Thalía: 1972—: Singer, actress
Known as the Latin music queen and TV's eternal Cinderella of the soaps, Thalía has become a one-word global entertainment phenomenon. Like child star Shirley Temple, she navigated a career starting at age four, in singing groups, two stage musicals, video and movie roles, and TV variety-show hosting. Her appearances in Mexico's top-rated TV melodramas, which cast the sensuous beauty as the perpetual maiden, won her a worldwide fan base. She is best known for her alluring pop videos and vocal albums, comprised of many songs she wrote and performed in Spanish, English, French, Tagalog, and Portuguese.
Began in Film
Born to Ernesto Sodi y Pallares and Yolanda Miranda y Mange, at Hospital Español in Mexico City on August 26, 1972, Ariadne Thalía Sodi y Miranda was the youngest of five, which included sisters Laura, Ernes-tina, Gabriela, and Frederica. Thalía (pronounced tahLEE-ah) got her start in film at age four, when she obtained a walk-on role in a movie that also featured her sister, Laura. When their father died unexpectedly in 1977, Thalía withdrew from normal activities and fell silent, an emotional trauma that she later described in the song "En Silencio."
Not yet ensnared in career entanglements, Thalía was educated at the Thomas Alva Edison School and Liceo Franco Mexicano. She studied French, art, and music, but enjoyed rough-and-tumble play. She loved outdoor sports and dreamed of emulating tumbler Nadia Comaneci by winning for Mexico an Olympic gold medal in gymnastics. After enrolling in classical ballet at the Academia de Nellie Happee, Thalía explored a feminine side and often pictured herself as a singer and actor. In 1980 she began piano lessons at the Instituto Mexicano de Musica and joined Din-Din, a two-girl, two-boy singing group that appeared at arts festivals and recorded four albums, beginning with Alegrias Musicale.
At age twelve Thalía won second place singing at the festival Juguemos a Cantar. In 1986 producer Luis de Llano hired her to sing backup with Timbiriche, a teen band with whom she appeared in a 1987 Halloween special, Noche de Brujas y Terror. The band recorded three CDs: Timbiriche VII, Timbiriche VIII, and Timbiriche IX. When the group staged the pop musical Vaselina (Grease) in Mexico, she appeared as a chorus girl. After the lead singer left, Thalía quickly mastered the one-dimensional Sandra Dee. The performance catapulted Thalía to the level of recording artist and television personality.
At a Glance . . .
Born Ariadne Thalía Sodi y Miranda on August 26, 1972, in Mexico City, Mexico; married Thomas D. Mottola on December 2, 2000. Education: Thomas Alva Edison School, Liceo Franco Mexicano, Academia de Nellie Happee; Instituto Mexicano de Musica, 1980.
Career: Singer, with group Din Din, 1980; singer, with group Timbiriche, 1986-89; telenovela actor, 1988; variety show host, VIP de Noche, 1991; film singer, Anastasia, 1997; actor, Mambo Café, 1998; spokesperson, Latino.com, 2000; eyewear spokesperson, 2001.
Awards: Platinum album, Thalía, 1995; Thalía Day, Los Angeles, 1997; Premio Lo Nuestro, 2000; Grammy, 2001.
Addresses: Office— Signatures Network, Inc., 2 Bryant Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, CA 94105; Website— http://www.thalia.com/index.php.
From Bit Player to Idol
In her mid-teens Thalía took bit parts in three weekday serials, La Pobre Señorita Limantour (1987), Quinceañera (1988), and Luz y Sombra (1989). When Timbiriche disbanded, she spent a year in Los Angeles training under starmaker Florence Riggs, who had furthered Madonna's career. Thalía's subsequent command of English and mastery of fashion, singing, dance, and guitar advanced her in the entertainment pecking order. At work with producer Alfredo Diaz Ordaz, she issued vocal albums—Thalía, Mundo de Cristal, and Love, and in 1991 co-hosted a popular variety show, VIP de Noche, on Channel 5-Spain. The shift from sweet to smoldering at first stymied Thalía watchers, who were uneasy with a prowling sex kitten in place of the familiar teen star.
