Finding the voices, the faces, the actors and the perfect combination of histrionics for soap operas, films, radio and television commercials or to enliven a show has been the work of Blanca Valdez for almost 20 years.

Her company, Blanca Valdez Casting, is located in the heart of Hollywood and on countless occasions her research has been the first step toward realizing the dreams of success of many actors who today are enjoying the benefits of fame and recognition.

"Eddy Martin, who worked on the film 'The Maldonado Miracle,' began here as a very young boy. Now he's working on the successful series 'Glee.' Wilmer Valderrama, came in when he was very small along with his little sister, who was doing a casting call, and I invited him to audition also. It turned out that they gave him the commercial and that was his first work for television," said the businesswoman in an interview with Efe.

Salma Hayek, Guy Ecker, Sofia Vergara, Eva Longoria, Demian Bichir and even NBA player Pau Gasol have passed under the acute scrutiny of Valdez, who began her career in the entertainment industry at age 12 as a dancer, her first passion.

Before becoming an institution in the art of finding talent and an obligatory reference point for the ad agencies and production companies with whom she works, this "fighter," as she defines herself, had to design her own road to success, based on effort, preparation, a lot of discipline "and an infinite desire to learn and get ahead."

When she returned from her dance tours she needed to continue working and that was how she began helping producers. Then, as the person in charge of the Hispanic market for Moontown Records, her first big project was to get the album "Escenas de Amor" by Jose Feliciano, played on the radio, an album that became one of the most popular at the time.

"After that, I went to work for an Hispanic newspaper and then as a television producer until one day I said: The time has come to work for myself and take a risk," said Valdez, the Los Angeles-born daughter of Mexican immigrants.

She got her start as a talent scout in her small apartment, where she spent many days of uncertainty, but she never gave up.

Doing good work and a deep knowledge of the Latino culture, with its various customs, accents and characteristics - she said - became her strength, and that enabled her to develop her company into California's largest casting agency for the Latino market.

Many of the actors and voices on some of the most famous commercials by firms like Verizon, Honda, Toyota, McDonalds, Clinique and Wells Fargo, among others, were selected at Valdez's auditions.

"When I see the road I've traveled, I feel very proud because I've helped a bit to open up the Hispanic market for many people who come here knocking on my door. When people come to do their auditions, for me it's important that they feel the warmth of a place that respects and values their talent," Valdez emphasized. EFE