On Sept. 17, iconic actress, award-winning producer and accomplished singer Lynda Carter received the prestigious Sor Juana Legacy Award from the National Museum of Mexican Art.
In a sold-out lunch and interview program held in the museum's ballroom, guests dined on boneless chicken, steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes as the celebrated Mariachi Monumental De Mexico provided low key entertainment. After opening remarks by Museum CEO Carlos Tortolero, Board Trustee Marty Castro and Director of Performing Arts Jorge Valdivia, Carter was greeted with a hearty ovation as she opened the festivities.
Despite having a career that has spanned more than 50 years and includes her much-loved performance as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman as well as several Emmy-nominated specials for CBS that she produced, many have never considered Carter as a Latina performer until recently. She joked at the podium, "It's not like I didn't say anything. I was the 'Latin Woman of the Year' in 1979." Apart from her accomplishments in the world of entertainment, Carter was also being recognized as a humanitarian and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. Although the afternoon was filled with many light moments, there was a lot of genuine sincerity flowing back and forth between Carter and her audience.
Carter spoke fondly about growing up in a big Mexican family and one of her fondest memories: "When I found out what was in menudo, I nearly died! We helped make dinner but the menudoit was so gross to cut up!" On a more serious note, Valdivia said, "You inspired me to dream about a hero who didn't necessarily have to be a man." Later during a short audience question-and-answer segment, many in the audience spoke about how they were inspired by her presence and performance as Diana Prince. One young lady spoke about her grandmother who had recently died, while another spoke about how her mother encouraged her to watch the show "because there is a woman who looks just like you."
Carter also talked about more somber times, including the death of her husband and her successful battle with alcoholism. When asked "Who is your Wonder Woman?" by an audience member she said, "My daughter Jessica. The most important part of my life is my family, and for all the things I do they don't mean much without them." She was asked, "When looking back on your career, what brings you joy?" She said, "Being a parent to my children but also my music, and my work ethic." She also said, "Because of Wonder Woman, I've been able to foster a network of charitable endeavors. I find when you help someone, that's what God is like to me."
There were surprises tucked into the short program at the close; Mariachi Monumental De Mexico was joined onstage by noted tenor Jonathon Cebreros for a Spanish version of the Wonder Woman theme song.
The Sor Juana Legacy Honor is named after Jor Juana Ines de la Cruz, a self-educated 16th-century writer, philosopher, composer and poet of the Baroque period and a Hieronymite nun who spoke freely about misogyny and the hypocrisy of men. As a result, she was condemned by the bishop of Puebla, who punished her by taking away her cherished library. Although she died a year later, many years after her death Nobel Prize winner Octavio Paz re-established her importance in modern thinking and de la Cruz is now considered a proto-feminist. Previous recipients of the award include singer/comedian Vicki Carr as well as Mexican actresses Anjelica Aragon and Diana Bracha.