Ambitious 80-Episode Scripted Series Based on Life of Salsa Queen Celia Cruz, Now Streaming on Netflix (USA)



The *epic* 80-episode series originally aired from October 5, 2015 to February 5, 2016 in Colombia on RCN Televisión, as well as on US-based Telemundo from October 13, 2015 until February 8, 2016. It is now available for English-speaking audiences, courtesy of Netflix in the USA.

All 80 episodes (each 45 minutes long) of “Celia,” the Spanish-language telenovela produced by Fox Telecolombia, based on the life of Cuban singer Celia Cruz, are now available to stream on Netflix, with English subtitles! That’s roughly 60 hours of binge-watching time; it’s maybe as thorough a way to tell the story of an entire life on screen as there may have ever been. Typically, it’s a 2+ hour feature film/biopic, or a miniseries comprising of less than 10 episodes. “Celia” attempts to cover as much of the Cuban salsa icon and superstar’s life as comprehensively as possible with a series that tells her story over 3600 minutes!

Directed by Victor Mallarino and Liliana Bocanegra, and scripted by Andrés Salgado, “Celia” stars Puerto Rican actress Jeimarie (Jeimy) Osorio (“Maid in Manhattan,” “Fast Five”) as the legendary Cruz in the series.

Puerto Rican actor Modesto Lacén portrays Cruz’s husband, Pedro Knight. Lacén (“Animal”) has portrayed Knight before in an off-Broadway theater production, “The life and music of Celia Cruz,” which ran for 20 months in New York. The actor has also acted in over 20 films in Puerto Rico and in the U.S.

Carolina Gaitán, Judy Henríquez, Aida Bossa, Abel Rodríguez, Jonathan Islas, Agmeth Scaf, Indira Serrano, Margoth Velázquez and Moisés Angulo round out the key cast.

Jeimy Osorio in her role as the young Celia Cruz in 'Celia.'

Jeimy Osorio in her role as the young Celia Cruz in ‘Celia.’

Known as the “Queen of Salsa,” Celia Cruz was born in Havana, Cuba in 1925. Throughout her prolific career, she recorded over 50 albums, won 7 Grammy awards and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Cruz’s celebrated hits include “La negra tiene tumbao” (“The black woman has rhythm”), “Que le den candela” (“Bring the heat”) and “Quimbara,” to name a few.

The lengthy miniseries chronicles Cruz’s evolution from a teenager in pre-revolution Cuba, to a larger-than-life public figure decades later. Along the way, she battled racism, sexism, and defied expectations of what a black woman musician could achieve in the 1950s.

Celia Cruz passed away at the age of 77 in 2003.

Check out a trailer for the series below, and then head over to Netflix and start binge-watching all 80 episodes:


  1. Thank god they have subtitles now. I, strangely enough, asked about whether they would have English subtitles when it was originally airing and unfortunately the folks at Telemundo were just working on it. It made it easy to lose interest but thankfully S&A always comes with the goods.

    • I can actually freshen up on my Spanish. Refreshing cast, actually AWESOME!!!
      Talk about binge watching, yikes. Definitely worth it.

  2. I watched some of this on Telemundo and I enjoyed it. it’s great that they have subtitles now because that opens up a whole new audience to see the life of a true music legend – azucar!

  3. Some great acting, some overacting (Noris, Alberto) and strange when they change actors mid-season but only with half of the cast. Thankful Celia and her friends are not around as the show is about 5% truth and the rest fiction to give a body. Celia was maybe too normal (boring) if they just used the truth? And it would only have lasted about 4 hours instead of 80.

    • Jeff, could you please let me know which parts are true? (Judging by your comment the facts should be easier to list than the fiction.) I still plan to watch the whole series and enjoy it for entertainment purposes. However, as a fan of Celia’s music I’m curious about the facts.

      • Hi Christina,

        Feel free to check out my post, as I wrote a few of the things I know that aren’t true.

    • I just read your comment and it made me smile due to the fact I said the same exact thing as you did. I’m glad it’s not just me that felt this way.

