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INTERVIEW: Belita not “Benny” Moreno

By Al Carlos Hernandez
Herald de Paris

HOLLYWOOD — Actress/acting coach Belita Moreno is one of the most recognizable comedic actress on television and probably the most recognizable Latinas in the history of network TV. She can be seen on televisions around the world and is best known for her television roles as George Lopez’s mother on “The George Lopez Show” now in syndication. She also starred and had a long network run as Lydia Markham on “Perfect Strangers.”

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Belita was born in Plano, Texas after her parents came to the U.S. from Mexico. They raised her in Dallas where she majored in theatre at Southern Methodist University. She continued her acting studies at the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Santa Maria, California where she appeared on stage in the play Once Upon A Mattress.

Soon after Moreno arrived in Los Angeles to pursue her acting career, she met director Robert Altman and landed roles in three of his films: 3 Women, A Wedding, and A Perfect Couple. She has also appeared in many other films including Mommy Dearest, Swing Shift, Oh God! You Devil, Nobody’s Fool, Men Don’t Leave, Clear and Present Danger, and Grosse Pointe Blank.

Belita became an American Icon by playing the wise and wise cracking Benita “Benny” Lopez on George Lopez from 2002 to 2007. The character of “Benny” is the mother of the character played by comedian George Lopez, although off-screen Moreno is actually only 11 years older than Lopez (but looks younger than El Chingon).

Belita was a regular on the long-running ABC sitcom Perfect Strangers from 1986 to 1992 and then in a regular role for five seasons as advice columnist Lydia Markham. Her work on television includes appearances in television movies such as Crazy From the Heart and Death Benefit, the mini-series Tales of the City, and in numerous sitcoms and dramatic series including The Golden Girls, Family Ties, Valerie, and Melrose Place.

In theatre, Moreno had roles in Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Beth Henley’s, The Miss Firecracker Contest and The Lucky Spot, both Off-Broadway, as well as in the Broadway premiere of The Wake of Jamey Foster.

For years Belita Moreno has been known as one of the entertainment industry’s most prominent acting coaches. She has coached many top stars and consulted with some of the major filmmakers in the movie business, working on such films as Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous, Crossroads, Blade II, Rush Hour 2, Family Man, A Time to Kill, The Client, Parent Trap, and 17 Again. Her coaching clients have included Rene Zellweger, Kate Hudson, Aaron Eckhart, Zac Efron, Nikki Blonsky, Lindsay Lohan, Diane Keaton, Chris Tucker, Eminem, Britney Spears, and Usher, among others.

Herald de Paris Deputy Managing Editor Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez had the honor to make Belita’s acquaintance though mutual friend, writer and producer Luisa Leschin Ms. Moreno and I have been playing phone, text, IM and email tag for two months. Now it’s time to tell a true American success story:

AC: What was the first experience when you decided that you wanted to be an actor? How did your parents feel about your choice of vocation and were they supportive of you? How was growing up in Texas?

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