The queen of Latin music, Celia Cruz, is coming to the small screen in English, thanks to Endemol Shine North America and Major TV, which have jointly optioned the rights to Celia Cruz’s best-selling autobiography, “Celia: My Life.”
Triple Emmy-winning film and TV producer-director-choreographer Kenny Ortega (“High School Musical”) will be the executive producer and direct the series. Flavio Morales, executive vice president, Endemol Shine Latino, U.S. Initiatives, will also serve as an executive producer.
This is not the first time a TV series has been made about Cruz. In 2015, NBC Universal’s Hispanic broadcaster Telemundo aired an 80-episode telenovela about the iconic singer, albeit in Spanish.
The Cuban singer was one of the most popular recording artists of all time, having recorded 23 gold albums. During her successful musical career, she won four Grammy Awards, five Latin Grammy Awards and attracted millions of loyal fans globally before her death in 2003.
From her modest childhood in Cuba to her exile years in Mexico, followed by her remarkable career and life in the United States, Cruz was a woman of contrasts. Her flamboyant costumes contrasted with her simple and straightforward demeanor. She was open and accessible to her fans, but very private about her personal life. “Celia: My Life” was based on 500 plus hours of taped interviews by the Smithsonian, recorded just months before her passing.
“There is no bigger name in Latin music than Celia Cruz,” says Endemol Shine North America CEO Cris Abrego. “We are thrilled to be adapting her amazing life story, one filled with triumph and tragedy, for a dramatic television series with a producer of Kenny Ortega’s pedigree attached.”
Ortega worked with Celia Cruz as a choreographer on a movie called ‘Salsa.’ “While we were working together, Celia and her husband invited me to join them for her concert at the Hollywood Palladium. Celia seated me in a chair on stage and I was there, in the light, watching La Reina de la Salsa, hypnotizing the audience with her voice and performance magic,” he recalls. “Over the years, my appreciation of her gift to music has grown and deepened. Celia has been an inspiration for so many and I am honored to participate in this tribute of the incomparable Celia Cruz.”