  4. Celia music is legendary, however the story could have been told in less than 80 shows. After awhile it became a typical daytime soap series. less Noris, Gamita and Lola. some very poor fast forward of time sequence. growing up in the Bronx and Spanish Harlem I clearly recall the days of Fania. 3 thumbs up.

  5. I truly loved it , was an amazing love story,couldnt get enough hated for it to end I want more

  6. This was a great short story. I was stuck in front of the TV. Love her, love her love her.

  7. I’m At episode 58 and the subtitles have stopped showing…not sure why.. I’m sad I want to finish watching.. Its so good…I love her

  8. I loved it until they changed the actors. It ruined it or us!!! I HATED the change,but was like watching a different show all together, hated the new Lola, or what ever change it was and especially Mario! Terrible! And agree, the drug out the drug scene to long. I want to know how much is true and embellished.


    • It felt like losing friends when they changed actors in episode 50-something. I loved the actors who portrayed the main characters, and dislike their replacements – Celia, Pedro, Lola, Mario, Alberto…this truly ruined it for, and I may not finish watching. Not kidding. Never seen this before. Saaad. ?

      • Agreed! They ruined the chemistry and after 50+ episodes it feels like a total ripoff.

      • Carol, I too felt as if I could no longer watch my friends when the cast changed. Admittedly, I’d binge on the series until I could no longer stand the exchanges between Marito and Raquel. I stopped watching and not sure if I’ll ben missing anything?

      • Carol, I too felt as if I could no longer watch my friends when the cast changed. Admittedly, I’d binge on the series until I could no longer stand the exchanges between Marito and Raquel. I stopped watching and not sure if I’ll be missing anything? I watched this series on Netflix when Castro died. I felt as if I were watching a continuation of her story!

      • Ruineddd the series for me! The chemistry was gone between the two! Honestly broke my heart lol

    • I AGREE WHOLEHEARTEDLY! The new actors look nothing like the original ones and some aged 20 years while the rest looked as if it was the next day. To add insult to injury, they built up Celia and Pedro’s love affair and the day after they got married they looked 30 years older! We got nothing of their married life together and it took them 10 episodes to kiss each other. The director definitely erred in his decision to do this.

  9. I love Celia Cruz and I love the soundtrack. I have watched 5 or so episodes and at first I was interested, but it’s turned into a schlocky soap opera. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to watch due to the bad writing and acting. Too bad- it could have been so good, considering it’s about a great person and singer. I think I’ll just watch Celia videos and fill in the back story on my own.

  10. I was literally addicted tonthis show and would wake up tired tje next day for work because I’d stay up late binge watching. That all stopped when they changed the actors. The actors we viewers grew to love got changed 50 something episodes in. I am very disappointed and stopped watching.

  11. Adrian, I agree… What was that about. The show had a whole different feel with the majority of the cast changing. Bad move.
    Lost me. 🙁

    • Terrible move when they changed actors. It’s like a different show. I can’t relate to the new cast. What’s the point of continuing to watch?

  12. I’m still trying to hang on watching his after the HUGE Mistake of changing some of the actors, I still want to know why? It’s so cheesy now! What a big let down. They never really said much about what happened to Gamaliel, they just left us to assume. Mario is now a goofy guy, the new Raquel’s acting is like a low budget Novela, both look NOTHING like the young Mario and Raquel, what a big let down after the change. Not happy about it at all

  13. What the actors change?? NOOOOO!!! How disappointing. On Episode 32 and I absolutely love this show. I particularly love all of the many storylines and I absolutely love Pedro and Celia.

  14. Yes, I was disappointed by the changes. The young Pedro and Celia had a great chemistry. It is getting boring now. What happend to Gamita?

