Endemol Shine North America and Major TV have optioned the rights to the late Latin superstar Celia Cruz’s best-selling autobiography, Celia: My Life, with plans to adapt it as a scripted series.
Known as the Queen of Latin music, Cruz won four Grammy Awards and five Latin Grammy Awards. She recorded 23 gold albums and garnered millions of loyal fans globally before her passing in 2003.
Kenny Ortega (High School Musical) is on board to serve as an executive producer and direct the series. Flavio Morales, executive VP of Endemol Shine Latino’s U.S. initiatives, is also set to serve as an EP.
The English-language series will be based on Cruz’s only authorized autobiography, with a foreword by the late Maya Angelou. There are also more than 500 hours of taped interviews by the Smithsonian, recorded just months before her passing.
“There is no bigger name in Latin music than Celia Cruz,” said Endemol Shine North America’s CEO, Cris Abrego. “We are thrilled to be adapting her amazing life story, one filled with triumph and tragedy, for a dramatic television series with a producer of Kenny Ortega’s pedigree attached.”
Ortega commented, “I had the extraordinary honor of working with Celia Cruz many years ago as a burgeoning choreographer on a little movie called Salsa. While we were working together, Celia and her husband invited me to join them for her concert at the Hollywood Palladium. Celia seated me in a chair on stage and I was there, in the light, watching La Reina de la Salsa, hypnotizing the audience with her voice and performance magic. Over the years, my appreciation of her gift to music has grown and deepened. Celia has been an inspiration for so many and I am honored to participate in this tribute of the incomparable Celia Cruz.”
“With a voice that transcended language, color, race and gender, Celia Cruz broke barriers, changed the landscape of music and became a global icon,” added Major TV’s Raymond Garcia. “Capturing her authorized life story for the first time on screen, in any language, is an incredible milestone. We are honored to have the captivating vision of Kenny Ortega guiding this production. His universal sensibility in storytelling, expertise in resonating with viewers through music and dance, coupled with his sincere cultural and personal connection with Celia, makes this one of the most important, moving, and electrifying musical series of all time.”
Omer Pardillo Cid, executor of the Celia Cruz Estate and her former manager, said: “Celia Cruz was a black woman, of limited means, who painfully abandoned her small island and triumphantly conquered the world with the power of her voice. Her story is a testament of perseverance, hope and inspiration that deserves to be told.”
Endemol Shine and Major TV previously jointly optioned the rights to Chris Perez’s To Selena With Love, the best-selling book that tells the late Latin superstar Selena Quintanilla-Perez’s love story through the eyes of her husband.