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Beyond the Red Carpet: Top Hispanic Celebrities on Health Care and Financial Security

On Health:

"I see families struggle with the costs of health care all the time. I've experienced it. I only recently got health insurance. I went maybe two years without it. I couldn't afford to get sick."

On Financial Security:

"Every time I go into an audition, I say to myself, 'This is my job now, try to make a career of it.' At the same time, it's not guaranteed that you'll get the job. You never know in this business. I also have a job on the side to cover the bills: I work as a physical trainer with people with developmental disabilities."

Kenny Ortega

The director-choreographer won Emmy and Alma Awards for High School Musical.

Kenny Ortega has parlayed his passion for musicals into award-winning spectacles. In a career that spans four decades, he's created such iconic pop moments as the parade scene in Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Madonna's "Material Girl" video. But it's at age 57 that he's enjoying his "most exciting and creative period," he says. He's got two smash High School Musical TV movies, a feature film in the works, two platinum soundtracks, and a global ice-skating tour. Better than the awards, he says, is the satisfaction of delivering a positive message: "Kids universally have embraced this project centered on empowering themes."

On Financial Security and Health:

"Sometimes health issues became the reasons we were hurting financially as a family. My parents and grandparents were unable to afford good health insurance. I remember seeing my grandmother go without medication because she couldn't afford it. As Americans grow older, it seems wrong that we work hard, pay taxes, and end up with little or no health security. It's embarrassing that we live in a country of such wealth yet fail our citizens during what should be their golden age. This is a nonpartisan issue. I hope all political parties focus on this in the next election."

Daisy Fuentes

The model, TV personality, and entrepreneur does it all in style, and in two languages.

Keeping an open mind to opportunity has been the key to success for Daisy Fuentes, the first and only VJ to appear on MTV channels in English and in Spanish. "You never know what somebody might be thinking about for you, and it might just be bigger than your own dreams for yourself," says the 41-year-old Revlon model and creative director of her own fashion line for Kohl's. This year she hosts The EcoZone Project, a series in which "green" experts visit celebrities at home and offer ecologically sound improvement tips; hosts Ultimate Style on Style Network; and co-produces and hosts Premio de la gente on TV Azteca.

On Health:

"It's shocking to me that in this day and age, health care is the way it is, in this country especially. The fact that people are dying simply because they cannot afford health care is shocking to me."

On Financial Security:

"My parents were very good about teaching me how to keep a checkbook. Even when I had a part-time job in high school, they taught me how to take a small check and still save part of the money. I'm surprised at how many young people don't know how to keep a checkbook or what a credit card entails."

Sara Ramirez

From Broadway to Hollywood, this Latina is donning scrubs on ABC's hit show Grey's Anatomy.

It was only a few years ago that Ramirez, 32, received a Tony Award for her performance as the Lady of the Lake in Monty Python's Spamalot. Today, as the only Latina on Grey's Anatomy, Ramirez is flying high. "They've been just the most incredible years of my life. I look back at all the experiences, and I realize I have a lot of angels on my side," she says. But the show isn't the only place Ramirez focuses on health. The Mexican-born actress recently appeared in advertisements educating consumers about the benefits of milk. And as if that weren't enough, she's working on her first musical recording project, a Broadway record with Spamalot's Grammy-winning composers Eric Idle and John Du Prez.

 
   

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