    • I couldn’t agree more about Young Pedro and Celia having amazing chemistry. i felt the love lost with the change in characters and it changed the feel of the show and all. Makes me want to rewatch the first 55 episodes just to feel the love again! lol And I’m sorry to say Gamita was lost at sea. They just kind of drop the subject and you’re supposed to assume things sometimes. Like the radio show host who was in Cuban prison and then all of a sudden he’s in Miami with his own show! lol

      • Thanks Brandi I was wondering what happened to Gamita and how the announcer escaped to Miami ! Lol… also does anyone know what ever happened to Alberto… or did I miss something?

        • I agree, they had great chemistry. Thats the same radio guy from Cuba? I missed that. Alberto comes back in episode 65+ something like that.

    • Right!!! I stayed with that question too. I guess he died at seas, and they made a memorial for him as well when his partner killed himself.

  15. I was hooked on this show. It did have a different affect and/or feeling once the characters changed. However, I kept watching as the characters got older in age. Ms. Celia Cruz. “Azugar.”

  16. They messed up BIG time on changing actors! I want a re-make!! It had only been 10 years & they aged them like 40 years & not to even look like the same ppl! Raquel & Mario look NOTHING like the younger & made me want to stop watching! I’m hanging in there cuz I want to finish it, but it’s a major let down! Whoever was in charge of this hot mess, should be FIRED from casting FOREVER!!!!!!!

    • Completely agree!!! They should never work in casting agsin! I was so confused because they look nothing like their “younger” characters! And one doesn’t age and look completely different in 10 years. Mario was the worst!!!!! He didn’t even speak like the OG Mario.

  17. I watched the last episode today. I really enjoyed the it. I was disappointed when the actors changed. I got used to the change and was hooked again on the actors. I did cry at the last episode. They did a good job.

  18. I finished the last episode last night (I tried to drag it out as I binge watched the first 55 episodes in one week). I have to agree that the show had a different feel once they changed the characters, especially Pedro Knight’s character. I felt like he was so in love with Celia but the changed character seemed more distant to her than before. I’ve done a lot of research trying to figure out what was true or not and what characters had a name change for the show (i.e. Lola Calvo = La Lupe). I of course have downloaded all the music from the show via the original artists album. I do wish there was some kind of comparison online that shows fact/fiction regarding the show. I know there was a lot of embellishment to have a plot like that, but I’m still curious as to the facts. A couple I’ve found on my own that you all may want to know….but I don’t want to be a spoiler for people who haven’t watched them all. 🙂 Overall, I loved it and will probably watch the entire thing again now that I have the background knowledge! It’s also helping me brush up on my Spanish. Amazing actors and amazing music! Viva Celia Cruz!

    • Brandi, please share the fact and fiction. I am dying to know if the while Roberto, Gamiel, and Lola/Billy story lines are true

  19. Brandi, which song of La Lupe’ s is it that Lola sings with lyrics “que tiene tus labios que te llevan un beso”

  20. Lola’s character is a non-fictional spin on La Lupe. I dislike how they made it seem that La Lupe and Celia were best friends. They actually didn’t meet until they were in the US, and disliked one another due to their success. They blamed Lola’s drug use on her abusive past, makes me wonder, was La Lupe abused as well?

    I’m Cuban-American, born in the US of Cuban decent. I admire the show for the cultural appreciation it shines on my beloved island. Noris character is well played, as it shows how (some) cuban women speak. I appreciate the authenticity. Pedro’s character as well. I hear that the actor is Puerto Rican, he did one hell of a cuban impression!

    My Great Grandmother and Great Aunt were friends of Celia, before the fame. My Aunt would do her hair. As per my Aunt, she was rude, mean and b*tchy. Nothing like they made her seem in the show. Celia’s Aunt would take her to perform at clubs before the fame as well — nothing like the show. Just little differences that like that bother me. I wish there were more truth in the show.

    Anyone willing to chat about this, feel free to email me. I’m in love with this show.

