by | Sep 14, 2012 | Past Celebrity Honorees


Francia Raisa photo by “The Hendershotts”


As a Gracie Award recipient, 2012 Teen Choice, IMAGEN and an ALMA award nominee for her portrayal of ‘Adrian Lee’ on ABC Family’s critically acclaimed series “The Secret Life of an American Teenager,” Francia Raisa continues to prove herself as a star on the rise. Francia was featured on the August cover of Backstage magazine as one of Young Hollywood’s top Latinos in American TV and Film, further proving she is the one to watch.

Francia was born and raised in Southern California to mother Virginia Almendarez of Mexico and father Maximo Renan Almendarez Coello of Honduras, (one of the most recognized radio personalities and #1 Latino DJs in Los Angeles). At the age of five, Francia began taking dance lessons to learn all styles from tap to jazz, acrobatics, hip- hop and Polynesian. In addition to dance, she trained in karate and ice-skating. Looking to expand her talents her junior year of high school, Francia decided to study both acting and modeling. She started to get noticed, and soon began to model for print ads and national commercials. A month into her senior year of high school, Francia booked her first lead role, starring opposite Hayden Panettiere in “Bring it On: All or Nothing.”

Not long after wrapping “Bring it On,” Francia booked the lead female role of MGM’s TV movie for ABC Family “The Cutting Edge 3: Chasing the Dream,” before ultimately landing her breakout role as ‘Adrian Lee,’ a series regular ABC Family’s award-winning “The Secret Life of the American Teenager.” Created by Brenda Hampton (‘7th Heaven’), the program broke all records for an original series on the network, including taking the #1 spot in its time slot for cable TV when it premiered in summer of 2008. The show is currently on its fifth season, and continues to be one of the most popular teen TV shows.

In addition to her success on television, Francia will soon make her return to the big screen. She recently finished production on “Chastity Bites,” a horror film set to release later this year. Additionally, Francia has been cast as the lead in the highly anticipated indie film, “Birds of Paradise” alongside Ryan Guzman.

Francia currently resides in Los Angeles and continues to stay true to her dancing roots with weekly advanced classes at a dance studio in Hollywood. Francia strives to be a role model for all her female fans. On her spare time, she works to raise awareness on important causes such as hunger, domestic violence, sex trafficking and female empowerment.