Why LA needs to know Elizabeth Espinosa
Emmy-winning journalist Elizabeth Espinosa is getting a new voice -- and in a different language.
For the first time in her career, the very American -- and half Mexican-Salvadoran -- journalist will be speaking to her fellow Angelenos in Spanish, as the host of CNN Latino's new show "Sin Limites," an informative magazine-style show that will highlight her personal, relatable style while exploring issues affecting the Los Angeles community.
"It's almost as if I'm doing a reverse crossover, right? I can't wait," Espinosa, a weekend news anchor for KTLA, said in an interview. "CNN en Español is doing something so unique and valuable for the Latino community."
CNN en Español launches CNN Latino on Monday in Los Angeles. The local Spanish-language custom bloc hopes to engage the newer generation of Latinos in the U.S., who are comfortable switching back and forth between English and Spanish.
As of now, "Sin Limites" is the only original programming on CNN Latino and will air locally on KBEH-DT Channel 63 at 8 p.m. PT. The first 12 minutes of the show will be a live debate-style show. Experts and newsmakers from the U.S. and Latin America will join Espinosa every night to provide solutions, share different angles, and answer questions from the audience via social media.
"I understand what the Latino in Orange County is like as opposed to the Latino in San Bernardino. There are many levels of every immigration spectrum here. You have the ones that just got here and the ones that have been here for seven generations," Espinosa said. "We come in so many sizes, shapes and forms. I'm that middle ground that understands both."
Espinosa didn't always have her heart set on journalism.
With a full scholarship for law school in hand, she was well on her way to becoming an attorney, inspired by her younger brother's medical malpractice case. But in the end, a law career wasn't for her.
"I was going to live in such misery because I wasn't going to be able to be the voice I wanted to be for this community, the way I wanted to be," Espinosa explained. "God really had a different path for me. Uno pone y Dios dispone, meaning 'Man proposes, God disposes.'"
Espinosa has been an advocate for the rights of the disabled and helps community groups and nonprofit organizations, such as Ability First and Heart of Los Angeles, known as HOLA.
Growing up, Espinosa was the primary caretaker of her disabled younger brother, Christian, now 29. Espinosa is 36. "As you can imagine, Christian has really changed my life. I don't have children, but he's a child to me," Espinosa said. "I think I was his mother in another life. He's given me my humanity. I receive a source of strength from him."
Her story caught the attention of Oprah Winfrey, who selected her as one of the 10 finalists for OWN's "Your Own Show" contest in December 2012.
Espinosa was honored with an Emmy award for her 2007 special, "Forgotten Footprints: The Hunted Children of Uganda." She also produced and hosted a special report about disabled and abandoned children in El Salvador. Espinosa said she's keeping her day job as KTLA's weekend news anchor.
"Elizabeth is a passionate communicator," said Cynthia Hudson, senior vice president and general manager of CNN en Español, in a statement. "With her roots, her drive for communicating under-told stories and her journalistic accomplishments, she will lead destination programming for today's multicultural and multilingual U.S. Hispanic generation."
"'Sin Limites' will make a connection with you. Shows do well when viewers make a connection with the host. We're going to cater to Hispanics because we are going to tackle issues they deal with," explained Espinosa, "Plus, you have a Latina host that was born and raised in the U.S. and understands both worlds."
CNN Latino's first client is KBEH Los Angeles. The hope for the programming bloc is that it will expand into other markets outside of Los Angeles later this year.
Elizabeth Espinosa may be available on a local channel in your city very soon.