Essential Heroes: A Momento Latino Event comes to CBS on Monday, October 26th at 9:00 PM ET/PT, celebrating the culture and contributions of Latinx Americans. Created by Henry Munoz, Essential Heroes will be hosted by Eva Longoria, Ricky Martin and Gloria Estefan with special performances by PItbull, Luis Fonsi, Kelsea Ballerini and more.
CBS‘ Matt Weiss spoke to Munoz ahead of Monday’s special to discuss how the idea for the show came about, working with the show’s three iconic hosts and the message he hopes to get across to a nationwide audience.
MW: Hey Henry, nice to meet you today to discuss Essential Heroes: A Momento Latino Event coming up on Monday, October 26th. First of all as the creator and executive producer I’m curious to know what was the seed of this idea? What made you want to put this all together and bring it to life?
HM: The darkest days of COVID-19 and a trip to the epicenter of the epicenter which at the time was in New York. A recognition that it would be harder for the Latino community to have access to testing and to healthcare. So, we put in place data and research that shows that for our community and for the country; it’s not just the virus it’s the loss of your healthcare, it’s your job, it’s the impact on your business, it’s the lack of Wi-Fi for everybody in this country and the difficulty of sending your kid to school either in person or virtually. The issues in the Latino community during COVID-19 are American issues.
We decided that it would be great if we could build an infrastructure of support for the Latino community. We picked up the phone and we put together a coalition of over 130, now 140 I think, advocacy groups across the country with everybody from the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to Unidos US. When we built that and started talking and decided that we needed to create content then it was a natural progression to say why don’t we lift our voices with one unifying moment. That’s what became Essential Heroes: A Momento Latino Event.
MW: That name too, essential, has become really synonymous with this year. I’m sure that was done on purpose where you wanted to highlight that phrase…
HM: I think it’s important that we remind ourselves in the Latino community and I think it’s important that the entire country have a moment of unity and cultural understanding. But especially for us to recognize that we are essential; we always have been, that we’re the people who keep food on the table, we’re the people who drive the buses and the trains to keep people going to their jobs, we’re the nurses, we’re the doctors, we’re the small businesspeople. Quite honestly we’re the movie stars and the musicians that entertain you.
Essential Heroes: A Momento Latino Event really brings all of that together. It brings these great comedians together with people like Pitbull, Juanes and Luis Fonsi into an environment to tell stories. We’re telling stories about everyday heroes, the people that you’ll never read about on the front page of the newspaper, but who keep communities moving. I think that’s the beauty.
MW: You mentioned, you have a star-studded group of people who are going to be on the show. As for the hosts we have Eva Longoria, Gloria Estefan, and Ricky Martin. What was it like working with each of those three?
HM: I love all three of them because I’ve worked with them for many years. Whenever this community needs something you can pick up the phone and call Eva Longoria. She is so smart and committed and a philanthropist helping people, helping children with special needs and young Latinas who need access to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Look at Ricky Martin and everything that he’s done not just for the Latino community or for Puerto Rico but for humanity and for children. Think about Gloria Estefan, not just one of the most honored singers in the history of our country, a Grammy Award winner, the recipient of the Kennedy Center honor, Presidential Medal of Freedom, but a person who really is one of the great examples of the immigrant culture of the United States.
All three of them together have moved this country forward many times over the years. When we ask them to be a part of Essential Heroes and in fact a host of Essential Heroes, they said yes immediately. You should see what they do. It’s really an incredible hour of television.
MW: For the performers we have Pitbull and then we also have Kelsea Ballerini. I think that’s really cool you have such a diverse group of Latin performers. How did you go about choosing the people who would perform?
HM: That may be one of my favorites, the duet between Louise Fonsi and Kelsea Ballerini, that kind of union between Latin music and Country Western music, which really has happened. I’m from Texas and that kind of idea of the blending of musical culture that you see for example in a place like Texas they call it Conjunto, is one of my favorite moments in this television special because it says that our music belongs to everybody.
I’m very proud that Louise Fonsi and Kelsey are doing this duet. I’m very proud that their debuting an important song from his newest album on the special. It’s fantastic. People are going to love it. I think it also says that this special is not just for Latinos, this is an important American television moment.
As best as I can tell there’s never been anything like this on broadcast television. For sure in the last 10 years there hasn’t been a show quite like this that spotlights the contributions and the artistry of Latinos living in the United States. I would just say tune in, you’re going to be pleased. I’ve watched little bits and pieces of it so far and it’s a one hour of television in which you will dance, you will laugh and I think you’ll be moved by the stories that you’ll see.
MW: Fantastic. Last question before I let you go here, when the hour is up and the show is over, what do you want viewers to take away from seeing this?
HM: I want them to watch Momento first and foremost. I want them to watch Essential Heroes: A Momento Latino Event and then I want them to be proud of their American heritage. I want them to recognize that we are patriots and if we are united through this moment, our country will be better into the future. We’ll be able to move our country together and that’s really important.
MW: Well thank you so much Henry, been great to speak with you and all the best with the special.
HM: Thank you so much Matt, I appreciate it.
Essential Heroes: A Momento Latino Event airs on CBS on Monday, October 26th at 9:00 PM ET/PT. Check your local listings for more information.