Ilia Calderón: from a Colombian small town to the U.S. biggest news program in Spanish

The story of Ilia Calderón | Her crusade against racism | Being a black woman in the news

Spanish-speaking people in the United States know who Ilia Calderón is. She has hosted numerous hit news programs in the leading Latin network Univisión. Read on to learn more about her journey from a small Colombian town to every Latino home in the U.S.

The story of Ilia Calderón

Ilia Calderón was born on May 15th, 1972 in Istmina, Chocó. Despite her underprivileged social conditions, she had a joyful childhood with her mother and two sisters. Being a good student, her mother sent her to the city of Medellín to enroll in middle school. Even then, she knew Ilia’s aspirations were bigger than her small hometown (Univisión Noticias, 2017).

However, her departure introduced her to the hardships of racism. Calderónsays she knew nothing of it during the first ten years of her life, when she was living in Istmina –a place she calls her “black paradise” (Univisión Noticias, 2020).

Upon leaving, she began to experience discrimination. Nevertheless, she went on to obtain a degree in social work (Redacción Carrusel, 2020). It was during this time that she auditioned to anchor a local news broadcast. After three years of good work, she moved to Bogotá and became the first black woman to anchor a national news program (Univisión Noticias, 2017).

Her performance led to opportunities in the United States, where she worked at Univisión (Univisión Noticias, 2017). In time, she became the first Afro Latina to host a national news program (Univisión Noticias, 2020).

Her crusade against racism

Calderón has experienced what many other Colombian girls and women of color do: racism. However, she kept her struggles under wraps in an attempt to minimize them so they would not stifle her career (EFE, 2020).

This changed when her daughter Anna, who is of Afro Latin and Korean descent, began to live it herself. So Calderóndecided to stay silent no more. She embarked on writing a memoir to uncover a lifetime of microaggressions and discrimination in Colombia and the U.S. (EFE, 2020).

Being a black woman in the news

Growing up, Ilia Calderón never wanted to be a journalist. She says she never saw someone like her on the news, so she had no aspirations to get there. That is why she believes representation does matter (Redacción Carrusel, 2020).

Calderón knows structural racism is hard to dismount. She says, “it did not have to be more difficult for me than for another woman to get where I got. They should not have turned me away from two different casting calls because of the color of my skin and the idea that I did not represent what audiences wanted to see” (Redacción Carrusel, 2020).

Finally, she mentions that people cannot identify their racist behaviors easily. Therefore, this makes it difficult for us to combat racism in everyday life. (Univisión Noticias, 2020). As seen, Ilia Calderón has made her way toward becoming one of the most influential Latinas in the U.S. today.


EFE. (2020). Afrolatina Ilia Calderón. Impacto.

Redacción Carrusel. (2020). Ilia Calderón: ‘A mí me negaron dos castings por el color de mi piel’. El Tiempo.

Univisión Noticias. (2017). De Itsmina hacia el mundo: Un viaje a los orígenes de Ilia Calderon.

Univisión Noticias. (2020). “Es mi turno”: Ilia Calderón habla de su lucha contra el racismo.