South LA native Cynthia Fuentes becomes director of Ford Theatre after pursuing lifelong passion for music

HOLLYWOOD (KABC) — As we continue to celebrate Hispanic & Latin American Heritage Month, we are shining a spotlight on someone in charge of an iconic Hollywood venue. Cynthia Fuentes is the director of The Ford Theatre. Based on her early interests growing up in South L.A., she just seemed headed, somehow, for a career in music.

“I would save money and I would go to The Wiltern. I went to The Forum a lot to see shows there. And would come to The Roxy,” said Fuentes. “As a teenager, my mom would actually drive me. She was super supportive of all my music-loving adventures.”

That love would lead Fuentes to working with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In late 2019, when the Phil took on stewardship of The Ford, Fuentes became its director. Among the varied performers who’ve taken the stage this season: Neil Young, Darren Criss, and Silvana Estrada. The venue has also hosted such talent as the all-female mariachi ensemble Las Colibri, and Downey’s own Grammy nominee Lupita Infante.

One of Cynthia’s goals continues to be making this 1,100-seat venue a more inclusive place for Angelenos.

“For me, it’s important that we’re including artists that do all kinds of work, right? Whether it’s experimental or mariachi or we’re doing theatre, spoken word, hip hop, and dance. I mean, I think that artists come in all shapes and sizes doing all kind of genres,” said Fuentes. “And I think, when I think really about programming that we to do here every summer, it really is about insuring that we’re including pieces of everything that makes Los Angeles so special.”

Fuentes and her staff work together… and with community groups… to bring an eclectic mix of talent to the Ford stage. As the daughter of immigrants, introducing her world to young family members has been very meaningful.

“I’ve made them proud and, like you said, like, created a pathway for my nieces and nephews to see the opportunities that exist in the arts and other industries,” said Fuentes.

She says her job with The Ford is the honor of her life. Who knew that when she and her friends were reading the liner notes from their favorite CDs, it would lead to something so big?

“I remember us finding the name Susan Silver. And all the bands that we loved would say, ‘Thank you to Susan Silver.’ And we’re like, ‘Who is Susan Silver?’ And so we actually looked it up. So she used to manage bands like Soundgarden.”

“And so I was, like, whatever Susan is doing, that’s what I want to do!” said Fuentes.

I reached out to Silver today to tell her what Fuentes said. Silver responded, “I love knowing I had even a small influence on Cynthia’s pursuit of a career in the music business. Combining a love of music with an opportunity to be involved with the business aspect was a perfect combination for me and it sounds like it is for Cynthia, too.”

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