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National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts awards 'West Side Story' actress

Saturday - 10/5/2013, 10:59am  ET

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Rita Moreno is seen before receiving the Raul Julia Award from The National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts (NHFA) at the 17th Annual Noche de Gala in the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. (WTOP/Bob Madigan)
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At the Noche de Gala

WTOP's Bob Madigan reports

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WASHINGTON - A major segment of society is gaining ground and being seen and appreciated for its talents.

That's an important goal for the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts (NHFA). At the 17th Annual Noche de Gala in the Mayflower Hotel Monday Evening, the NHFA honored Academy Award winner Rita Moreno with the 2013 Raul Julia Award for Excellence.

The Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, Tony and Golden Globe award winner has been a living legend since her breakout role as "Anita" in West Side Story more than 52 years ago.

"To get an award from an organization that has been so important to the Hispanic community? That's great!" Moreno told WTOP.

She added that if the NHFA "continues doing that, it can only help the younger people in this business who are having a hard time. Because they still are. The door is only ajar!"

The Raul Julia Award was presented by Raul's widow Merel Julia and is given each year to the person or organization that embodies NHFA's mission to promote Latinos both in front of and behind the camera.

The Horizon Award was presented to actress Aimee Garcia and actor Nicholas Gonzalez.

The National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts is based in D.C. and was founded by actors Jimmy Smits, Esai Morales and Sonia Braga, along with attorney Felix Sanchez, in 1997 to advance the presence of Latinos in the media, telecommunications and entertainment industries.

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