issues, then, isn't an especially surprising move from Ferrera. It's right up her alley, as well as a great way to use her celebrity -- borne of more mainstream fare like The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, How to Train Your Dragon, and their respective sequels -- to bring attention to these matters. In Ferrera's own words, she is "excited and inspired by Panoramica's mission to bring these important films to a wider audience."
Isaac Lee, president of Univision News adds, “We are delighted to have America hosting the Panoramica series. Apart from being a distinguished actress, she has become an admired role model for young Latinos across the US. through her enormously successful career in Hollywood.... We know that she will connect with our viewers and create the perfect lead-in for the outstanding films that will follow her introduction.”
The next documentary in the series, Marmato, focuses on the inhabitants of a small mining town in Columbia facing off against a Canadian company that wants to dig for gold beneath their houses. It will air on August 23.