Telenovela star Angelica Celaya appeared on "Burn Notice" Thursday, marking her English-language TV debut. The Arizona-born actress joins legions of other Latino celebrities like Salma Hayek and William Levy who have successfully made the transition from Spanish programming to the English market.
Celaya, who spoke to The Hollywood Reporter, said the transition to an English TV drama was difficult at first because of the change in language. During her 10 years working in Spanish programming, such as "Perro Amor" and "Gabriel," the bilingual Celaya always related to scenes in Spanish, rather than English.
"My head is always going through the scenes in Spanish and I had to change the internal chip to English," Celaya told THR. It was difficult because it was out of my comfort zone. After a number of years working, you know where your voice level is at and you're in control."
Celaya plays Angela Flores, the girlfriend of a Russian engineer, on the USA Network spy drama starring Jeffrey Donovan. As the love interest of a suspected criminal, her position makes her a valuable asset to the CIA.
Despite her English-language crossover, Celaya plans to continue working on Spanish soaps. After all, telenovelas are booming in the U.S., while their American counterparts have seen a decline in viewers.
Miami, where "Burn Notice" is usually filmed, has differentiated itself as the go-to place for telenovela stars. Dubbed the new Latin Tinseltown, estrellas de telenovela have flocked to Florida's glitzy metropolis to film the daily Spanish soaps.
According to The New York Times, Spanish-programming producers spent $40 million on filming in the Miami area in 2011, as compared to $11.5 million in 2009. The dramatic increase in production may be attributed to the influx of shows being filmed in South Florida by Spanish-language heavyweights like Univision and Telemundo, who once shot primarily in Mexico.
Although Celaya's role on "Burn Notice" is not a permanent one -- for now, anyway -- Celaya hopes to branch out in the English market, following in the footsteps of other Latina celebs who made it big in Hollywood after getting their start in telenovelas.
“It’s time to put our faces out there,” Celaya told Fox News Latino. “It’s that moment when Latinos have more presence in media. Latinos are making their point in the arts industry [and] it’s an opportunity. When the opportunity comes, you have to take it.”
Check out the gallery below to see other Latina celebs who have made it to Hollywood.
Is there anyone more independent than La Lopez? We think not!
The Colombian superstar knows that in order to make a difference in the world, you have to do it yourself. Shaki is one of the greatest philanthropists of this, or any other generation!
Her highly publicized divorce from Tony Parker didn't slow Eva down one bit. The "Desperate Housewives" star is now a producer and her first show ("Devious Maids") is heading to Lifetime in 2013! Eva is also a national co-chair for Barack Obama's re-election campaign. Not too shabby!
The Oscar-winning Spanish actress is a creative force to be reckoned with!
She's one of the biggest movie stars in the world and part of the reason is that the half-Cuban actress never settled for the role of "girlfriend" or "long-suffering wife." Cameron Diaz is a versatile actress and a badass on-screen and off!
When Salma wanted more Latinos on TV, she took matters into her own hands and produced ABC's "Ugly Betty." She also produced the 2002 film "Frida," which earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Salma is the quintessential independent woman!
The New York Liberty Center was one of the most popular basketball players who helped launch the WNBA in its inaugural season. She's also a member of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.
Michelle dies in every movie she's in--by choice! Is there a bigger badass than the half-Puerto Rican, half-Dominican actress in Hollywood? We think not!
The Colombian star is as opinionated and outspoken in real life as she is on ABC's "Modern Family" and we love her for it!
There's no harder role than being a mom and Jessica Alba is a great one!
She's the female star of the highest grossing movie of all time (James Cameron's "Avatar") as well as the big-budget "Star Trek" franchise. Translation? Zoe is a Hollywood A-lister!
The beautiful Cuban actress is reportedly dating the world's sexiest man (Ryan Gosling!) but she isn't the type to depend on a man--Eva is a movie star and one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood!
Like Eva, Selena has a super famous boyfriend (Justin Bieber). But Selena is an independent girl and with a hot movie career, a music career, a clothing line ("Dream Out Loud" at K-Mart) and a new perfume, Selena might just be busier than her man!
Brave--that's the best way to describe the new "X-Factor" judge. Last year, Demi opened up to the world about her struggle with depression and bipolar disorder in the hopes that her story would help others. She's both independent and brave!
The 19-year-old actress already has a hot career as the star of Nickelodeon's hit show "Victorious" and she's getting ready to add a debut album to her resume.
She's only 14, but Bella already talks like an adult and she's great at balancing her busy career with her life as a normal, down-to-earth teenager!