As a soap opera diva, Thalía garnered fans for playing sweet village lasses in a trilogy, Las Tres Marias: Maria Mercedes (1992), Marimar (1994), and Maria la del Barrio (1995). The telenovela series, which evolved from Hispanic oral tradition to a radio staple, thrived on Spanish-language TV channels in 120 countries. The grueling on-camera schedule threatened Thalía's health. She fainted on the Marimar set and rested for a week before returning to work. Soap fans bombarded stations to demand her return.
Restored to health and regular appearances, Thalía did not disappoint the public. Her brown eyes, lustrous brown hair, lithe shape, and coy posturing won devoted followers throughout Latin America and Asia, particularly in the Philippines and Indonesia. Her starring roles so entranced Filipinos that employers threatened workers who left their posts during broadcasts of daily soap opera segments. When she toured the Philippines in 2001, riot police held back emotional mobs that wanted to admire her at close range.
Entertained Around the World
Thalía's versatility increased her appeal in television, stage, comedy, theater, and music. After singing with a derivative little-girl-lost style on stage and in the album Thalía in 1995, she pumped up her mike presence with a more vibrant, mature voice on En Exstasis, her first album on the EMI Latin label. Diverse ballads and dance numbers produced by Emilio Estefan, Oscar Lopez, and Kike Santander proved her capable of variety and vigor, particularly the come-hither cumbia tune "Piel Morena," which was the focus of a spicy video. She also debuted as co-composer of the sincere, tuneful "Lagrimas," reputedly a tribute to Alfredo Diaz, her producer and lover who died of hepatitis. The mix boosted Thalía to the top of the Latin music charts, as the platinum album set sales records in 20 countries.
By 1996 Thalía appeared on the top ten lists in every Latin American nation and increased her popularity among U.S. Latinos. Awards and honors brought her interviews in movie magazines, a presentation as Queen of Telenovelas by Mexico's President Ernesto Zedillo, an appearance before President George W. Bush and his guests to sing Cinco de Mayo folksongs, as well as bookings at Chile's Viña del Mar in Chile, Miami's Calle 8 Festival, Noches de Carnaval, the Fiesta Broadway in Los Angeles, and Peru's Feria la Molina. She performed three songs in Spanish and Portuguese on the animated film Anastasia, which premiered in Mexico on November 20, 1997, complete with star treatment and autographing sessions.
In 1997 the 34-track album Amor a la Mexicana swept to the top. For her success, Billboard reviewer Teresa Aguilera dubbed Thalía "Latin America's Reigning Music Queen." The singer obviously owed much to producers Emilio Estefan, Kike Santander, and Pablo Flores, for skillfully blending salsa, cha cha, rap, reggae, and cumbia, and for depicting her as a proud Latina. Her handlers cleverly booked her for advertisements and banked on the success of spin-offs, notably lingerie, sleepwear, and a Thalía doll that is popular in Brazil.
In 1997 Thalía explored the Filipino market with the smash album, Nandito Ako. Multiple recognition in television, electronic and print ads, stage, and recording brought her honor in Mexico City, where city officials unveiled a wax image of Thalía at the Museo de Cera. On April 25, 1997, citizens of Los Angeles celebrated "Thalía Day." The surge of contracts brought her parts in the feature film Mambo Café (1998), a family comedy set in New York's Spanish Harlem, and, in 1999, the starring role in the soap opera Rosalinda.
Captured Vocal Stardom
Thalía's emergence was not without its stumbles. Less praiseworthy amid a string of acting triumphs was the bumbling CD Mis Mejores Momentos: Para Coleccionistas, a 1998 release that tried too hard to sell Thalia's child-like innocence and thin voice. Critics agreed that the album was not one of her better moments. The poorly executed Serie Sensacional in 2000 also left Thalía watchers puzzled as to the direction of her singing career, but the lull was short-lived.
