Mandalit del Barco

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.

del Barco's reporting has taken her throughout the United States, including Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco and Miami. Reporting further afield as well, del Barco traveled to Haiti to report on the aftermath of the devastating earthquake. She has chronicled street gangs exported from the U.S. to El Salvador and Honduras, and in Mexico, she reported about immigrant smugglers, musicians, filmmakers and artists. In Argentina, del Barco profiled tango legend Carlos Gardel, and in the Philippines, she reported a feature on balikbayan boxes. From China, del Barco contributed to NPR's coverage of the United Nations' Women's Conference. She also spent a year in her birthplace, Peru, working on a documentary and teaching radio journalism as a Fulbright Fellow and on a fellowship with the Knight International Center For Journalists.

In addition to reporting daily stories, del Barco produced half-hour radio documentaries about gangs in Central America, Latino hip hop, L.A. Homegirls, artist Frida Kahlo, New York's Palladium ballroom and Puerto Rican "Casitas."

Before moving to Los Angeles, del Barco was a reporter for NPR Member station WNYC in New York City. She started her radio career on the production staff of NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday with Scott Simon. However her first taste for radio came as a teenager, when she and her brother won an award for an NPR children's radio contest.

del Barco's reporting experience extends into newspaper and magazines. She served on the staffs of The Miami Herald and The Village Voice, and has done freelance reporting. She has written articles for Latina magazine and reported for the weekly radio show Latino USA.

Stories written by del Barco have appeared in several books including Las Christmas: Favorite Latino Authors Share their Holiday Memories (Vintage Books) and Las Mamis: Favorite Latino Authors Remember their Mothers (Vintage Books). del Barco contributed to an anthology on rap music and hip hop culture in the book, Droppin' Science (Temple University Press).

Peruvian writer Julio Villanueva Chang profiled del Barco's life and career for the book Se Habla Espanol: Voces Latinas en USA (Alfaguara Press).

She mentors young journalists through NPR's "Next Generation", Global Girl, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and on her own, throughout the U.S. and Latin America.

A fourth generation journalist, del Barco was born in Lima, Peru, to a Peruvian father and Mexican-American mother. She grew up in Baldwin, Kansas, and in Oakland, California, and has lived in Manhattan, Madrid, Miami, Lima and Los Angeles. She began her journalism career as a reporter, columnist and editor for the Daily Californian while studying anthropology and rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley. She earned a Master's degree in journalism from Columbia University with her thesis, "Breakdancers: Who are they, and why are they spinning on their heads?"

For those who are curious where her name comes from, "Mandalit" is the name of a woman in a song from Carmina Burana, a musical work from the 13th century put to music in the 20th century by composer Carl Orff.

Comedian Norm Macdonald, a beloved Saturday Night Live cast member in the 1990s, has died. His management company confirmed that the 61-year-old had battled cancer for nine years.

Giuseppe Verdi's opera Il Trovatore tells a story of passion, secrets and revenge. The LA Opera, due to reopen this month with a production of Verdi's work after canceling its 2020-21 season because of the pandemic, has added its own new backstage tale of resilience.

After 17 days of competition at the Tokyo Olympics, the United States finished with the most medals won overall and the most gold medals, with its 39 golds just barely beating out China, which won 38.

On the last day of the Games, the U.S. women's volleyball team secured the 39th gold medal, beating out Brazil to win the country's first gold in the sport.

TOKYO — They were called the "COVID Olympics." The "pandemic Olympics." The "anger Olympics." Many Japanese people were upset to host such a huge and risky event in the middle of the pandemic, and many outside observers were surprised it happened at all.

TOKYO — The ancient martial art of Karate made its debut at the Summer Olympics in Japan this week. The sport was added as a nod to the country where it developed 700 years ago.

There are two types of karate at these Olympics: kata, and kumite.

Kata is performed solo, with an imaginary rival. The hand and leg movements are slow and precise. But Kumite is sparring; kicking and punching at an opponent.

TOKYO — Outside the Tokyo 2020 media press center and Olympic venues, amateur photographers are snapping pictures. Not of the people, but the hundreds of buses shuttling foreign journalists, athletes and officials.

You can spot the bus spotters snapping shots of the vehicles labeled with funny names in English, like "Ina Bus," and "Hiya, Tokyo." Lots of them are labeled with the Japanese word "kanko," meaning sightseeing.

Yuki Sato spends hours on one street corner, taking pictures of all the buses that pass him. Why? I ask.

"Hobby, hobby," he says. It's his hobby.

TOKYO — Young athletes from Japan are dominating in the skateboarding competitions at the Tokyo Olympics. So far, they've won all three gold medals in the skateboarding competitions that debuted during these Games. The latest winner is Sakura Yosozumi, who claimed gold on Wednesday in the park skateboarding final.

The competitors skated around a course built for the Games, doing midair tricks and soaring through the valleys and grinding on and soaring over the lip of the curved concrete walls.

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TOKYO — In the year leading up to the delayed Summer Olympics, public opinion polls in Japan showed people overwhelmingly against holding the Games in the country. Some feared it would spread the coronavirus. Others complained about the high costs. There are still some small occasional protests. But now that Olympics are underway and Team Japan is doing well, people here seem excited.

TOKYO — The U.S. women's basketball team has still got it. The squad defeated Japan 86-69 in preliminary play at the Tokyo Olympics and it is the team's 51st straight win dating back to the 1992 Games in Barcelona.

On Friday, the U.S. tangled with host country Japan at Saitama Super Arena, outside Tokyo. The U.S. pulled away at the end but for a while, it was a bit of a nail biter.