The half-Puerto Rican actress/singer has made it her mission to help the LGBT community by being a strong advocate for gay rights both on-screen (as Santana Lopez on "Glee") and off.
She may not have won "American Idol" season 11, but powerhouse singer Jessica Sanchez will always be a winner to us!
Her Twitter followers call themselves "Jasminators" and they follow Jasmine's every move. Why? Because the half-Mexican singer is sweet, talented and a great example of what it means to be an independent woman!
Whether she's playing the lead on a hit show ("Ugly Betty") or endorsing a candidate for President (Hillary Clinton), America Ferrera is a natural born leader and an independent thinker!
She's simply hilarious!
The "Falling Skies" star is equal parts talent and beauty.
Madison de la Garza
The 10-year-old "Desperate Housewives" star is wise beyond her years.
The "Spy Kids" actress isn't afraid to take on challenging roles like that of real-life teenager Gaby Rodriguez, who faked her pregnancy during her senior year of high school, in the Lifetime movie "The Pregnancy Project."
La La Anthony
She's married to NBA superstar Carmelo Anthony, but La La Anthony has always had her own things going on. A successful MTV VJ, La La is now an actress and she has her own cosmetics line for Afro-Latinas!
She stole the show on ABC Family's hit show "Make It Or Break It" as gymnast Kaylie Cruz and it's obvious why: Josie Loren is fearless!
The star of Nickelodeon's first telenovela ("House of Anubis") Nathalia Ramos is a free spirit and one of the brightest young stars in Hollywood.
The "Desperate Housewives" star is a human rights activist, and spends much of her time volunteering and putting together community projects.
She kicks major ass in movies like "Last House on the Left" and "Shark Night: 3-D," which makes sense, since Sara has a kick-ass personality in real life!
She's Andy Garcia's daughter, but Dominik Garcia-Lorido isn't relying on her father to make her a star. The independent Latina landed a role on the Starz drama "Magic City" all on her own.
Independent spirit? CHECK! "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" star is free-spirited and confident.
Want to know why the Brazilian beauty always looks the best on the red carpet? It's because her style is all her own. Camila is very much her own (independent) woman.
OK, so her song "Friday" wasn't exactly well-received. But Rebecca Black doesn't seem fazed by criticism...she's pretty badass if you ask us!
The actress and Socia Media Correspondent for NBC's "The Voice" is beautiful and sweet, but she's also a tough and hardworking single mom who does a great job of balancing her career and motherhood.
April Lee Hernandez
April Lee Hernandez not only survived a life-threatening experience with domestic violence, but now the "Dexter" star is helping other women do the same thing by speaking out about her experience. She is a role model, an inspiring Latina and a free spirit.
Kat Von D
Is there anyone in Hollywood who's as opinionated and independent as the Argentinean tattoo artist? We think not!
She charmed millions as the sweet and intelligent Rory Gilmore on the hit dramedy "Gilmore Girls," and in real life, Alexis is just as bright as her bookworm TV character.
Odette has starred in comedies ("You Again"), thrillers ("The Unborn") and hit TV dramas ("Brothers and Sisters," "House'). So how does she get so many great roles? It's because Odette is loveable, sweet, and beautiful!
The former "106 & Park" host takes mentoring young girls very seriously. Rocsi donates her time to teaching young women about careers in journalism and she's also part of Barack Obama's re-election campaign. We love her!
She started Voto Latino and followed through on it. 'Nough said!
Sara has said that she's "not very cookie cutter" and that's what we love most about her. Sara is sweet, kind and she's always willing to stand up for what's right, like when she appeared in PSA's for the LGBT community.
Like Sara, Ana Ortiz has also used her celebrity to help support the LGBT community. She's a great role model and human being.
The "Dexter" star is always looking for ways to support the Latino community, whether it's representing for Afro-Latinas on television or starring in an off-Broadway play about the life and times of Latina icon, La Lupe!
Just call her Ms. Independent!
JoAnna Garcia Swisher
She's an American sweetheart!
Jaimie is a wise Latina. In fact, she actually wrote a book called: "Wise Girl: What I've Learned About Life, Love, and Loss," in 2002.
She's had roles on hit shows like "Nip Tuck," and "True Blood" and Valerie Cruz has always delivered great performances!
Regardless of how busy she's been in her career, Camille has always found time to donate money and goods to various charities.
This proud Latina is known for her scene-stealing roles in "Freaky Friday" and on TV's 'Veronica Mars."
She plays the evil queen on ABC's hit drama "Once Upon A Time,' but in real life Lana Parrilla is sweet as candy!
Mention her name to any sci-fi fan anywhere, and you'll see that Morena Baccarin is the ultimate badass!
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