Much of the heat generated by Thalía's vocals derived from the energetic numbers on the CD Con Banda Grandes Exitos, and from Arrasando, her most praised album. It successfully allied the Latin dance ballad "Rosalinda" with mambo, rap, rhythm & blues, and pop, reaching international audiences with its compelling dance beats and seductive sizzle. In 2000 the CD topped Billboard's Latin pop vocal charts, earning Thalía the Premio Lo Nuestro award for top female vocalist. She also signed on as spokesperson for Latino.com, a network of print, radio, television, as well as Web interviews, a venue guaranteeing her the public's continuing adoration.
Radio charts touted the singer's three top singles—"Entre el Mar y una Estrella", "Regresa a Mi", and "Menta y Canela". Thalía also cut a fourth single, "Reincarnación," which was featured on MTV, HTV and Telehit. A year later the album earned two Latin Grammy nominations—Best Female Pop Vocal Album and Best Recording Engineering for an Album—and won in the second category. Her website, Thalía.com, recorded her low-key response: "I think that it is valuable to feel that your work has been taken into consideration by so many respected people in the music industry."
Compared to Marilyn Monroe
Thalía's grasp of fame is not without guile. A performance of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" on the Mexican talk show La Movida made a canny connection between the budding sex goddess and Marilyn Monroe, one of the world's most ogled sirens. The alliance was no one-time event. In public appearances and interviews, Thalía dressed and postured like Marilyn Monroe, emulating her stagy innocence and wardrobe as well as the famous sex symbol's pout and calculated body language. In a wide-eyed interview with Arisorama concerning her appeal in Greece, Thalía gushed over her Greek fan base, the reception of her soap opera characterizations, and her album Amor a la Mexicana. She expressed gratitude for the generous outpouring of love from strangers in a foreign land and promised to visit the country to experience Greek idol worship.
At one time Thalía declared her primary loyalty to her mother-manager, Yolanda Miranda de Sodi. The singer and actress looked ahead to a full career, but anticipated even more a successful marriage, which she considered a basis for happiness. On December 2, 2000, she wed Sony Music mogul Thomas D. "Tommy" Mottola at a $3 million show-biz wedding in New York City's St. Patrick's Cathedral. Fans feared that pairing with Mariah Carey's cast-off ex was a fatal career move for Thalía. The age difference—Thalia's 28 to Mottola's 52—had tabloids predicting disaster. Settled in New York City, she appeared unfazed by gossip and launched a line of eyeware for Kenmark Optical while planning more albums.
Mundo de Cristal, 1991.
En Extasis, 1995.
"Maria La Del Barrio" (single), 1996.
Amor a la Mexicana, 1997.
Nandito Ako, 1997.
Jugo de Éxitos, 1998.
Mis Mejores Momentos: Para Coleccionistas, 1998.
Serie Millennium 21, 1999.
Serie Sensacional, 2000.
Con Banda Grandes Éxitos, 2001.
Forest of Minds, 2001.
"It's My Party" (single), 2001.
Serie 32, 2001.
BPI Entertainment News Wire, April 8, 2002.
Hispanic, November 1997; January 2001; November 2001.
Latina, May 2002.
New York Times, August 27, 1996.
PR Newswire, November 5, 1998; January 22, 1999; April 3, 2000.
Television Asia,, January 2001.
Time, January 8, 2001.
Variety, December 8, 1997; January 25, 1999.
Video Store, November 19, 2000.
Thalyvision: Biography, http://www.cgi.tripod.com/Thalia_Fan/cgi-bin/thalyvision.cgi?menu=menu3&go=biography
Thalía Arrasando, http://www.mostbeautifulwoman.com/newswomen/Thalia.shtml
Thalía, the Official Site, http://www.thalia.com/index.php
Thalía's World, http://www.thaliasworld.com/Birth
—Mary Ellen Snodgrass
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