Cristela Alonzo has taken the game and expanded its viability especially for Latinas. She has proven that dreams are attainable, and she is just getting started. The stand-up is the first Mexican American woman to create, produce, write, and star in US network television show. Alonzo is proactively changing the opportunities for women and latinos while being funny. Alonzo is a game changer.
The comic grew in San Juan, TX and raised by her single mother. She was the youngest of four. The family was very poor and very catholic. From a young age, she identified as a theater nerd. One of her favorite memories is acting out and translating West Side Story to her mother who only spoke Spanish. Translating TV programs for her mother was a common occurrence for Alonzo, and it was one that she enjoyed as the two were very close.
Getting by on scholarships, she attended Webster University. Her college career was initially cut short. She dropped out due to money issues and moved back home to Texas. Around this time, her mother’s health happened to decline. Alonzo ended up having to take care of her as well as her sister’s children. When her mother passed, the comedian fell into a dark depression. She drank a lot which led to DUI. The downfall was a wake up call for her to get back to what she really aspired to be.
In 2002, Alonzo got a job at the Addison Improv. She quickly discovered stand-up as a way to deal with her grief and family. For two years, she travelled with Carlos Mencia as his opener. She found her voice riffing on being Mexican and poor. Much of her jokes are observational humor about her family. She keeps the jokes clean, avoiding crassness and swearing. Through this, she has created a mass appeal while maintaining a specific perspective.
In 2013-2014, Alzono began working on the pilot for her self titled show, Cristela. The concepts of her show were from her real life. She has cited material from Chicana playwright Josefina Lopez and the hit sitcom Roseanne as influences. The series’ timeline begins in Alzono’s life leading up to the death of her mother. The show was cancelled after the first season. Much criticism of the show was that is was filled with stereotypes, but this was the first time a show existed wholly from the perspective a Mexican American woman. Regardless of the criticisms and the cancellation, Alzono made huge strides. She set a standard of what a self produced Latina is capable of doing.
Since the series, the comedian has starred in the animated movie, Angry Birds, and Netflix will be releasing her special in 2017. She also was a speaker at the White House for the 2016 Latinas in the US Summit. The summit focused on improving education, economic development, and social mobility for Latin American women. Cristela Alonzo has a voice which needs to be heard, and it will. She’s a game changer.