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Ana Martínez: The Latina Behind Every Star on the Walk of Fame

Behind every ceremony in which a star is presented on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, there is a Latina.

Ana Martinez, born in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of a Peruvian father and a Mexican mother, has been a producer of the Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremonies for 35 years.

In that time, she has had many experiences with celebrities who have been honored in the famous Hollywood attraction. Martínez wants to write a book to narrate her stories and she has a lot to tell.

We talked to her in her new office in Hollywood about her work as a producer of the Walk of Fame rites and her experiences with the stars.

How did you get to work on the Walk of Fame?

After an internship at KNBC and working at CBS on The Price Is Right, I saw an ad in Variety for a receptionist for the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. I applied and got the job.

While there, the person who was dedicated to producing the ceremonies told me that he was going to resign for a job somewhere else. He encouraged me to apply for that position, and so I did.

At first, the president of the Walk of Fame told me that I was very shy but 35 years later, I am still here.

What was your first reaction when you got the job?

I was nervous. I woke up at dawn and thought I had to write notes for the ceremony. It was very stressful at first.

What is your job as a producer of the Walk of Fame ceremonies?

I am in charge of everything that has to do with the ceremony of the unveiling of the stars, from choosing the place where they are going to be placed, to managing permits with the police and the city.

I also deal with the family and publicists of celebrities. In short, everything has to do with the ceremony. It’s a week’s job for each star but I really enjoy it.

I am also in charge of the board which selects the new members of the Walk of Fame. I am also the vice president of public relations for the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which has several events throughout the year.

What are the requirements for someone to be a candidate for a star?

A fan club, family, record label, movie company, individuals, and any organization can apply through our website for a celebrity to be considered for a star. The requirements are that the celebrity has a minimum of five years as a professional, has done charity events in the United States, have awards and recognition worldwide.

They must also commit to being present on the day of the ceremony and donating the amount of $55,000. I will explain why that amount. From that money, $30,000 goes to a trust, which is the one in charge of maintaining the Walk of Fame because the city cannot pay for it. The rest we use to make the plaques, the stars, pay the police, security, and everything that involves the ceremonies.

We continue to maintain the Walk of Fame because it is a tradition, a brand, and a tourist spot that also helps Hollywood businesses.

How many requests do you get annually and how many stars do you reveal?

We get about 200 petitions each year and only 35 are chosen. Before there were 24 and we want to return to that number but the pandemic happened. Several ceremonies were delayed and we had to make changes.

What was the first star you worked for?

The Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band in 1987.

What is the most important challenge of your work?

Each ceremony is different. The biggest challenge is closing the streets to be able to hold the ceremonies since the police are becoming stricter in that aspect.

What is the biggest ceremony you ever had?

When Selena Quintanilla’s posthumous star was unveiled, 4,500 people turned out. It was a very nice night – her family came, her widower, and many of her fans. The star is in front of Capitol Records.

The ceremony for the star of Vicente Fernández was also very big with 4,000 attendees, to the point that we had to close the avenue.

And of other ceremonies?

The Rock had 2,000 people. A funny story happened that day because everything was ready and The Rock did not want to leave the store that is next to the Walk.

I had to go look for him and he told me that he couldn’t go out because he was waiting for his jacket that he had forgotten in the car.

Any other interesting trivia?

With Reese Witherspoon. She was deciding where to put her star. At that time, my daughter told me, “Mommy, look, there’s a W (in the W hotel) like her last name.” And we put it there, outside the hotel in Hollywood.

Reese brought Legally Blonde’s dog to that ceremony, which ran away from her and I had to go look for him. They took pictures of me giving the dog back to her.

In Thalia’s case, she began to do yoga in the star. I also remember that my mother came to Luis Miguel’s ceremony and she was talking to him and hugging him the whole time.

Is it easier to organize an American ceremony than a Latin one?

Latinos are very passionate and like to do things without consulting me. For example, Pepe Aguilar wanted to bring two two-seater buses for his ceremony, one for the mariachi and one for a band. I told him that he couldn’t and guess what happened? He brought them and they parked across the street.

Something also happened with Angélica María. She arrived in a convertible car and sat on top of a seat, which is very dangerous. The problem was that she got to where her fans were and since she is very loved, they went with her.

Those are the things that sometimes happen but in the end, everything is solved. The only thing that happens is that I get stressed because I don’t want something bad to happen.



Tell me why Muhammad Ali’s star is not on the ground but on a wall.

His name is Muhammad Ali and Muhammad was a prophet to the Muslim community. He didn’t want Muhammad’s name to be stepped on out of respect for the prophet so Johnny Grant (the Walk of Fame president at the time) told him, “Don’t worry, we’ll fix it.” And his star was put on a wall next to the entrance to the Dolby Theatre.

Is it true that Prince did not want to have a star?

We tried to give Prince the star before and after he died. A friend of his named Jimmy Jam Harris, who is a music producer and already has his own star, called me to say that he was going to nominate Prince.

He went and asked him at the time and Prince told him no, he wasn’t ready. Unfortunately, he later died, and, although I spoke with the family’s lawyer to nominate him, they refused.

Something similar happened with the star of Tupac Shakur, who was nominated many years ago. Until now, it seems that a production company is going to release a project of its own. they are going to wait until next year so that it coincides with the launch of that production.

Has anyone told you, “I want my star in front of the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre”?

Yes, and I tell them no, that we are waiting for Julia Roberts because we are going to place hers there. She was selected a couple of years ago and we are waiting for her to tell us the date.

As a Latina, has it been easy or difficult to be in this job?

I have been very lucky because they have treated me very well. I have never had any problems. Many times, people don’t think I’m Latina but Iranian or another nationality.

I am the most loved or hated woman when I give the news about who will or will not have a star. They have called me a racist; they get angry when they don’t get the star and I tell them that I don’t vote.

After so many years, do you still enjoy what you do?

Yes, every ceremony is difficult and stressful and I still get nervous when I know it will be a big ceremony because I don’t want any incident to happen.

Did an artist not show up for your ceremony?

Yes, Barbra Streisand. She was ready, people were waiting for her and she didn’t show up. She was very nervous, and she panicked.

Johnny Grant asked the Wax Museum to bring her figure to the ceremony so that it could take place. And when we unveiled the star of her husband, James Brolin, Barbra came to the ceremony and everything was fine.

Who are the next celebrities, both Hispanic and from other cultures, that will receive a star?

Angélica Vale, Los Huracanes del Norte, Paul Walker, Uma Thurman, Marc Anthony y la estrella póstuma de Jenni Rivera. También Jonas Brothers, Lenny Kravitz, Sheila E, Ludacris, Bill Pullman, Ellen Pompeo, John Waters, Ralph Macchio, Juanita Moore, Julia Roberts, Vince Vaughn, Martin Lawrence, Jon Favreau, Melba Moore and Blake Shelton among others.

Would you like to write a book about the stories that you experienced on the Walk of Fame?

Yes, I am always saying that I want to write a book but I forget. I take notes, I have a little book but I am very busy and I need time to do it. I would like to talk about the unique things that happen in the ceremonies.