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,, and

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.


9:23 am
Sat September 26, 2015

Miami Area Muralists Rouse A New Reputation For An Industrial City

The graffiti artist, Trek6, painted the Yoruba goddess of the ocean, Yemaya, to honor his Caribbean roots. She symbolizes growth, something that he thinks Hialeah needs.
Mandalit del Barco NPR

Originally published on Mon September 28, 2015 10:34 am

Miami already enjoys a vibrant street art scene, but now a new arts district is emerging. The industrial city of Hialeah is becoming an affordable alternative for local artists, who are changing the area's reputation.

Colorful street art brightens the otherwise drab warehouses, where Cuban and Haitian immigrants labor inside binding books, making furniture and sewing clothes. The murals depict flamingoes, a fruit vendor, a girl celebrating her quinceañera.

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6:36 am
Fri September 25, 2015

Move Over, Dora: 'Nina's World' Brings Another Bilingual Girl To TV

Originally published on Fri September 25, 2015 2:16 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



Let's shift gears now and hear about a bilingual Latina coming to TV.


ISABELLA FARRIER: (As Nina) I'm 6 now, Lucy. That's a hand plus a finger.

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Fine Art
5:12 am
Fri September 18, 2015

The Broad Museum Is A Contemporary Art Collector's Gift To Los Angeles

The Broad Museum, on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles, opens Sunday. Admission is free.
Iwan Baan Courtesy of The Broad/Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Originally published on Mon September 21, 2015 10:36 pm

Los Angeles is getting a new contemporary art museum, courtesy of billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad and his wife Edythe. Their free museum opens Sunday.

Surrounded by the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Music Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art, The Broad is already an architectural landmark, with its honeycomb-like exoskeleton.

"This shell of sorts, this light filter, this amazing sculptural structure ... enrobes the museum," says Joanne Heyler, the museum's director and chief curator.

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5:12 am
Wed September 16, 2015

How Former Gang Member Richard Cabral Went From Prison To Prime Time

Cabral plays Hector Tontz, a former gangbanger implicated in a drug-related murder, in ABC's American Crime. It wasn't long ago that Cabral himself was facing a possible 35-year sentence for violent assault.
Van Redin ABC

Originally published on Thu September 17, 2015 1:52 pm

Richard Cabral's neck, chest and arms are covered with tattoos. They depict Mexican gang culture, his friends, uncles, even his daughter Bella. Cabral's intense look and his powerful acting have landed him a lot of TV roles, but his path to Hollywood wasn't easy. Not long ago, Cabral was a gang member in prison, facing a possible 35-year sentence; this Sunday, he's up for an Emmy.

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5:13 am
Thu August 20, 2015

'SNL' Alumni Mine Humor From Serious Cinema In 'Documentary Now!'

Fred Armisen and Bill Hader send up the classic documentary Grey Gardens in the first episode of their new TV series, Documentary Now!
Tyler Golden IFC

Originally published on Wed August 26, 2015 6:44 pm

Former Saturday Night Live cast members Seth Meyers, Fred Armisen and Bill Hader are making TV together again. Tonight their new show, Documentary Now!, which features fake documentaries satirizing some of the most famous nonfiction films, premiers on IFC.

To sell the faux-class and seriousness of what's about to unfold, it's presented as a golden anniversary show of the best documentary films hosted by none other than Oscar-winner Helen Mirren.

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Music News
5:10 am
Fri August 14, 2015

Biopic 'Straight Outta Compton' Tells The Epic Story Of Hip-Hop And N.W.A

The five young stars of Straight Outta Compton. Left to right: Aldis Hodge (MC Ren), Neil Brown, Jr. (DJ Yella), Jason Mitchell (Eazy-E), O'Shea Jackson, Jr. (Ice Cube), Corey Hawkins (Dr. Dre).
Universal Studios

Originally published on Fri August 14, 2015 2:36 pm

In the late 1980s, Los Angeles hip-hop group N.W.A created a sensation and controversy with their music, which was labeled gangsta rap. Like the group's story, the making of their much-anticipated biopic, Straight Outta Compton, is filled with drama.

