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Mexican Entertainers Looking at Big Hispanic Market in United States

February 16, 1988

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Mexican entertainers are finding big audiences in the United States, and Daniela Romo is right out there in front.

The 28-year-old actress and singer, whose trademark waist-length hair has led to the marketing of a successful shampoo in Mexico, can remember wanting to be a performer from the time she was born.

″My first words after Mommy were, ’I want to be a star,‴ she said, recalling that she used to line up her dolls as a her first audience.

But even in her wildest dreams, Romo couldn’t have imagined performing before 20,000 fans at New York’s Madison Square Garden or using the dressing room that had been Elvis Presley’s in Las Vegas.

″I never thought,″ she said, breaking into English from Spanish during a recent interview when referring to her career in the United States.

Her fourth album broke through to her widest audience yet last year.

The single, ″Enamorate de Mi,″ or ″Fall in Love With Me,″ topped Billboard’s list of Latin hits in the United States for 1987. The album, ″Mujer de Todos, Mujer de Nadie,″ or ″Everyone’s Woman, No One’s Woman″ was the No. 8 Latin album of the year.

Just as American entertainment companies have discovered through such hits as the movie ″La Bamba″ that the Hispanic market can add significantly to U.S. grosses, Mexican performers have learned that they no longer need to cross the border only to stop at ethnic nightclubs. Romo’s first concert this year was on Feb. 6 at the Municipal Auditorium in San Antonio, Texas.

Mexican performers have had a long success in Hollywood, dating back to such performers as Dolores del Rio in the 1930s. However, the idea of singing in theaters and arenas in the United States seems to have become more accepted in the past five years.

Romo credits such veteran Mexican singers as Jose Jose and Juan Gabriel and their tireless touring for helping establish the routes. Spanish superstar Julio Iglesias’ success in singing in English has helped enormously, but her own plans are simply to concentrate on the Spanish-speaking audience in the United States.

″It’s an enormous population that is eager to hear its own things,″ she said. ″Many people have gone there, and their children have been born there. ... Those kids aren’t going to go with their parents to hear ‘ranchera’ (traditional Mexican) music.″

But they do go, with friends or with their families, to hear Romo sing her brand of bright pop hits such as ″Coco Loco″ in which she calls for everyone to be a little crazy, or rhythmic ballads like her No. 1 hit.

That song, ″Enamorate de Mi,″ also was the theme for her ″telenovela″ or soap opera called ″El Camino Secreto″ (″The Secret Path″). Spanish- langua ge soaps are screened five nights a week but differ from their American counterparts because they have a beginning and an end, with the story running about six months.

Romo jokes that executives suddenly discovered the potential Hispanic marketplace that had been there all along.

″When they realized, they said, ‘Oh My God.’ They are millions of people. ... There’s a Latin American population all over the place.″

The rule of thumb for record sales is that Puerto Rico and the United States add on about a third to a half of what the total is in Mexico - with the added attraction of bringing in dollars instead of pesos.

Sales of 150,000 represent a smash hit in Mexico. A gold record is awarded for each 100,000 discs.

Some consideration is being given to sending Romo’s shampoo to the Hispanic marketplace in the United States.

But much of the first part of 1988 will go to promoting her fifth album, ″Gitana,″ or ″Gypsy,″ including tours throughout Mexico this spring.

″I think it’s a key record in my career as a singer,″ she said in her first interview about the just released album.

In her liner notes, she praises the Gypsy spirit for its ″magic, anarchy, lights, love and passion.″

″As an actress I create other characters, but as a singer, I’m me,″ she said.

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