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Free ride! Puerto Rican Day Parade board extends scholarship awards deadline


The time is ticking for college-bound Boricuas to submit their application for the National Puerto Rican Day Parade Scholarship Awards Program.

In an effort to allow more students the opportunity to apply for the award, the board of directors of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade (NPRDP) decided to extend the deadline until Feb. 15.

“We really want to encourage the kids, but parents have to also take a pretty active role in getting their kids or grandkids to participate,” says Louis Maldonado, executive board member of NPRDP.

Since new leadership was established in 2014, the parade board has placed an increased emphasis on the importance of the academic scholarships that are provided by the organization, along with the annual cultural celebration in June.

“In addition to celebrating culture and passing it on to the youth – we do this to promote education and leadership development,” Maldonado says.

In January, the NPRDP announced it would triple both the dollar amount and number of overall scholarships awarded since the new board took the reins in 2014.

This year, the NPRDP will award 60 scholarships totaling an impressive $120,000, compared to the 15 awards totaling $30,000 when they first began their journey to improve the parade’s community impact and influence.

Students interested in applying for the scholarship must be of Puerto Rican descent, have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and be either a senior in high school or enrolled in a four-year institution.

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Homecoming king: Marc Anthony returning to Madison Square Garden on Feb. 6 after eight years


To say a lot has happened to Marc Anthony in the eight years since he last stepped onto the stage at Madison Square Garden would be an understatement.

When the tropical music icon returns on Feb. 6 to the venue where he helped forge his long and successful career, he’ll be coming back as more than just one of the biggest stars in the Latin music galaxy – not to mention the father of eight-year-old twins with ex-wife Jennifer Lopez.

In just the past few years, the Bronx native, 47, has become a fashion mogul (a clothing line with Kohl’s), a philanthropist (his foundation helps feed and house Latin American orphans), and, most recently, a co-founder of Magnus Media, a Miami-based entertainment and sports production and management company.

It’s a far cry from when Anthony says he would hang around outside the Garden and dream about the day he’d perform inside.

Considering all the success you’ve had there, just how special is your Garden homecoming?

The Garden is the crown jewel. I’ve been all over the world and played amazing houses, but the Garden holds a special place in my heart. That’s where the dream actually started.

That whole area was my stomping grounds in the ’80s when I did hundreds of freestyle records and house recordings. I was down in that area and I would always stop and sit in front of it and dream. It really fed my imagination and my dreams. And then I played there for the first time with Tito Puente – he invited me as a guest vocalist – and the rest is history.

Was it always your goal to parlay your success as a singer into founding a company like Magnus?

I’m an eternal dreamer. I’ve been extremely fortunate that my music has spoken for me for so many years and I’ve had that vehicle. I’ve taken on challenges with my music as my chariot, and I’m fortunate to have been given so any opportunities.

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Monsieur Perine

Grammy-winning Colombian band Monsieur Periné take Manhattan


It was a welcome surprise when Colombian band Monsieur Periné won the Latin Grammy for Best New Artist last November.

The Latin Recording Academy, after all, usually goes for artists with a more traditionally commercial approach to pop music than the gypsy jazz and swing of Monsieur Periné.

The group rode that momentum into New York on Jan. 18 for a show at SOBs that followed a preview event four days earlier at the Highline Ballroom of Central Park’s Summerstage.

“It’s always very significant for Colombians to take part in the Grammys,” says the band’s singer, Catalina Garcia.

“People here are very interested in our experience and in learning about our story, because Colombia may be our home, but a lot of people still don’t know our music.”

The band formed in 2007, when Garcia met guitarists Santiago Prieto and Nicolas Junca, who had started exploring the gypsy jazz of Django Reinhardt and swing.

When her smoky voice was added to the mix, they had a band.

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Grateful for ‘Hateful’: Demian Bichir had a blast in Quentin Tarantino’s new Western


When Mexican actor Demian Bichir was offered an especially hateful role by director Quentin Tarantino, he loved it.

But while reading the script for Tarantino’s upcoming Western, “The Hateful Eight,” the one-time Oscar nominee, who portrays Bob “The Mexican” in the violent feature, was as shocked as he was intrigued.

“Page by page, I remember going, ‘No way! Ah, f—! What the …? No f—— way! Oh, my goodness,’ ” Bichir recalls.

“My girl was listening in the other room, and she was like, ‘What’s going on?’

“I’m like, ‘I’m reading a Quentin Tarantino script. That’s what happens when you read this type of material.’ ”

“Hateful”, which opened Christmas Day and went wide in January, boasts an ensemble cast that includes Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tim Roth. Set in post-Civil War Wyoming, it take place during a blizzard, when tension and suspicion gradually fill the air as a group of strangers — including bounty hunters, a condemned prisoner and a shady sheriff — seek shelter at a stagecoach passover run by Bob.


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Dascha Polanco viva

‘Orange is the New Black’ actress Dascha Polanco getting ‘Joy’ out of her career


Dascha Polanco is feeling pretty golden these days.

Known primarily for channeling convict Dayanara Diaz on “Orange is the New Black,” the Dominican actress recently used the hit Netflix series as a stepping stone to a high-profile Hollywood role — as Jennifer Lawrence’s best friend in the new film, “Joy.”

For Polanco, the fact both projects received a handful of Golden Globe nominations Sunday is a further sign her career is headed in the right direction.

“‘Orange’ has opened many more opportunities for me, such as ‘Joy,’ and ‘Joy’ will open more opportunities for me to have a consistent career,” Polanco, 33, tells Viva.

“The goal here is to be consistent, to be great, and then to also open the door and lend a hand to those that are coming along.”

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mara white heights

“Heights” of arousal: author Mara White co-writes latest urban erotica novel


There’s a simple reason why Mara White has become one of the hottest indie authors in the urban erotica genre.

While her novels contain the kind of steamy sex scenes that would make E.L. James blush, White also knows how to tell a good story that rises above the requisite titillation and often simplistic plots of many erotic romance e-books.

Her books — which usually revolve around mismatched lovers in a forbidden affair — are also gritty, New York-set tales about the culture clash between the city’s white and Latino communities that would stand on their own even without all the naughty parts.

fear of heights“Fear of Heights” is part of White’s “Heightsbound” trilogy about an illicit affair between a young Dominican man from Washington Heights and a 42-year-old uppercrust housewife.


“I started reading erotica because I was sort of bored by high-art literature, and I found it exciting ,” says White. “People don’t realize there’s fantastic writing in (this) genre. I felt I could write this, and it’s something I wanted to do.”

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All about Eva: Longoria camps it up as ‘Telenovela’ diva


Eva Longoria is back on television as another desperate character – the neurotic star of a Spanish-language soap opera.

Largely absent from TV since the series finale of “Desperate Housewives” in 2012, Longoria is now headlining NBC’s new workplace comedy, “Telenovela.”

As high-strung diva Ana Sofia Calderon, Longoria gets to camp it up playing an actress whose personal life is much more melodramatic than any of the storylines unfolding on the fictional novela “Las Leyes de Pasión” (The Laws of Passion).

“I knew I wanted to go back to TV with a really strong, big character,” says Longoria, who came up with the concept for “Telenovela” and is executive producer.

“But at the same time, what I love about Ana Sofia is she’s insecure and vulnerable and fragile. And because of that, she makes a lot of wrong choices, which is fertile ground for comedy.”

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