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Middle East
9:35 am
Sun July 19, 2015

Turkish TV Travels Far As Craze For Dramas Goes Global

The Turkish television industry is booming.

During Ramadan, which ended this week, many Muslims — around the world — tuned in to watch Turkish TV in massive numbers.

But Turkey isn't just presenting religious programming. The country is second only to the U.S. in producing and exporting secular TV dramas — and they're becoming global hits

A 'Captive Audience' During Ramadan

Many families watch as they gather as they wait to break their Ramadan fast after sundown, says Pinar Tremblay, a columnist for the online newspaper

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8:06 am
Sat June 13, 2015

The Violence Subsides, And Revelers Return To Juarez

Concertgoers take photos of the band Intocable at a concert in Juarez, Mexico last year.
Kainaz Amaria NPR

Originally published on Mon June 15, 2015 11:46 am

In downtown Juarez, Mexico, just across the border from El Paso, Texas, Nelson Armeto and his brothers run a seafood restaurant called Pisces. Like other businesses owners in Juarez, they met with trouble beginning in 2008, when the drug cartels began demanding a monthly extortion fee.

"We received calls telling us we had to pay a quota, otherwise we'd get the business burned down, or a car passing by would be shooting up the place," he says. "They even threatened kidnapping us and even sometimes killing the employees."

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Arts & Life
5:22 pm
Mon May 18, 2015

LA County Museum Of Art Presents Last Sculpture By Chris Burden

Originally published on Mon May 18, 2015 9:26 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



Performance artist and sculptor Chris Burden died last week of cancer. He was 69. Today, his final completed work opens to the public at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, or LACMA. NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports.

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Movie Interviews
4:49 am
Fri May 15, 2015

The Women Pull No Punches In Fiery, Feminist 'Mad Max'

Charlize Theron as Furiosa, alongside Tom Hardy's Max Rockatansky in the new Mad Max: Fury Road.
Jasin Boland Warner Bros.

Originally published on Fri May 15, 2015 1:06 pm

This weekend, moviegoers will return to a legendary fictional landscape, ravaged by war and desperate for water. Mad Max: Fury Road reunites the Road Warrior with original writer and director George Miller. And this time, Max is joined by some very powerful women.

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6:15 am
Mon May 11, 2015

Sculptor Chris Burden Dies At 69

Originally published on Mon May 11, 2015 10:45 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



Now we remember an artist who never felt he needed to think like everyone else. Chris Burden has died of cancer at the age of 69. NPR's Mandalit del Barco has more.

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Movie Interviews
5:06 am
Mon April 27, 2015

Too Scared To Talk To Police, Stalker's Victims Open Up In 'Grim Sleeper'

A woman walks past a memorial for some of the victims who are said to have died at the hands of the serial killer dubbed the "Grim Sleeper."
Mark Ralston AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon April 27, 2015 2:05 pm

On Monday, HBO will air Tales of the Grim Sleeper, a documentary about a series of serial killings in South Central Los Angeles that took place from 1985 to 2002. A suspect was arrested in 2010. All these years later, the man accused of the crimes remains in jail and has yet to go on trial. But he — and the L.A. police department — are indicted in this film.

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The Record
4:26 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

Percy Sledge Had A Voice The Whole World Heard

Percy Sledge performs in Montgomery, Ala., in 2010.
Rick Diamond Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 7:45 pm

Soul singer Percy Sledge epitomized Southern soul in ballads like "When A Man Loves A Woman," which became a massive international hit when it came out in 1966. Sledge died Tuesday morning of natural causes in East Baton Rouge, La. He was 74.

