Robert Rodriguez with Jessica Alba, Rosario
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National Council of La Raza kudos also salute Rosario Dawson, Carlos Santana

“This is not the white people Emmys,” said comedian Erik Rivera before the live telecast of the NCLR ALMA Awards on Sept. 27. Tasked with warming up the crowd, he reminded the audience to smile and have a good time before the cameras starting rolling for the live broadcast . “We’re Latinos! We want it to look good on television,” he said.

The American Latino Media Awards, held in Pasadena, Calif., celebrate Latinos in entertainment and was broadcast live on MSNBC this year — or as Janet Murguia, CEO of the National Council of La Raza, put it, “more sabor on NBC”… at least for one hour.

Co-hosts Eva Longoria and Mario Lopez kicked off the show with some “Hardball”-style political banter, commenting on a possible government shutdown. “They should put a Latina in charge of the budget,” she said. “If anyone knows how to stretch a dollar, it’s a Latina.” However, Lopez countered, “If anyone knows how to spend a dollar, it’s a Latina.”

The cast of “Dexter” was honored for special achievement in television, with castmembers Aimee Garcia and David Zayas accepting on behalf of the show. Garcia thanked the fans for their support of the show and Zayas praised the show for its “positive image for Latinos for the last eight years.”

Filly Brown” was also honored for special achievement in film, with producer Edward James Olmos and stars Gina Rodriguez and Lou Diamond Phillips accepting on behalf of the film. Phillips took a moment to remember the late Jenni Rivera, whom he called “the heart and soul of the movie.”

Also honored for outstanding commitment to cause and community were Rosario Dawson and Carlos Santana. This may not have been the white people Emmys, but Dawson’s speech ran long and the music tried to play her off twice, but she kept going, saying, “It’s a really good speech, I promise!”

Director Robert Rodriguez sauntered in during a commercial break and made a beeline to Olmos, before greeting his “Machete” star Danny Trejo

Jessica Alba presented the Anthony Quinn Award for Industry Excellence to Rodriguezand brought out many of the stars of “the Robert Rodriguez family home movies,” including Dawson, grown-up “Spy Kids’” Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara, and “Machete’s” Trejo and Tito Larriva.

“Look at the talent I’ve turned my camera on,” Rodriguez said, marveling at his 20-year career. “It was grim 20 years ago,” he said, “But we have a lot to look forward to. We have our own television network,” he said, referring to his El Rey Network, scheduled to launch at the end of the year. He finished his speech with an encouragement given to him by Ricardo Montalban 20 years ago and said to the young people in the audience, “You are the hope.”

-Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story attributed the first quote to the show’s producer.

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