When A Reporter Gets Starstruck Over Ricky Martin
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
And now for something I saw this week that brought me a lot of joy because even reporters get starstruck. It's true. Ana Belaval is a reporter with WGN TV in Chicago. And she is, to put it mildly, a huge fan of Ricky Martin. Listen.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
ANA BELAVAL: So - no. But seriously, he called me mama, baby. Can we make this happen?
GARCIA-NAVARRO: She was gushing after a live interview with the Puerto Rican actor and singer. And what she didn't know but everyone else could see was Ricky Martin was actually listening. What followed was TV gold.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I'll call 911, Ricky. Don't worry.
BELAVAL: Oh, he's still there?
RICKY MARTIN: Don't. I love what I'm hearing. I love it. I love it.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Ana Belaval is on the line. Welcome to the program.
BELAVAL: Thank you. Such an honor to join you, Lulu. Good morning.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Good morning. You are, I take it, a huge Ricky Martin fan. I'm a huge Ricky Martin fan. You sounded very excited there.
BELAVAL: Oh, I clearly was. And if I was going to go viral, it is awesome to go viral with him.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I think you might be as famous as Ricky Martin right now after that interview (laughter).
BELAVAL: Oh, goodness. To be on the same sentence with him is just amazing. I've been following him since Menudo. My mom took me to a concert. I remember (speaking Spanish) in Puerto Rico. And my friend Celeste and I made our mothers not sing because we needed to sing and take it all in. So I've been a huge fan for a long time. I remember people were joyful. And I was like, oh, my goodness. He's one of mine.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: And Menudo, for people who might not remember - that was the boy band that he was a part of back in the '80s.
BELAVAL: I can't believe we have to explain that, Lulu. I really can't. We're that old.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I know. But there's some people out there who may not know. So you actually lobbied your colleague Dean Richards to let you ask a question during the actual interview. Why were you wanting to be a part of this interview, other than the fact that you are such a fan?
BELAVAL: I have had so many missed opportunities to meet him. And honestly, after Hurricane Maria, when the local government was running around like headless chickens, these performers just went to work - right? - put boots on the ground. And he was - I will never forget. No one could get to Aguadilla. And he got a FedEx plane to Aguadilla, which is on the west coast of the island, to go help people who really needed it. And so that just elevated him in my eyes.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: You did attribute your enthusiasm to being a minority and a native Puerto Rican when you were explaining why you were so excited to your colleagues.
BELAVAL: This is the other thing. I've traveled. I've been blessed to travel for work. And wherever I go, and I say Puerto Rico, they say Ricky Martin. And honestly, you know, as a member of a minority, we don't have a lot of positive images in the general market, in life in general because they're not exposed. It's just outstanding. And I needed to thank him. I guess I've reached that age that I act like my mother. And I needed to, on behalf of the island of Puerto Rico, thank him and also ask him if he was going to continue those missions because we do need all that help. And we need the focus on our island and all the other islands that were affected by Hurricane Maria.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So I have to ask you - what happened later? Did Ricky reach out? What's been the response generally to your interaction?
BELAVAL: Well, you know, there's a lady who gave me a great line that, in Puerto Rico, we're all six degrees of Lin-Manuel Miranda because we're all related or know somebody somehow that knows Lin.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Lin-Manuel Miranda, of course, the creator of "Hamilton" on Broadway.
BELAVAL: Oh, yes. So that's what we've been playing. Like, my sister-in-law knows a niece of a good friend of his. And it's more been the viral phenomenon than honestly him reaching out to me. But I have a friend who said we should start, like, a crowdfunding thing where we raise funds for Puerto Rico recovery, and Ricky and I finally hug. So...
GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter) I feel like you get something out of that.
BELAVAL: Yes, for the island, absolutely - and, you know, I would love to travel with him to Puerto Rico on one of his missions and help out and cover it for our station and keep the ball rolling where it comes to our recovery.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, congratulations on meeting your celebrity crush.
BELAVAL: (Laughter) Well, not yet, Lulu - I don't know what I'm going to do if I ever meet him in person. They're going to have to bring the rescue team. No. I'll be dignified. I've been doing this for long enough that I know how to behave in an interview. I just swore that I - he couldn't see me. And my co-workers and I were just chatting. And that's the kind of show we have.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter) Ana Belaval is a reporter with WGN TV in Chicago. Thank you so much.
BELAVAL: Thank you.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Speaking Spanish).
BELAVAL: (Speaking Spanish).
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CLARIDAD")
MENUDO: (Singing in Spanish). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.