In my interview with Cristela Alonzo, one of my favorite comedians who happens to be Latina, we talked about her honest Twitter feed; her chingona friendships; what it’s like to be ther first and only in anything; and when and why she wrote her new book. Do I really need to add a disclaimer that I’m a fan and super proud of this fellow Tejana? Well, I am. Support Latinas in Hollywood, Queridos!
Social media is the absolute best when the people you admire use it to keep things real. And Cristela Alonzo does just that. She admits that the older she gets, the less she cares about anything. Her honesty on Twitter and Instagram is reason enough for anyone to follow her.
She recently tweeted about supporting her amiga and super journalist Alicia Menendez who just became the weekend anchor of Morning Joe on MSNBC. Cristela also tweeted about her event with another power Latina journalist (and one of my personal sheroes) Maria Hinojosa. So, I had to ask what is it like to have these amazing chingona friendships in her life.
“When you get to a certain circle and you realize that there’s not a lot of us, we seek each other out. We have so much in common that we can’t help but become friends. We deal with a lot of the same stuff. I met Alicia and Maria promoting my show. Talking to them was a short cut. I didn’t have to explain myself too much. They understood a lot of the stuff I was talking about. A lot of times we talk to people who aren’t familiar and we waste a lot time explaining how things work (in Latino culture).” – Cristela Alonzo
Cristela adds that her friendships are the real deal with these two. They all understand that each other’s support means a lot and she adds,
“If I have the chance to work with a woman of color, why not bring her to the table so we can both have a discussion. That’s how we all move forward.”
Side note: I also asked if I could come to brunch with them. Waiting for the calendar invite.
Being the First and Only
When you are the first and only person who looks like you to do much of anything, it can feel like you are constantly having to prove yourself and your own story. That is a big part of Cristela’s story.
Cristela is the first Latina to create, write and star in a network sitcom ‘Cristela’. She is also the first Latina to have a leading role in a Pixar movie ‘Cars 3’.
Close to the middle of making her show ‘Cristela’, Cristela instinctively knew that the show wasn’t going to go on beyond one season. Thankfully, she had her friend Steve near her to confide in. Because she could be honest with him, she was able to admit what the show would be.
“This show is gonna be the show that sets up the next show to be successful because people will learn from what this show has done. Both good and bad. I’ve accepted that this show will be one of the door openers so that the next show can succeed.” – Cristela Alonzo
Cristela admits that it still hurts her feelings to that out loud. Through the experience of creating, writing and starring in her own show, Cristela is opening up about many things that she learned about the industry. By telling her story, Cristela is hopeful that others will learn from it.
When and Why Cristela Wrote Her Book
Cristela knew she would write her story in a book the year her show was cancelled. Acknowledging that there were writers on that show who Cristela did not get along with, she doesn’t name names. She says, “The experience lives within me but I refuse to give them real estate in my life.”
Cristela shared that once the show started production, the co-creator began to work more with another writer instead of Cristela.
“I became the third most important person to tell my life story.” – Cristela Alonzo
That was part of the challenge of working on her own show. She was seen as difficult for questioning the writing of the show. When asked what the show was supposed to look like, Cristela encourages people to watch the Christmas episode because that was the one she wrote.
Another challenge were the stereotypical stories the industry wanted to tell like poor people being sad. Cristela wanted the show to reveal that while her family was poor, they were very happy.
“How could I tell them that her (Cristela’s mom) living in the United States in poverty was better than her life back home?” – Cristela Alonzo
The heart and humanity of her life story is what the book is about. Much of what is in the book was what Cristela wanted others to see in her show. She calls it a mix tape memoir because the book is like a playlist. It’s all her favorite songs. She used music to let people know her story isn’t agenda porn – all the immigrant narrative about deportation, ICE, etc. In the book, Cristela reveals how much she actually has in common with others despite looking different than them.
“Read this book and read the real me. This is the show you should’ve had.” – Cristela Alonzo
What would have Cristela’s mom thought of the book?
She tells me that her mom loved others through insults. That was her mom’s style. Many Latino families can relate. Cristela says her mom’s first reaction would be to ask Cristela, “Who let you write a book?”
Cristela Alonzo is currently on tour. Find all the show listing on her website cristelaalonzo.com
Purchase Cristela’s book on Walmart.com
(I get poquito dinero if you use this link).