Mandalit del Barco

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.

del Barco's reporting has taken her throughout the United States, including Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco and Miami. Reporting further afield as well, del Barco traveled to Haiti to report on the aftermath of the devastating earthquake. She has chronicled street gangs exported from the U.S. to El Salvador and Honduras, and in Mexico, she reported about immigrant smugglers, musicians, filmmakers and artists. In Argentina, del Barco profiled tango legend Carlos Gardel, and in the Philippines, she reported a feature on balikbayan boxes. From China, del Barco contributed to NPR's coverage of the United Nations' Women's Conference. She also spent a year in her birthplace, Peru, working on a documentary and teaching radio journalism as a Fulbright Fellow and on a fellowship with the Knight International Center For Journalists.

In addition to reporting daily stories, del Barco produced half-hour radio documentaries about gangs in Central America, Latino hip hop, L.A. Homegirls, artist Frida Kahlo, New York's Palladium ballroom and Puerto Rican "Casitas."

Before moving to Los Angeles, del Barco was a reporter for NPR Member station WNYC in New York City. She started her radio career on the production staff of NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday with Scott Simon. However her first taste for radio came as a teenager, when she and her brother won an award for an NPR children's radio contest.

del Barco's reporting experience extends into newspaper and magazines. She served on the staffs of The Miami Herald and The Village Voice, and has done freelance reporting. She has written articles for Latina magazine and reported for the weekly radio show Latino USA.

Stories written by del Barco have appeared in several books including Las Christmas: Favorite Latino Authors Share their Holiday Memories (Vintage Books) and Las Mamis: Favorite Latino Authors Remember their Mothers (Vintage Books). del Barco contributed to an anthology on rap music and hip hop culture in the book, Droppin' Science (Temple University Press).

Peruvian writer Julio Villanueva Chang profiled del Barco's life and career for the book Se Habla Espanol: Voces Latinas en USA (Alfaguara Press).

She mentors young journalists through NPR's "Next Generation", Global Girl, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and on her own, throughout the U.S. and Latin America.

A fourth generation journalist, del Barco was born in Lima, Peru, to a Peruvian father and Mexican-American mother. She grew up in Baldwin, Kansas, and in Oakland, California, and has lived in Manhattan, Madrid, Miami, Lima and Los Angeles. She began her journalism career as a reporter, columnist and editor for the Daily Californian while studying anthropology and rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley. She earned a Master's degree in journalism from Columbia University with her thesis, "Breakdancers: Who are they, and why are they spinning on their heads?"

For those who are curious where her name comes from, "Mandalit" is the name of a woman in a song from Carmina Burana, a musical work from the 13th century put to music in the 20th century by composer Carl Orff.

In downtown Juarez, Mexico, just across the border from El Paso, Texas, Nelson Armeto and his brothers run a seafood restaurant called Pisces. Like other businesses owners in Juarez, they met with trouble beginning in 2008, when the drug cartels began demanding a monthly extortion fee.

"We received calls telling us we had to pay a quota, otherwise we'd get the business burned down, or a car passing by would be shooting up the place," he says. "They even threatened kidnapping us and even sometimes killing the employees."

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Performance artist and sculptor Chris Burden died last week of cancer. He was 69. Today, his final completed work opens to the public at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, or LACMA. NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports.

Soul singer Percy Sledge epitomized Southern soul in ballads like "When A Man Loves A Woman," which became a massive international hit when it came out in 1966. Sledge died Tuesday morning of natural causes in East Baton Rouge, La. He was 74.

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Beasts of No Nation is the story of a West African child who is forced to join a unit of mercenary fighters. Actor Idris Elba portrays a brutal warlord who recruits the child soldier.

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The Sundance Film Festival wrapped up last weekend. For more than two decades, the festival and the Sundance Institute have been a springboard for independent filmmakers. This year, two of its darlings — Boyhood and Whiplash — are nominated for an Academy Award in the best picture category.

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When Michele Serros burst onto the literary scene in the 1990s, she was a new kind of Latina writer: She didn't speak much Spanish, she listened to ABBA and she was a vegan who liked to surf and skateboard. Her success as a writer, poet and comedic commentator made her an inspirational voice for Chicanas of her generation and beyond.

Serros, who Newsweek once hailed as a "Woman to Watch for the New Century," died of cancer Sunday at her home in Berkeley, Calif. She was 48 years old.

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Jersson Garcia works at Richard Photo Lab in Hollywood. He's 31 years old, and he's got a total crush on Shirley.

"Beautiful skin tones, beautiful eyes, great hair," he sighs. "She's gorgeous."

Garcia is holding a 4-by-6-inch photo of an ivory-faced brunette wearing a lacy, white, off-the-shoulders top. She has red lipstick and silver earrings, and the photo appears to have been taken sometime in the 1970s or '80s.

The color blue has meant a lot of things to a lot of different people. In medieval times, the Virgin Mary's cloak was often painted a celestial, pure, sacred blue. In the early 1900s, Pablo Picasso created somber blue paintings during a period of depression. The color has been championed by everyone from jazz musician Miles Davis and singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell to the theatrical Blue Man Group.

