Renowned Puerto Rican Author, Writer, Actress and Filmmaker
Esmeralda Santiago was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She came to the United States at thirteen, the eldest in a family that would eventually include eleven children. Ms. Santiago attended New York City’s Performing Arts High School, where she majored in drama and dance. After eight years of part-time study at community colleges, she…
Esmeralda Santiago was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She came to the United States at thirteen, the eldest in a family that would eventually include eleven children. Ms. Santiago attended New York City’s Performing Arts High School, where she majored in drama and dance. After eight years of part-time study at community colleges, she transferred to Harvard University with a full scholarship.
She graduated magna cum laude in 1976. In 1977, she and her husband, Frank Cantor, founded CANTOMEDIA, a film and media production company, which has won numerous awards for excellence in documentary filmmaking.
Her writing career evolved from her work as a producer/writer of documentary and educational films. Her essays and opinion pieces have run in newspapers like the New York Times and the Boston Globe, in magazines like House & Garden, Metropolitan Home, and Sports Illustrated, and as guest commentary on NPR’s All Things Considered and Morning Edition.
Upon publication of her first book, the memoir; When I was Puerto Rican, Ms. Santiago was hailed as “…a welcome new voice, full of passion and authority,” by the Washington Post Book World.
Her first novel, América’s Dream, was published in six languages, and was an Alternate Selection of the Literary Guild. “Thrilling and page turning, the fabulous story of América Gonzalez…is laid out masterfully,” according to the Chicago Tribune.
Her second memoir, Almost a Woman, received numerous “Best of Year” mentions, in addition to an Alex Award from the American Library Association. Her adaptation of the memoir into a film for PBS Masterpiece Theatre, was greeted with critical and audience acclaim and was awarded a George Foster
Her third memoir, The Turkish Lover, has received enthusiastic reviews as “an earthy, heartfelt tale of liberation, desperation, and the crippling grip of love.” (Booklist) It was selected a BookSense recommendation for September 2004 and appeared on several “Best of 2004” lists.
With Joie Davidow, Ms. Santiago is co-editor of the anthologies, Las Christmas: Favorite Latino Authors Share Their Holiday Memories and Las Mamis: Favorite Latino Authors Remember their Mothers both published by Knopf.
She is also the author of the illustrated children’s book, A Doll for Navidades.
In addition to her literary endeavors, Ms. Santiago is an active volunteer. She is a spokesperson on behalf of public libraries. She has designed and developed community-based programs for adolescents, and was one of the founders of a shelter for battered women and their children. She serves on the boards of organizations devoted to the arts and to literature, and speaks vehemently about the need to encourage and support the artistic development of young people. Her community activism was cited when she received a Girl Scouts of America National Woman of Distinction Award in March 2002 along with Alma Powell and Elizabeth Dole.
Ms. Santiago has earned a Master of Fine Arts in Fiction Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and Honorary Doctor of Letters from Trinity University, from Pace University, from Metropolitan College and from Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Mayagüez. The mother of two adult children, she lives in Westchester County, New York, with her husband, filmmaker Frank Cantor. She’s currently at work on a novel.
Ernie was perfect for our Elders Conference at Little River Casino Resort in Manistee, Michigan. We will definitely be using PDA again!
LITTLE RIVER BAND OF OTTAWA INDIANS
Our speaker was great and the crowd enjoyed her! She was very engaging. Thank you again PDA for the great list of suggestions!
Everything went great! and our speaker was wonderful! Thank you so much for all your help PDA! Looking forward to the next one.
UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI – KANSAS CITY
I hope that this message finds you well. We had a phenomenal time with Atsuko this past Thursday. We wanted to just let you know how amazing she was. All those that were in attendance thoroughly enjoyed her and had nothing but amazing things to say about her. Thank you for working with us to make sure this happened!
BAYLOR UNIVERSITY CAMPUS
We had a fantastic day with Inge! She was very engaging with all those that attended. Her personal stories about the holocaust were very special and we were moved that she was willing to share them with everyone. Thank you again, PDA for all your hard work and dedication to make this program such a success!
SALT LAKE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Dear PDA Group, Thank you so much for your hard work in scheduling our speaker! From the moment we reached out to you the first time, you worked with us on all details and logistics and kept us up-to-date on the progress. Thank you for all your hard work on making our event such a success! We couldn't have done it without you and your team!
Thank you again, Dr. Kimbrough, for a great presentation, our attendees are still talking about it!
Dr. Henry Lee's presentation was entertaining, insightful and wise. I, and everyone at Pfizer, especially appreciate the remarks you directed about following your passion and preparing yourself to excel. Thank you, everyone, at PDA for helping to make this happen!
The event was successful! I received many messages expressing how awesome, outstanding and inspiring Ms. Webb-Christburg's speech was."
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. MEMORIAL BREAKFAST, BOSTON, MLK SPEAKER
Everything went well. Atsuko was very easy to work with and the students enjoyed her performance! Thank you again for your recommendation and I hope to work with you again in the future!
CENTRAL MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
Dr. Novello left this morning after a very successful event on our campus! Thank you PDA Group for your help from the first phone to the last you were with us every step of the way.
GRAND VALLEY STATE UNIVERSITY
Jordan Carlos was very very entertaining! A majority of students who answered the event survey indicated they really enjoyed Jordan and definitely will bring him back!
WESTERN CAROLINA UNIVERSITY
On behalf of myself and my organization Entertainment Unlimited the Campus Programming Board of Ferris State University, we thank you PDA and Dan for a successful event!! Dan was magnificent! Students really enjoyed the presentation. I know I did. Can't wait to bring in more programs with PDA Group.
FERRIS STATE UNIVERSITY
It was a great pleasure to work with PDA Group! The communication was always prompt, friendly and helpful. We loved the speakers and events we booked through Mr. Peter Walker (PDA Group).
WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
Thank you, Peter, for all your help, you'll be happy to know that the event went incredibly well! Aneesa Ferreira was by far one of the best speakers we've ever had!
Writing a Life
When I Was Puerto Rican
Esmeralda Santiago: The Turkish Lover
Esmeralda Santiago: 2011 National Book Festival
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