HFPA Members Honored at National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards

Three Hollywood Foreign Press Association members were among those honored at the Los Angeles Press Club’s 14th annual National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards held on Thursday, February 17, 2022, taking home a collective five prizes in a diverse and crowded field of entries and finalists from outlets inclusive of the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Hollywood’s major trade publications.

Typically held at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, this year’s event was, like so many others over the past two years, impacted by the pandemic, and this time held virtually. That didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of Ruben V. Nepales, Lena Basse, and Janet R. Nepales, however. “I watched the online show in my T-shirt and pajama pants. It beat being in a stiff suit and tie in a hotel ballroom,” said Ruben Nepales, good-naturedly. “And Janet and I celebrated with champagne straight from our fridge.”

In the Non-Fiction Book category, Ruben V. Nepales took home the first-place award for Through a Writer’s Lens, published by Queen-B Multi-Media Productions. Drawing on his hearty experience as a photojournalist, the 260-page coffee table book pairs more than 1,000 candid photos of stars with interesting anecdotes and trivia about the enormous variety of talent Nepales has interviewed over the course of the last nearly two decades.

Nepales also notched two other prizes on the evening. He picked up a third-place award in the Online: Soft News, Film category for his feature “From Sublime to Sassy — What Oscars Winners Said ‘Backstage’” for Rappler. He also scored another third-place win in the Online: Entertainment Blog by an Individual or Group, Tied to an Organization category, for his recurring “Only In Hollywood” column.

Basse took third place in the Radio/Podcast: One-on-One Interview, Film Personalities category for “HFPA in Conversation: Ethan Hawke Shines a Light on History,”  a long-form podcast interview with the twice-Golden-Globe-nominated actor that explores both notable highlights from his incredible career, as well as the systemic racism embedded in the DNA of the United States, as laid bare by his work in the recent limited event miniseries The Good Lord Bird, in which he portrays noted abolitionist John Brown.

Hawke has “written three books, and he’s to me an actor, and a philosopher and intellectual,” said Basse. “To me, I [grew] up with his movies and he was somebody who embodied contemporary times. That’s part of why it was so wonderful that we were talking about the symbiotic relationship between his professional and personal life — how he brought his own personality and life experiences into his roles, and what, in turn, he’s taken from those roles. It was really, really interesting to talk to and listen to him. My only task was to listen to him, ask questions, and give him an opportunity to open up.

“At the same time, it was so much material,” she noted. “You could easily do an entire podcast only on the Before trilogy.”

Meanwhile, for her feature “Oliver Stone Recalls Filming in PH in New Memoir,” Janet R. Nepales took third place in the Print: Celebrity News or Feature — Under 1,000 words category. “My interview with Oliver Stone was one of our earliest virtual interviews with Hollywood figures during the pandemic,” Nepales said. “It was memorable talking to Stone because I admired his library and his vast collection of books in the background — the nice thing about doing virtual interviews is you get a peek of the homes or offices of the talent. I like that he vividly remembers his days filming a couple of his memorable movies, Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July in the Philippines. And he keeps abreast of the political situation in the Philippines through the years.”

Born and raised in the Philippines, Ruben V. Nepales wrote the aforementioned column “Only In Hollywood” for the Philippine Daily Inquirer for 15 years. Since mid-2020, the column has been published by Rappler, the Philippines’ leading news website.

In 2012, Nepales published his first book, My Filipino Connection: The Philippines in Hollywood, which won in the Print Journalism — Book category of the Migration Advocacy and Media Awards presented by the Office of the President of the Philippines’ Commission on Filipinos Overseas.

Nepales is also married to journalist Janet Susan Rodriguez Nepales, with whom he has two daughters, Bianca Nicole and Rafaella Angelica.

A prolific entertainment correspondent for outlets all over Eastern Europe, and an HFPA member since 2016, Basse holds a BA from Kyiv State University in Ukraine, and also completed additional entertainment studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her work has been featured in VGL Cinema and Elle Ukraine, among other publications, and she currently works as the Hollywood correspondent and columnist for the popular website DayNight.TV.

A cum laude alumnus of the University of Santo Tomas’ journalism program, where she edited both the college journal and university-wide newspaper, Janet R. Nepales is the Hollywood correspondent for GMA-7 Network and also pens the weekly column “Hollywood Insider” for GMA-7 Online, one of the Philippines’ most popular news websites.

Previously recognized by the Filipina Women’s Network (FWN) as one of the “100 Most Influential Filipino Women in the World,” Nepales recently published her first limited edition coffee table book, FASHION. Filipino. Hollywood. The World. Spotlighting the work of Filipino fashion designers on the red carpet, the tome will soon be available on Amazon in a special paperback edition.