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ALMA Honors The "Ugly" And The Talented

"Ugly Betty" and its star, America Ferrera, took top honors Sunday at the 2008 ALMA Awards, which recognize achievements by Hispanic artists.

The comedy series won awards for Directing and Best Performance by a Latino-led ensemble cast.

Ferrera, 24, was named Chevy Entertainer of the Year for her on-screen work as Betty Suarez in "Ugly Betty" and her off-screen efforts to encourage young people to get involved in the political process.

Shakira was also recognized for her offstage efforts, receiving the Humanitarian Award for her work in early childhood education.

A host of other music artists, including BeBe Winans, Wynonna Judd and Lucero, performed a tribute to Linda Ronstadt, who received the Trailblazer Award for her contributions to American music.

Other acting-award winners included Charlie Sheen, Edward James Olmos, Roselyn Sanchez and Judy Reyes.

Designer Narciso Rodriguez was honored for Special Achievement in Fashion.

"High School Musical's" young actors Ashley Tisdale and Zac Efron got nervous about presenting the Special Achievement ALMA Award to their director Kenny Ortega.

Zac confessed: "I have never been more excited to present an award in my life" and Ashley added: "I didn't want to mess up."

The Black Eyed Peas, the Cheetah Girls, Sergio Mendes plus Cheech and Chong performed at the ceremony at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

Television and film actress Eva Longoria Parker, returned once again as executive producer and host of the telecast.

"Oh God, tonight is so important," noted Longoria. "It's the largest stage Latinos have in Hollywood to be able to recognise the positive portrayals of Latinos in television and music and film. So you'll see a lot of talent here tonight."

"La Misma Luna" or "Under the Same Moon" received a Special Achievement award - being considered an Outstanding Spanish Language Motion Picture.

The film had the highest-grossing opening ever for a Spanish-language film in the United States in March, playing to both Latino and art-house audiences and took in $12.3 million to make it the country's third-top-grossing Mexican import.

"That's the most important part, the message which is not to separate the family," explained "Under The Moon" star Kate del Castillo.

"That's what unites society. It doesn't matter if you are an immigrant. That's not the point of the movie. What's important is the human part that it shows."

The National Council of La Raza, the country's largest Hispanic advocacy organization, created the ALMA Awards in 1995 to honour Hispanic performers and promote positive images of Hispanics in entertainment. ALMA stands for American Latino Media Arts and also means "soul" in Spanish.

The ceremony will be televised in on Sept. 12 on ABC.

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