  21. I am just done with this series after the ridiculous character changes. I thought I was going g crazy, but whoever made these ABSURD character changes is freaking bonkers! What a waste! Celia was too talented to have an autobiography go off corse likel this train wreck. Oh, BTW the new Pedro and Celia make me weep
    This is so bad…SMH

  22. I am so annoyed at the cast change the new Celia and Pedro Suck. There is no chemistry and She has no energy to her she is draining mine just watching her. Has anyone noticed how they screwed up the timelines too? Raquel’s kid went from being about 3-4 years old before the change to being around 7 or so after the change but Lola is still pregnant How does that happen? She been cooking that kid for 4 years and Pedros ex wife suddenly has three teenage daughters instead of 2 . Hate the entire new cast I am starting to think it isn’t worth watching anymore. And I am soo dam tired of Celia’s sister someone shoot her already.

  23. Loved the series. But I agree the change of the cast midway was confusing, did not match and was a true miss. The orginal cast in the first 50 episodes were spot on. A little makeup could have aged the actors to continue the nice flow. This was a bit soap opera like but i enjoyed it alot. I like the history aspect presented about Cuba and the costumes from the different eras. Overall i loved the series and enjoyed listening to Celia’s early music with the Sonora. Loved Caito! The actors playing the young Pedro and Celia were great and they made me believe in their great love affair. Celia’s music will live forever.

  24. I became addicted to the series and loved every minute I to was very disappointed in the character change but continued to watch it anyway
    I could tell most of it was made up and yet I loved the story
    I appreciated the entertainment

  25. The actor changes are horrible! I don’t know if I can continue to watch it, and I was loving the series.

    • I totally agree! like who does that? it ruined the whole thing for me. 🙁

  26. has anyone tried contacting the producers, anyone involved with the show. I like others was confused when they changed characters. It’s as bad as your favorite characters getting killed in Game of Thrones!!

  27. Whyyyyyy????? I loved watching Modesto Lacen as Young Pedro, the way he was in love with Celia felt so real and was one of the best part of the shows. Why would they take him out???? Why???? New characters are awful!!!!!!!!!! Why does Mirelys get to look the same? So much doesn’t make sense. So disappointed!!!!!!

    • Totally agree!I loved the young Celia and young Pedro. They should have kept them! 🙁

  28. At first I was confused about the character switch.. but I’m an actress, so I get the need for it. To show how much time has passed. Let’s be real, Celia did gain weight when she got in her 40’s and Pedro. I honestly didn’t care about anyone else’s story besides those two lol I’ll probably go back and watch the whole thing through without skipping other people’s stories. I hope to find a love like Celia and Pedro, they were married for a long time and were inseparable. It’s so cute! Fact: Lola (La Lupe) knew and admired Celia in Cuba. When she got to Mexico she asked Celia for help. Pero.. tu sabes it was only a matter of time for that friendship to end. Most of the show was false, but there were some factual moments in there as well. This was honestly the best series on telemundo, in my opinion. It was sooo good! I became a big fan of some of the actors. I can watch this show a thousand times and not get tired of it. Great show.

  29. This movie series was excellent i enjoy it so much even that lots of it was not true but i enjoy it so much i laugh cried i stood watching this for like a week and when i find it in dvd i will buy it because i want my mother to watch it so she could enjoy it too thank u for making this movie love all the songs with celia and mrs lola calvo the lifes that ended that made me cry from this movie i love this movie thank u

  30. You could play a drinking game with the first 30 episodes every time Lola’s dad throws and breaks something. They must of had a large budget for vases.

  31. I think I’m at episode 52 and the character change hasn’t happened yet. I love it thus far . And the only Spanish I’ve ever taken was in Jr. High so the subtitles have me in Latino heaven ..(sometimes I believe I understand what they’re saying LOL). Lola character gets me with the way she is always wiping her mouth with those extended nails. But I love each of their signatures when they are singing. Lola always seductively ends with ayeeee and later Celia’s azucar. I think this weekend I’ll be finished watching! Good job… very entertaining!