Robert Rodriguez's newest film, Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For, is about to hit theaters — it's a 3-D crime thriller based on Frank Miller's graphic novel series, laden with booze, broads and bullets.

But Rodriguez has also made comedic spaghetti Westerns, vampire flicks and four Spy Kids movies, about a young brother-sister duo of super sleuths — all from his home base in Austin, Texas.

He has been in and out of Hollywood recently, though, putting the finishing touches on Sin City 2.

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

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Born Ruby Ann Wallace in the early 1920s in Cleveland, actress and civil rights activist Ruby Dee most identified with the part of New York City where she was raised.

"I don't know who I would be if I weren't this child from Harlem, this woman from Harlem. It's in me so deep," Dee told NPR's Tell Me More in 2007.

She died Wednesday of natural causes at her home in New Rochelle, N.Y., surrounded by her children and grandchildren. She was 91.

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We've reached a moment that probably shouldn't surprise us when it comes to the modern publishing industry. A lot of people are addicted to buying books online using Amazon. But Amazon is now in a pricing dispute with the publisher Hachette. The online giant is refusing to accept orders for upcoming books from Hachette, which has a heavy-hitting roster of authors. NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO: Some authors are furious at Amazon.

NINA LADEN: They don't really care. It's all about money.

Outside the concert hall at Occidental College, in Los Angeles' Eagle Rock neighborhood, children are invited to test out the instruments the Santa Cecilia Orchestra will play later. Alexa Media Rodriguez, 8, says she and her family have never before been to an orchestra concert. She heard about the orchestra when some of the musicians visited her school.

"I brought my dad, my stepmom," she says, "my sister, my brother and my sister's cousin ..."

That's the thing about this orchestra, says conductor Sonia Marie De Leon De Vega: The children are bringing the parents.

Latin American author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1982, died Thursday. He was 87. Garcia Marquez, the master of a style known as magic realism, was and remains Latin America's best-known writer.

His novels were filled with miraculous and enchanting events and characters; love and madness; wars, politics, dreams and death. And everything he had written, Garcia Marquez once said, he knew or heard before he was 8 years old.

A Writer Shaped By His Beginnings

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NPR's business news starts with Hollywood layoffs.

Sony has notified California's Labor Board that come June it will lay off more than 200 employees at its movie and television studios.

NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports this is happening in a film industry that's facing across the board cost cutting.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: Sony Pictures Entertainment will reportedly lay off its entire interactive marketing team responsible for online movie promos like this.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE PROMO)

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It sometimes feels like church in the auditorium of the Professional Musicians union in Hollywood. It's a Sunday morning, and hundreds of people are gathered to meditate, sing and listen to inspirational poetry and stories.

But then the live band starts up — performing songs by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Jerry Lee Lewis. And instead of a sermon, there's a lecture by experimental psychologist and neuroscientist Jessica Cail about the biology of gender identification and sexual orientation.

This season, Fox Searchlight has served audiences a three-course menu of movies with African-American casts and themes.

First, it served an appetizer in September, with the romantic comedy Baggage Claim, starring Paula Patton as a flight attendant looking for a husband in a hurry.

Then, in October, the studio set out a substantial main course with 12 Years A Slave. The sweeping epic by director Steve McQueen is already an Academy Award shoo-in.

Rapper and producer Sean "Diddy" Combs, director Robert Rodriguez, and basketball legend Magic Johnson each now has his own new cable TV networks. Their channels were part of a merger deal Comcast made with the FCC to give a shot to new networks owned by African Americans, Latinos and others.

Last month, Combs threw on his classic Puff Daddy alias to welcome millennial viewers to his new music network, Revolt.

Fifteen percent of Americans don't use the Internet, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center. Most of these "offline adults" are 65 years old or older, many live in rural areas and have incomes lower than $30,000 a year.

Evangeline Ordaz is no ordinary Hollywood show runner. When she's not teaching constitutional law or rehabbing historic buildings, she's writing for a racy soap opera about Latino teens in East Los Angeles. East Los High was a big summer success for the TV-on-demand website Hulu, and much of the credit for keeping the show real goes to its multitalented main writer.

Ordaz was born and bred in East Los Angeles — East Los, as it's known. She still lives there, and you can hear the neighborhood cadence in her voice.

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Ray Dolby, whose inventions revolutionized the way audiences listen to entertainment, has died. He was 80 years old.

NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports the sound pioneer - whose name became synonymous with sound - died at home in San Francisco.

Celebrity editor Tina Brown announced Wednesday that she's leaving The Daily Beast to launch her own media company. She has been a regular guest on Morning Edition. Brown, 59, plans to produce live forums on news topics.

Brown has edited some of the most prestigious publications: Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and Tattler. Five years ago, she helped found The Daily Beast — a news and opinion website. Now, the editor-in-chief says she's leaving to do what she calls "theatrical journalism" before live audiences.

Adult film production in California is now suspended after a number of performers tested positive for HIV. Four cases have been reported in the past few months, including one on Monday.

If ever there was an "I told you so moment" for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, it's now. The organization has been campaigning for condoms to be mandatory during porn shoots. Last year, it sponsored a measure in Los Angeles County to that effect, which voters approved.

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