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4:54 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

From Stadiums To Shelters: Remembering Pritzker Winner Frei Otto

Originally published on Wed March 11, 2015 10:40 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit

6:55 pm
Sat March 7, 2015

Movie Chains Balk At Netflix's Plan For Simultaneous Release

Idris Elba stars as an African warlord in the forthcoming film Beasts of No Nation. Netflix recently purchased distribution rights for the film for nearly $12 million.
Jac Cheairs Red Crown Productions/Participant Media/Netflix

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 12:58 pm

Beasts of No Nation is the story of a West African child who is forced to join a unit of mercenary fighters. Actor Idris Elba portrays a brutal warlord who recruits the child soldier.

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10:00 am
Mon February 23, 2015

Oscars Get Political, As Acceptance Speeches Wade Into Social Issues

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 3:02 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit

Movie Interviews
8:17 am
Sat February 21, 2015

Meet John Sloss, The Man Behind Some Of Your Favorite Indie Films

Sloss, pictured here at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival, has been a key figure associated with independent films including The Fog of War, Little Miss Sunshine and Banksy's Exit Through The Gift Shop.
Jemal Countess Getty Images

Originally published on Sat February 21, 2015 6:19 pm

It's not easy to get financing for independent films. And it's not easy to get them into movie theaters. But over the past few decades, John Sloss has succeeded in doing both, and has been a key player for indie filmmakers. He's an entertainment lawyer, a talent manager, a film sales agent and a producer of films including Boys Don't Cry, The Fog of War and Boyhood, which is up for a best picture Oscar on Sunday.

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Code Switch
7:03 pm
Mon February 2, 2015

Sundance Festival Opens Doors For Minority Filmmakers

This year's Sundance Film Festival generated buzz for Dope, an indie film with an African-American director, Latino and Asian-American producers and starring a multicultural cast.
David Moir Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 3:18 pm

The Sundance Film Festival wrapped up last weekend. For more than two decades, the festival and the Sundance Institute have been a springboard for independent filmmakers. This year, two of its darlings — Boyhood and Whiplash — are nominated for an Academy Award in the best picture category.

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4:40 pm
Fri January 30, 2015

'Suge' Knight Charged With Murder After Fatal Hit-And-Run

Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 6:29 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



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4:10 pm
Mon January 26, 2015

New Technology Immerses Audiences At Sundance Film Festival

Originally published on Tue January 27, 2015 12:14 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



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6:17 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Remembering 'Generation Mex' Writer And Proud Outsider Michele Serros

Serros, pictured here in February 2014, got her big break as a college student in 1993.
Rachel Buchan AP

When Michele Serros burst onto the literary scene in the 1990s, she was a new kind of Latina writer: She didn't speak much Spanish, she listened to ABBA and she was a vegan who liked to surf and skateboard. Her success as a writer, poet and comedic commentator made her an inspirational voice for Chicanas of her generation and beyond.

Serros, who Newsweek once hailed as a "Woman to Watch for the New Century," died of cancer Sunday at her home in Berkeley, Calif. She was 48 years old.

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Movie Interviews
3:27 am
Tue December 23, 2014

Satirizing Dictators Is Nothing New — Just Ask Charlie Chaplin

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 7:31 pm

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6:26 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Sony Cancels Theatrical Release Of 'The Interview'

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 9:07 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit

Book News & Features
5:02 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Marvel At 75: Still Slinging Webs And Guarding Galaxies

Stan Lee — shown here in 2002 — helped create Marvel mainstays like Spider-Man and the Avengers.
Reed Saxon AP

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 2:30 pm

Marvel Comics has provided some of Hollywood's biggest box-office characters ever: The Avengers, the X-Men, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man, Spider-Man, all starring in gargantuan special effects blockbusters.

And like every superhero, Marvel Comics has an origin story. It begins in New York City, in 1939.

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Color Decoded: Stories That Span The Spectrum
3:45 am
Thu November 13, 2014

How Kodak's Shirley Cards Set Photography's Skin-Tone Standard

For decades, Kodak's Shirley cards, like this one, featured only white models.