Organizers at the Tokyo Summer Olympics have reported one of the highest daily increases of coronavirus cases since they started keeping records on July 1.

Since Wednesday, 24 people linked to the Games have tested positive — including three athletes. That brings the total of Olympic-related officials to catch the virus to 193 people, including 20 athletes.

Star gymnast Simone Biles cited her mental health concerns for withdrawing from the individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympics. "It's been a long Olympic process, it's been a long year," she told reporters after she stopped competing in the team event. "And I think we're just a little bit too stressed out."

Biles' teammates applauded her decision to take care of her mental well-being. But she's not the only athlete who has talked about the pressures of performing at the Games.

U.S. surfer Carissa Moore is the first woman to ever win a gold medal in her sport at the Olympics.

Surfing made its Olympic debut during three days of competition at Tsurigasaki Beach, in Chiba province, 40 miles from Tokyo. Brazilian Italo Ferreira took gold in the men's event.

Surfing has deep roots, but for the first time, surfers are competing for medals at the Summer Olympics. At Tsurigasaki beach, 40 miles from Tokyo, they're also riding big waves ahead of a tropical storm.

"The incoming tide push over the afternoon does look to provide a lot of fun waves," reports Kurt Korte, the official surf forecaster for the Tokyo Olympics. He works for Surfline, a company based in Huntington Beach, Calif. He says while it might rain at Tsurigasaki beach, it should be a great day for the surfing finals at the Olympics.

TOKYO — In the neighborhood where he grew up skateboarding, 22-year-old Yuto Horigome won the first ever Olympic Gold medal for skateboarding.

In the street skate competition, Horigome expertly flipped his board in the air, sailed over staircases and glided on rails. On the fourth trick of the final he accomplished a most difficult one: a "nollie 270 noseslide." After taking off, he flipped his board, then slid it down the rail on its nose.

Skateboarding is ready for its time to shine at the Tokyo Olympics. Competitors will show off the skills they developed in the streets and skateparks around the world, and the hope is that they attract younger fans to watch the Games.

It's been an interesting ride for the sport that has rebel roots in southern California.

The skatepark on the beach in Venice, Calif., is a mecca for the sport. For decades, the area was known as "Dogtown," with skateboarders coming there to show off their skills, doing acrobatic flips and tricks.

TOKYO — The COVID-delayed Tokyo Summer Olympics officially begins with a parade of athletes (more than 200 of them from Team USA), waving flags and marching inside a mostly-empty stadium. It's not clear yet what else will happen during the opening ceremony which is usually a chance to showcase the host country and inspire pride from countries throughout the world.

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Elizabeth Martinez was a leading social justice activist, a feminist writer and historian. She was 95 when she died this week in San Francisco. NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports.

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Actor Clarence Williams III has died from colon cancer. That's according to his manager. He was 81 years old. NPR's Mandalit del Barco has this remembrance.

(SOUNDBITE OF AL CAIOLA'S "THE MOD SQUAD THEME")

Updated May 26, 2021 at 10:12 AM ET

Editor's note: Amazon is among NPR's financial supporters.

Amazon has made a deal to buy Hollywood studio MGM for almost $8.5 billion. It's the second-largest acquisition for the company after purchasing Whole Foods.

TV host Ellen DeGeneres is pulling the plug on her successful daytime TV variety/comedy/talk show at the end of this season. For more than 18 years, she has famously danced with her guests and the audience, played games and pranks with them and given away prizes. She has interviewed everyone from Hollywood A-listers to precocious children. But now, she and Warner Brothers Television have said The Ellen DeGeneres Show will end in 2022.

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Before Little Richard, there was Lloyd Price, a pioneer of rock 'n' roll.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PERSONALITY")

LLOYD PRICE: (Singing) 'Cause you've got - walk - talk - smile...

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Singers Beyonce and Taylor Swift made history last night at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, which was, of course, socially distanced. Four of the top awards went to women. NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports.

After months of lockdown, on a glorious sunny day, I got to watch the Los Angeles Philharmonic rehearse at the famous, near-empty Hollywood Bowl. A year into the pandemic, live concerts are still a rarity in this country, but the LA Phil has been recording concerts here for its online Sound/Stage series.

There were only about seven others scattered in the audience of the vast amphitheater; in sneakers and jeans, conductor Gustavo Dudamel led the orchestra in a piece by composer John Adams, Grand Pianola Music.

Mexican film directors have enjoyed success at the Academy Awards in recent years. Alfonso Cuarón won an Oscar for directing Gravity in 2014, and for Roma in 2019. Alejandro González Iñárritu won one in 2015 for directing Birdman and the following year for The Revenant. And Guillermo del Toro won his Oscar for directing The Shape of Water in 2018. Now, the "Tres Amigos," as they're known, may welcome uno más: up-and-coming filmmaker Fernando Frías de la Parra.

It's been 50 years since José Feliciano came up with the seasonal earworm "Feliz Navidad." The song is just two phrases of holiday cheer, in Spanish and in English, repeated over and over for three minutes.

When she moved to the U.S. from Argentina in 1967, Elsa Calandrelli gave herself a stage name in Quechua, the indigenous language of the Andes: Suni Paz, which means "lasting peace." That's because, she says, lasting peace is what she wants for the world. The 85-year-old singer and songwriter has dedicated herself to singing for and about indigenous and working-class people, and children of all backgrounds.

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In the category of "Beloved Trivia Game Show Hosts," there is one very clear answer: Who is Alex Trebek? For 36 years, Trebek quizzed Jeopardy! contestants on history, geography, hip-hop lyrics, "Potent Potables" and "Potpourri."

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