Presentando: Maria Santana, Journalist with Sabor
Editor’s note: You know how sometimes you meet someone and you instantly want to know more about them? Well, Mega TV’s Maria Santana is definitely one of those people. The Tiki Tiki met her on Twitter and has been following her tweets and interviews — some light-hearted, some heart-breaking. When we got just un poquitico jealous of how closely she sat to Gael Garcia Bernal, we asked her to tell us more about herself. And by the way, la Dominicana journalist just won Guanabee.com’s Hottest Latino Journalist Contest.
So, Tiki Tiki-ers, les presentamos a Maria…
I was asked a very interesting question by the Tiki Tiki: “What’s it like to interview Latino celebrities?” Well, I guess I can sum it up in one word: Unpredictable!
As Mega TV’s New York correspondent, I mostly report news from the metro area, but every once in a while I get the opportunity to sit down with artists in music, theater, TV and the silver screen. As with everything else that I do, the secret is in the preparation and being able to handle the unexpected.
When artists agree to an interview, it is usually because there is an album, show or movie in the works. So beforehand, I always find out what they are working on and research their background, what they’ve done and where they’ve been. Trust me, there is NOTHING worse than revealing to the interviewee that you have no idea who he or she is. I’ve seen it happen. For example, I almost ran out of the studio once when one of my co-workers asked Dominican artist Wason Brazoban if he felt that Bachata music is in decline, to which he answered, “I wouldn’t know, I don’t do Bachata”
Once I get past the requisite, “tell me about your new project” question, I can then delve into the personal stuff, but keep in mind that artists have different tolerances for these types of questions. Sure, there are some things that just HAVE to be asked, but no celebrity wants to spend his or her time only addressing gossip. When I ask these questions, I have to be prepared for the reaction. Sometimes it’s pleasant, and sometimes not. Most recently, I interviewed Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna about their movie Rudo Y Cursi. It was going really well until the subject turned from the movie to their family life and rumors circulating about Diego’s marriage. They got surprisingly defensive and honestly at that point, at least on their part, the interview was over. Things got tense, but either way, I have a job to do just like they do. In these situations, I have no choice but to remain focused and professional.
Now, while I love the work of many of the artists I’ve interviewed, I never try to come across as a star struck fan meeting her idol for the first time. Who wouldn’t have melted sitting on a couch at arms length with Romeo from Aventura? Some artists have even told me that reporters have tried to hook up with them mid-interview, or have handed them the phone with the reporter’s mom on the other end. For me, this is the quickest way to lose credibility. No matter how dreamy the celebrity sitting in front of me is, I maintain composure, politely ask for a pic and then call a friend to gush with her after they are gone.
But in the end, I simply try to have fun. These interviews are about art, music, acting- things that everyone enjoys and that contribute to our Latino culture. And remember, celebrities are just regular people and the majority of them (not all) want to be treated as such because that’s when the unforgettable, unrehearsed moments happen, like Sofia Vergara admitting that she’s had no formal voice training as she prepares to debut in a musical, or Francisco Gatorno so obviously glad that I thought his nude scene “stood out” in his performance…
Maria Santana is the NY Bureau Manager and Correspondent for Mega TV.