Originally published on Thu November 13, 2014 9:45 am

Jersson Garcia works at Richard Photo Lab in Hollywood. He's 31 years old, and he's got a total crush on Shirley.

"Beautiful skin tones, beautiful eyes, great hair," he sighs. "She's gorgeous."

Garcia is holding a 4-by-6-inch photo of an ivory-faced brunette wearing a lacy, white, off-the-shoulders top. She has red lipstick and silver earrings, and the photo appears to have been taken sometime in the 1970s or '80s.

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Color Decoded: Stories That Span The Spectrum
5:41 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Sacred, Sad And Salacious: With Many Meanings, What Is True Blue?

Phil Stanton (from left), Chris Wink and Matt Goldman are the founders of the theatrical performance troupe Blue Man Group.
Jemal Countess Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 12, 2014 9:49 pm

The color blue has meant a lot of things to a lot of different people. In medieval times, the Virgin Mary's cloak was often painted a celestial, pure, sacred blue. In the early 1900s, Pablo Picasso created somber blue paintings during a period of depression. The color has been championed by everyone from jazz musician Miles Davis and singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell to the theatrical Blue Man Group.

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Code Switch
7:43 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Ruby Dee: An Actress Who Marched On Washington And Onto The Screen

Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee at the 1989 Cannes Festival for the showing of Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing.
Courtesy of David Lee/All Rights Reserved

Originally published on Fri June 13, 2014 8:58 am

Born Ruby Ann Wallace in the early 1920s in Cleveland, actress and civil rights activist Ruby Dee most identified with the part of New York City where she was raised.

"I don't know who I would be if I weren't this child from Harlem, this woman from Harlem. It's in me so deep," Dee told NPR's Tell Me More in 2007.

She died Wednesday of natural causes at her home in New Rochelle, N.Y., surrounded by her children and grandchildren. She was 91.

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Book News & Features
5:25 am
Thu May 29, 2014

Authors Angered Over Amazon's Dispute With Publisher Hachette

Originally published on Mon June 2, 2014 9:37 am



We've reached a moment that probably shouldn't surprise us when it comes to the modern publishing industry. A lot of people are addicted to buying books online using Amazon. But Amazon is now in a pricing dispute with the publisher Hachette. The online giant is refusing to accept orders for upcoming books from Hachette, which has a heavy-hitting roster of authors. NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO: Some authors are furious at Amazon.

NINA LADEN: They don't really care. It's all about money.

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Deceptive Cadence
5:35 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

How Do You Get Latino Kids Into Classical Music? Bring The Parents

The 85 musicians in the Santa Cecilia Orchestra are paid professionals who play with other symphonies and in Hollywood studios.
Courtesy of the Santa Cecilia Orchestra

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 9:53 am

Outside the concert hall at Occidental College, in Los Angeles' Eagle Rock neighborhood, children are invited to test out the instruments the Santa Cecilia Orchestra will play later. Alexa Media Rodriguez, 8, says she and her family have never before been to an orchestra concert. She heard about the orchestra when some of the musicians visited her school.

"I brought my dad, my stepmom," she says, "my sister, my brother and my sister's cousin ..."

That's the thing about this orchestra, says conductor Sonia Marie De Leon De Vega: The children are bringing the parents.

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5:30 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Who Gave Voice To Latin America, Dies

Admirers ask Gabriel Garcia Marquez --€” seated alongside his wife, Mercedes Barcha €-- to sign books in Santa Marta, Colombia, in 2007.
Alejandra Vega AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 8:06 pm

Latin American author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1982, died Thursday. He was 87. Garcia Marquez, the master of a style known as magic realism, was and remains Latin America's best-known writer.

His novels were filled with miraculous and enchanting events and characters; love and madness; wars, politics, dreams and death. And everything he had written, Garcia Marquez once said, he knew or heard before he was 8 years old.

A Writer Shaped By His Beginnings

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