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1993
Luis Santeiro
Literature
Luis Santeiro, the 1993 Hispanic Heritage Award Honoree for Literature, is a playwright who has turned his real life experiences into inspiration. Drawing on his Cuban roots and creating mirror-like characters from his family and childhood, Mr. Santeiro uses humor to reach his audiences. Born in Cuba in 1948, Mr. Santeiro moved with his parents to Miami when he was 12 years old. Mr. Santeiro would later utilize the experience of leaving behind his grandparents as inspiration for one of his greatest writings. Visiting his grandmother in Cuba only once in 1979, left a deep impression that would stay with him when describing the differences in life between Havana and Miami. When his grandmother came to Miami in 1984, Mr. Santeiro noticed the mounting cultural and generational differences that made life difficult for his mother and grandmother.

In trying to put his experiences on paper, Mr. Santeiro has written numerous successful plays drawn from his own life including The Lady From Havana, Our Lady of the Tortilla and Praying With the Enemy. Aside from writing plays, Mr. Santeiro has also written for the critically acclaimed show Sesame Street and a bilingual sitcom called, Que Pasa, USA?, which aired in the 1970’s. He has won 8 Emmy’s for his work on television and was the recipient of the National Hispanic Playwright Award in 1999 for Praying With the Enemy. His wonderful use of satire in discussing issues ranging from Hispanic identity to Hollywood have made him one of the most successful Hispanic writers of the 20th century. When asked why he prefers to focus on Hispanic themes in his works, Mr. Santeiro replied, “I thought about this and realized it wasn't a matter of writing about what I knew, I was basically writing about what I loved.”

Recently, Mr. Santeiro has been working on Que Pasa USA?: A Documentary, which will chronicle the life of the famed television series.

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