Alonzo at the PaleyFest preview for Cristela
January 6, 1979 |
Hidalgo, Texas, U.S.
|Occupation||Stand-up comedian, actress, writer, producer|
|Home town||San Juan, Texas, U.S.|
Cristela Alonzo (born January 6, 1979) is an American stand-up comedian, actress, writer and producer, who created and starred in the ABC sitcom Cristela. She is the first Hispanic woman to create, produce, write, and star in her own US network show.
Alonzo was born in Hidalgo, Texas, the youngest daughter (of four children) to mother Natalia Gonzalez, who worked double shifts at a Mexican restaurant for about 20 years, and father Adalberto Alonzo. When Alonzo's mother was pregnant with Alonzo, Alonzo's mother left her abusive husband and raised the four children alone. Alonzo said she never met her father, who died in 2009. Alonzo grew up in the U.S. town that happens to be close to the border of Mexico San Juan, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley.
She has three siblings, older sister Julisa Maria Alonzo and older brothers Eloy Eduardo Alonzo and Ruben G Alonzo. Alonzo's mother came from the small village of El Zancarron in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. And throughout her childhood, on her mother's weekly day off, Alonzo spent time with her paternal grandmother in Reynosa, Mexico, just across the border.
For the first eight years of Alonzo’s life, the family squatted in an abandoned diner, were homeless and destitute, even with her mother working double shifts at as a waitress. She often went hungry, and had problems with skin pigment due to a lack of nutrition. Alonzo said her mother often used humor to offset the abject poverty. Alonzo learned English from watching TV as her family spoke only Spanish at home; her mother never learned to speak English. Television was a way for the family to stay inside, avoiding the violence from drug trafficking in their neighborhood. Alonzo would translate American shows into Spanish and act them out for her mother. Alonzo and her mother were inseparable. Alonzo and her mother shared a bed until Alonzo turned 18.
Alonzo was raised in a very strict Catholic household. Because her older sister married young, she spent much of her childhood hanging out with her older brothers and became interested in comic books, trading playing cards, a lot of Star Trek: TNG, Dungeons and Dragons and metal music. She graduated from Pharr-San Juan-Alamo High School.
At age 18, Alonzo left home to attend Webster University to study theater in St. Louis. However, Alonzo dropped out because she could no longer afford school. She went back to Dallas and moved in with her sister, where she took care of her mother who was sick and of her sister's children. Alonzo's mother died in 2002.
In 2003, a year after her mother died, Alonzo got a job as an office manager at the Addison Improv, and started doing stand-up. Alonzo said that she started doing stand-up as a way to process her grief and talk about her mom and her family. She was part of a small Dallas scene. Alonzo eventually moved to Los Angeles to become a stand-up comedian.
Alonzo spent two years traveling on a bus with the Honduran-born American comedian Carlos Mencia and several other comics. Alonzo ended up leaving the tour. Alonzo then spent a lot of time on the road doing college comedy shows, where she found a lot of success.
Alonzo did a 30-minute segment of Comedy Central's The Half Hour on June 7, 2013. She has appeared on Conan, Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Gabriel Iglesias Presents Stand Up Revolution, Showtime, Last Comic Standing, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Live at Gotham.
In 2013, with TV producer Becky Clements, Alonzo created her own semi-autobiographical comedy pilot Cristela for ABC. She wrote the pilot with her writing partner, Kevin Hench. It was not greenlit as a part of the 2013–2014 television season. In an unusual move, they decided to plan to shoot a pilot presentation with the penalty money (a 30% fee they got when the network initially passed). On February 26, 2014, they shot a pilot presentation, filmed on the stage of Last Man Standing with much of that show's crew to save money; it got a strong testing response from the audience.
On May 10, 2014, ABC picked up the pilot to series for the 2014–15 television season. After an initial order of 13 episodes, 9 additional episodes were ordered, bringing the total count of episodes for season 1 to 22. Cristela is a multi-camera show, shot in front of a live audience. The series concluded on May 7, 2015 and has since been cancelled.
Alonzo has a trademark, raucous laugh: “If I’m laughing, you know I’m either very happy or very sad,” she said. “I cope with things with jokes." She is an observational comic who reflects on stories in her own life. Inspired by Bill Cosby and Roseanne Barr and her favorite childhood shows (The Cosby Show and Roseanne),
- 2015: General Hospital actress - 1 episode
- 2014-2015: Cristela, creator, executive producer, writer, actor
- 2012: Ladies Room Diaries, producer, writer - 3 episodes: "Rubik's Cubicle," "Okey Dokey Karaoke," "Hide n' Cake"; also actor
- 2012: Hey It's Fluffy!, actor - 4 episodes
- 2012: The Book Club, actor - 2 episodes: "The Warrior Reads On," "All Valley"
- 2011: Sons of Anarchy, actor - 1 episode: "Fruit for the Crows"
- 2009: Turtles Forever, Holly Day Inn, Annie Buddyhome, Susan Williams (voices)
- 2006: Mind of Mencia, writer - 15 episodes
- 2013: Hot Pursuit, actor
- 2011: The North Council, writer
- 2009: TGIF: The Musical, writer, story
- 2008: Life After, writer
- 2008: Recycled, writer
- 2007: Carpet Diem, writer
- 2007: Cookie de Mayo, writer
- 2017: Netflix Original Cristela: Lower Classy.
- 2014: Just for Laughs: All-Access, episode: "Jimmy Carr"
- 2014: Conan, episode: "Episode #4.80"
- 2012: Conan, episode: "Dracula Meets the Mummy, & the Two Hit It Off Swimmingly"
- 2014: @midnight, episode: "Episode #2.5"
- 2013: The Half Hour
- 2011: Gabriel Iglesias Presents Stand-Up Revolution, episode: "Cristela Alonzo/Larry Omaha/Maz Jobrani"
- 2011: Legally Brown
- 2010: Ladies Night Out
- 2010: Last Comic Standing, episodes: "Episode #7.7,"Episode #7.1"
- 2009: Stand-Up 360: Muy Caliente Edition 2
- 2007: Live at Gotham, episode: "Episode #2.7"
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- Andreeva, Nellie (7 May 2014). "Cristela Alonzo & Jerrod Carmichael Pilots: What They Say About TV Biz". Deadline.com. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
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- "The little show that could, 'Cristela,' gets picked up for full season". Fox News Latino. 25 November 2014. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
- Ausiello, Michael (24 November 2014). "Cristela Snags Full-Season Pickup". TV Line. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
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- Andreeva, Nellie. "'Forever' & 'Cristela' Cancelled By ABC - Deadline". Deadline.
- Terrero, Nina (10 October 2014). "'Cristela' creator talks sitcom inspiration, 'Golden Girls'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
- Alonzo, Cristela; Ogilvie, Jessica (30 September 2014). "Best of L.A.: Cristela Alonzo's Last Day in L.A.: Corn on the Cob, Chorizo and Doughnuts". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
- Alonzo, Cristela (1 September 2014). "San Antonio. Labor Day. Cristela." (Blog). Cristela Alonzo. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
- "Watch Cristela Alonzo: Lower Classy Online". Netflix. 2017-01-24. Retrieved 2017-01-31.