Success against the odds: Entertainment executive Luis Balaguer gives talk to campus

Founder+and+CEO+of+Latin+World+Entertainment+Luis+Balaguer+speaks+at+Lafayette+College.%0A%0APhoto+by+Jessica+Furtado+19.

Founder and CEO of Latin World Entertainment Luis Balaguer speaks at Lafayette College. Photo by Jessica Furtado ’19.

Aidan Trevisan

Luis Balaguer, founder and CEO of Latin World Entertainment (LatinWE), visited the college Tuesday, addressing the student body on the entertainment industry, where he has worked for more than 25 years. His company, which he started with “Modern Family” star Sofia Vergara, manages and endorses Hispanic talent.

The talk was sponsored by the Policy Studies Program, the Hispanic Society of Lafayette and TEDxLafayette. Balaguer did an exclusive interview with The Lafayette prior to his lecture.

Balaguer, who was named by Hispanic Magazine as one of the “25 Most Powerful and Influential Hispanics” in the U.S., said at the talk that his goal was to have LatinWE become the largest Hispanic company in the U.S. But now, it is close to being the largest Hispanic company in the world.

But while he has found success in the entertainment industry, his road there was not quick or easy. In the interview, he discussed the path he took to get to where he is today.

At 15 years old, he ran away from home and moved to Miami.

“I painted the apartment of this big superstar Latino singer and I would go to his office to get paid,” said Balaguer, who completed only the seventh grade. “Every time I would go, I would see everybody coming from a tour in Asia and then they were doing a tour in Australia and then they were doing concerts in Madison Square Garden and I thought, ‘Oh, what a wonderful life.’”

So he decided he would jump at any opportunity to get into the industry, he said.

“A management company had an opening for a receptionist, and I grabbed the job right away,” Balaguer said. “That’s how I got into this industry.”

Balaguer said it was important for him to represent Hispanic talent specifically because he has seen the discrepancies in opportunities that are available to U.S. citizens versus non-U.S. citizens.

“I, in a way, became kind of like a union with my company that defended all these people,” he said. “I felt that that was where I was needed the most.”

Balaguer said he first came to Lafayette, not as a speaker, but as a father.

His son, Luis Carlos Balaguer Escobar ‘19, is a first-year at Lafayette. Balaguer, who never went to college, said that the first time he came to visit Lafayette with his son, it was a brand new world that he never knew existed. When his son’s professor requested that Balaguer come to speak, he said he was excited to come to Lafayette and make his son proud.

Chair of Policy Studies Mark Crain, who was the professor that requested for Balaguer to come to campus, said he was ecstatic for Balaguer to be here.

“We brought him to come to talk to two of the policies studies courses,” Crain said.  “However, I think he has so many lessons that he can share with the Lafayette community.”

One of these lessons was about having entrepreneurial drive.

Balaguer said that the key to entrepreneurial success is disrupting the status quo and thinking differently. That is what he did with Vergara, he said, by going into business against people that were much stronger than them.

“And today we dominate all of them,” he said.

For Escobar, Balaguer has taught him about more than entrepreneurial success.

“One thing that I have learned from my dad is that the American Dream is very much alive,” Escobar said. “It doesn’t matter in this country if you’re poor or rich, because if someone with a 7th grade education can make it in this country, then anyone can.”