During the TV pilot season, “Cristela” was dubbed “the little show that could,” and after multiple pitch meetings and network negotiations, ABC decided that the show that “could,” would be a part of its fall primetime line-up.
Cristela Alonzo, the sitcom’s co-executive producer, co-creator, writer and star, still can’t believe she will get the opportunity to share her story and her voice on the small screen.
In an interview with Fusion’s Alicia Menendez, Alonzo opened up about the shock of her big break.
“Growing up in poverty, you spend your entire life trying to catch up,” she told Menendez. “You always feel like you want to get to that next level and you think it’ll never happen.”
But it did happen, despite pleas from her mother to not leave home and pursue her dream in acting, Alonzo left San Antonio at 18, determined to succeed in comedy.
“I just kept saying,’I don’t want to make you mad or sad but there’s something in me that’s telling me to go,'” she said. “And for the next ten years or so, my family thought I was wasting my life. They couldn’t understand it.”
Despite their doubt, Alonzo credits her family for the sitcom’s success, and says their hesitation to support her dream were never ill-motivated, but rather a product of experience; their own experience which had taught them to set expectations low.
“When something good happens to us, we always say ‘things like that don’t happen to people like us’ and I don’t mean Latinos, I mean very poor people,” Alonzo explained. “It’s that thing where we don’t expect to ever get ahead.”
Credit: Victoria Moreno, Paola Bolano and Bianca Perez