You may not have heard of LatinWe (Latin World Entertainment Holdings Inc.) but the multiservice talent management, marketing, production, endorsement and licensing firm has become the go-to destination for Hollywood producers to search for Latino talent, pitch Latino-themed projects and get advice on how to reach Hispanics.
The company, founded by Sofía Vergara and former music promoter Luis Balaguer, has become an influential Hollywood player and a financial powerhouse. Balaguer, LatinWE's chief executive officer, didn't want to reveal its 2011 revenues but conceded that Forbes magazine's recent estimate of $27 million was "impressively close." A great portion of those revenues is built on the successful marketing of Vergara.
SUCCESS IN SPANISH
When Vergara arrived in the United States in 1995, she was an unknown model from Barranquilla, Colombia. She quickly gained popularity on Spanish-language television as the co-host of Univision travel show Fuera de Serie but got no recognition from English-language audiences. A combination of luck, timing, vision and the right partner changed her fortune.
She realized early on that there was a need for good agents and managers to represent Hispanic talent. "Most stars had brothers, aunts or boyfriends managing their careers. Few had their contracts revised by entertainment lawyers. No one was thinking really big on opportunities related to entertainment in our market and how to cross over," she says. "So when I met Luis, his vision on how the opportunities could be handled and his big plans to capitalize on any chance to grow, aligned with mine and we started this adventure."
LatinWE is not just her company, it also represents her as an actress and model, with Balaguer managing her professional interests as well as overseeing all aspects of the company. Vergara's estimated earnings between May 2011 and May 2012 are $19 million, including her Modern Family salary, endorsements (she has done ad campaigns for Diet Pepsi, Burger King and Covergirl) and a lucrative licensing deal with Kmart, which now sells a product line with her name.