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Meet the Cuban Oprah: Cristina Saralegui

January 27, 2017
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B&W photo of Saralegui interviewing guest in front of an audience
Cristina Saralegui hosting her talk show at her studio in Miami, Fla., February 1996. (Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery)

To millions of people, she’s known on a first-name basis: Cristina.

Just like Oprah, Cristina Saralegui transformed daytime television. For 21 years, she was the face of Spanish-language talk shows in the U.S. In 1989, she launched El Show de Cristina on Univision. The show broke barriers, discussing topics that had never before been discussed on Spanish-language television, like raising awareness about AIDS and talking about human-rights issues faced by many Latinos throughout the hemisphere.

The show became a breakout success, earning 12 Emmy Awards and turning Cristina into a household name. Some of today’s biggest Latino and Latina stars crossed her stage, including Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias, Shakira, Salma Hayek and Ricky Martin.

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery recently acquired this portrait as part of a portfolio of 18 photographs from the series “Cuba out of Cuba,” by photographer Alexis Rodríguez-Duarte, in collaboration with stylist Tico Torres. The portfolio features key Cuban American personalities, including Saralegui, musician Gloria Estefan and fashion designer Narciso Rodríguez.