Now the two young women find themselves onscreen, their antics broadcast in homes across America -- but with a serious purpose. "We're keeping our culture alive," Deliz said, drifting in and out of Spanish. "We have an obligation to continue to do so. It's not an easy task. . . . It's great to be a part of that."
Feeling the music
Yarel Ramos is a 23-year-old grad student. She has late-night cram sessions. Takes copious notes during class. And is featured on billboards across Los Angeles promoting her show "Reventon."
The oldest of three, Ramos is a second-generation Mexican American who grew up in Los Angeles. She watched Nickelodeon's pre-teen favorites "Clarissa Explains It All" and "All That." But wait, she also tuned in to "Xou da Xuxa," a famous children's show in Brazil and Latin America hosted by Brazilian model Xuxa, and "Baila Conmigo" (Dance With Me), a telenovela from the early '90s. The duality of her identity was something she struggled to maintain at an early age.
"English was kind of set aside in our home," Ramos says. "My dad used to always tell me, "En la casa, se habla espanol. When you go to school, you speak English; pero en tu casa, you speak Spanish. It was a juggling act at times."
It's a balance, she says, that many of mun2 viewers understand. And "Reventon," a one-hour music program keeping Latino youth up to date with the regional Mexican music scene serves as a link for newer generations to their heritage. "As a kid, you think, 'I don't want to be Mexican,' " Ramos says. "Then you grow up and find that you appreciate it even more and want more of it."
While a student at the University of Miami, where she received a degree in broadcast journalism and international relations, Ramos found herself longing for that connection -- for the comforts she often tried to ignore as a child.
"When I was miserable in Miami, I would listen to regional Mexican music and go buy myself pan dulce. What do you do when the world is detaching you from yourself? You go back to the things that bring you back to who you are, where you come from."
She went on to start the first Spanish-language television program at her school, interned at Telemundo and found time to teach aerobics. She is pursuing a master's degree in media management at USC when she isn't in the studio interviewing musicians or introducing videos.
On this day, Ramos, her brunet curls cascading down her left shoulder, has just changed outfits to begin filming the latest installment of "Reventon," featuring cumbia music group Los Super Reyes with a special appearance by Frankie J. She asks questions in English. Sometimes she'll punch things up with some Spanish.
It's a juggling act. But she's used to that.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)
TV with a Latin accent
The leading players in the new bilingual TV universe:
Launched: Los Angeles, 2001; nationwide, 2007
Owner: LATV Networks LLC
Audience: Reaches more than 40 million households in the U.S.
Key shows: "En la Zona," a half-hour entertainment show; "Nocturninos," a show that offers a satirical analysis of world events; "Huevocartoon," an animated series.
Headquarters: Los Angeles
Owner: NBC Universal
Audience: Reaches more than 32 million households in the U.S.
Key shows: "The Chicas Project," a reality lifestyle show about hosts Crash and Yasmin; "Reventon," a regional Mexican music show; "The mun2 Hook Up," a reality show where young Latinos get to hook up with their hero for a day.
Headquarters: Universal City
Station: MTV Tr3s
Owner: MTV Networks (Viacom)
Audience: Reaches 38 million households in the U.S.
Key shows: "E.S.L. with Carlos Santos," a bilingual variety show; "Isa TKM," a teen- centered telenovela imported from Colombia; "El Click," an interactive music video show.
Headquarters: New York
-- Yvonne Villarreal