As American Soap Operas Bust, Telenovelas Boom in US


"[The viewers] used to say I didn't cry enough," Soto said. "They wanted more drama, but that's not my fault, but when they want some change we just make the changes."

The ability to respond to viewer feedback is precisely one of the reasons telenovelas are still going strong. Becky Villaescusa of Latin World Entertainment, one of the biggest talent agencies for Hispanic actors in the U.S., said the success of telenovelas has helped pave the way for their stars to cross over into other media.

"They need to be talented, they need to be bilingual, bicultural," Villaescusa said. "Those are the most important things."

And the opportunities for talent to get noticed in the general market are booming. Soto said she recently saw herself on the cover of a gossip magazine in Hungary and her "Eva Luna" series is being dubbed into dozen of languages for viewers in Europe and Asia.

"It's weird because I see myself talking in Thai and Chinese," she said, laughing.

Sofia Vergara was just 17 when landed her first TV spot -- a Pepsi ad in Latin America. Now, the 39-year-old actress is the international face of Diet Pepsi, Burger King and K-Mart. Morales said the audience responds when their favorite stars can make an "intimate connection" to them.

"For us they're rock stars," she said. "And when people in Hollywood see 50 million Hispanic [viewers] and the money we bring to the table and the fact that they are extremely loyal to the talent that captures their heart, they'll remember that."

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