  32. I fell in love with the whole Celia and cast I love Pedro Knight & The actress who played Celia AWESOME !! I watched it again with my daughter and she watch ib amazement!!! Thank You for bringing it to Netflix in the USA

  33. I loved watching Celia The actress that played her is Amazing❤ and Pedro Knight stole my heart , I watched this again with my daughter and we both was truly Happy that. Netflix made this available to us in the USA dont speak spanish but with the subtitles it was AWESOME ? ? ? ? ? 5 stars

  34. Huge glimpses of brilliance early on (chemistry between young Celia and Pedro, education re: Cuban revolution). Gaping mistakes later (suddenly changing and downgrading quality of actors and…what happened to Gamita??).
    There were constantly too many story lines happening simultaneously…show some mercy to your viewers! But even so, the magic created by Jeimy Osorio and Modesto Lacén made it all worth it. This was my introduction to them. I shall now be a lifelong fan of their work! 🙂

  35. Love the beginning of the series The Chemistry Between actors and the story between Pedro and Celia love story. Did not enjoy the change in the main characters Celia, Pedro, Mario and Raquel while other characters stayed the same.
    I couldnt even reconize them. But i still enjoyed the series

  36. I love Cuba and the Cuban people. My Spanish is fluent and I really
    got into this series–until about the third episode. Then I gave up. Too much
    melodrama and over-acting. Too slowly paced. I got tired of watching endless dancing and singing. I think a three part mini-series on Celia–90 minutes each, would have been preferable. I’m still looking, Celia!

  37. Agree with most about bizzare sloppy production bloopers. Like when gamita stabbed the barbudo and stained his shirt in blood then runs around a corner with Alfredo in the same scene but his shirt is spotless when they run aroundca corner and into the abandoned train. There were several with Pedros hair, some days it was black, then specked with greythen black again within the same night ?..The new Celia and Pedro just are dull and sluggish compared to the original. Raquel looks acts like shes in her first role , shit actress, and Mario , well I just want to slap him! Nothing like the original… I dont think I can take anymore..The original Lola was brilliant ! The new Lola and that friggin stupid wig that looks like its always about to fall off is just so ridiculous.. her acting is shit! Thank goodness they got rid of Billy … that character is too punish I was addicted and absolutely loved the first half of Celia before all the ridiculous cast changes. Shame, It was going so well , I just dont get why ? Why? Whyyyy???? change all the key actors who were great in the first half to such crappy replacements. Im going to stop watching the second half on netflix , its just too painful to watch what could have been an award winning show go down the drain like this?

  38. W O W…..where to begin. Changing actors was a huge mistake! You CANNOT tell me that in the 21st century “movie magic” couldn’t have aged the original cast accordingly via make up, prosthetics, etc. In addition to that, some of the “replacement” actors were simply awful viscerally. Their replacement for “Maríto” for example, looks sleazy. His hair looks like it’s in desperate need of washing, and his face looks like it belongs on a junkie. They could not have made that poor actor look any worse. I’d also have to say the same about the replacement for “Alberto”. This actor exudes nothing remotely similiar to the original actor. From the hair color (which would not have gotten so light if he were kept as a prisoner for so long as he claimed in the movie), to his flabbiness. The man actually had “moobs”. Impossible for any prisoner in any country to gain weight! If anything he should have looked gaunt at the very least. The other inane, nonsensical thing they did was in not appropriately aging those that remained from the beginning. Mirelys and Noris look EXACTLY the same. Moving on here, they also made the older Pedro out to look like “un GRAN tonto”. Being latina, I can tell you here and now that no latin man I know of would have allowed his sister-in-law treat him the way Nori treats Pedro. Nor would any self respecting latin man allow his wife to do so either as is witnessed in many scenes with between Pedro and Celia. In the earlier episodes Pedro is “the man”. He’s kind, patient, protecting…..AND strong. His character is one of determination, and conviction. This older replacement comes off weak…. VERY weak. I also can’t imagine anyone, especially one in the entertainment industry to be as “saintly” as Celia was portrayed to be. She practically came across as Mother Theresa. There should have been more desire on those who created the movie/series for authenticity and truth, instead of this ridiculous fiction.

  39. I almost forgot to mention the character of “Lola Calvo”. I feel they disgraced “La Lupe”. Not to mention the fact that there was no such friendship between her OR the fictitious character and Celia.

