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Five Questions About... Cristela

Cristela Alonzo was tired of auditioning to play a housekeeper, so the 35-year-old comedian created a house of her own: ABC’s new semi-autobiographical sitcom ”Cristela” about a legal intern (Alonzo) balancing work and family in Texas; here’s how she did it

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Can you believe you have your own show named after you?
No! My family just started believing it was real when they saw a promo of the show during the World Cup. My family is so happy and so proud because of where we started and where we come from.

Where do you come from?
My parents are from Mexico. They came here on visas in the ’70s. We grew up really poor; for the first eight years of my life we lived in this abandoned diner in South Texas.

A diner?!
That’s where this whole thing started. I was signing with an agency, and they wanted to get to know me better. The moment they heard ”diner” they were so interested. They said, ”My God, you have had such a life. Have you ever thought of doing a TV show?” and I said, ”Um, yeah, maybe.” But in my mind I was like, ”Yes, all day, every day, since I was born!” As a kid I was never allowed to go outside because we lived in a really bad neighborhood, so my mom would keep me inside and I would watch shows like Roseanne and The Cosby Show all day long.

What’s the inspiration for your show?
I tried going to college for a bit and I realized quickly that I couldn’t afford it. Then my mom got sick, so I had to move in with my sister to help take care of her kids and my mom. And that’s where the show takes place, from that time in my life. I took care of my mom until she passed away. My mom’s name was Natalia, which is my mom’s name on the show. This whole thing is kind of an homage to her.

Recently you tweeted, ”Hollywood: I’m tired of cleaning the glass ceiling. I’m ready to break it.”
[Laughs] The only auditions I used to get were housekeepers. Those are great stories, and those stories should be told. But we all have different jobs. It’s 2014. You have a Latina who created, writes, and stars on this show on network TV. Let’s celebrate this.

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