  40. Just finished watching. Enjoy it much. At times it became a part of me. Love young Pedro and Celia! The Lola Calvo character was captivating. I am glad I was pre-warn that the actors would change. One good thing about the change was that it slapped me back to reality ! Azucar!!!
    Much love to the memory of Celia Cruz!

  41. I agree that the character changes were awful and noris gets on my nerves, i honestly thought elicier was finally going to kill Lola when he got to america, but im going to stick out the rest of the episodes episodes, im on Episode 56.

  42. The series is ruined when they switch the actors playing main characters, Celia, Pedro, Mario and Lola. The original actors had much better acting skills and chemistry. They were spellbinding to watch. To suddenly switch with people who seem like light weights made no sense. It would have been easy to age them as necessary with make up…..why change the actors? Dumb !

    I’d also like to know how Lola could have been such a big drug user and still managed to get pregnant when she looked about 45 years old ! How did they maintain such a big house and manage their careers while doing such heavy drug use ? And we are supposed to believe Lola topped Celia’s record sales even though Lola was so erratic ? The real life Lupe went down hill as soon as she left Tito Puente !

  43. The switching of actors ruined the series. And the pregnant Lola at that age and doing drugs. Lost all momentum.

  44. Why didn’t they use a more realistic Lola(LA Lupe) she was really negra! And what happened to Gamita???

    • Because she was part of the elite white class cause of her step dad so they couldn’t have casted a black actress. But yea I know stupid.

  45. Who’s the idiot who suggested: “let’s change actors in mid series”. So stupid. Stopped watching after cast change.

  46. I fell in love with Lola’s voice. The actor who played Lola is Carolina Gaitan. Did she sing the songs herself? If so, she is a great singer. Her voice and singing moved me.

  47. The first 50 something episodes were fantastic. Wonderful acting by All the actors especially Noris and Lola! It’s a pitty some of the original actors were changed. I’m sure a little bit of makeup could have aged the characters just fine.
    Will continue to watch until the end but I was very disappointed with the change of characters.

    • It was like seeing home alone 1 then jumping straight to home alone 3, have they’ve heard that makeup can be used to make the existing actors look older, or did they run out. The change was bizarre. What a waste of a good series.

  48. The sub plot of Gamaliel (Gamita) and Rene was a big part of the series but they never said what happened to Gamita and just left us hanging! What’s up with that?!

  49. My name is Cecilia( often called Celia) My ex husband’s Surname is Pedro, so when i saw a new telenovela being advertised that it was starting, i was curious to know what the story line was so i googled it and thought no ways am i reading this on google, better to watch it and i am now on episode 43.#lovingitalltheway#.

  50. What happened!!??! Too much happened at once, Rene hangs himself, Gamita lost at sea and then the main characters get changed!!??! We skipped a few episodes ahead to see if the originals were replaced; but sadly no, they didn’t. Wrong on so many levels. Too bad, can’t “get into it” anymore. We were so invested in the original actors.

  51. Telemundo, if you do a production like this again, please DO NOT Change Characters…spend a little more on make-up but keep the original cast! So disappointed!

  52. Telemundo, why in the world did you change the actors? The transition was terrible, the fact that the supporting actors remained the same was awkward. Were the original actors fired? Was their a change in directors? A series that goes for 80 episodes doesn’t just self inflict a let down after 50 episodes. Disappointing ending to an otherwise enjoyable series.

  53. I’m another dissenter re cast change…I feel we as an audience were betrayed by friends & family to whom we opened our hearts and homes and from whom we were given no explanation. Inexcusable!

  54. I was so disappointed in the cast but I did begin to love the new Celia not too much pedro..
    Gamita I was troubled with!! So was osacrito luis falcon was that a true story Celia dreamed of him? Nori wanted to throw out the window…. aunt ana wanted to see what happened to her and hopefully Celia estate is in the best hands

  55. I just don’t understand how you add fiction to a biography. Too bad none of them are alive to let us know what is real and what is fake.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *