“No topic is off-limits as the women bring their own opinions, life experiences, and headline generating topics to the iconic table…“
Moves (M): So let’s talk. It’s such an amazing phenomenon you’ve actually created. It would be lovely to hear the grassroots of how this happened.
Gloria Estefan (GE): Okay, well two years ago, I got approached by Ellen Rakieten, who I had worked with in the Oprah years. She’s like a pedigree, an amazing pedigree in that work, and Westbrook Entertainment, which is Jada and Will Smith’s company. I met with them in LA because I was wondering what they would possibly want. They came to me and said they wanted to expand the Red Table Talk family and we want you, your daughter, and your niece, Lili, to be the next family. And instantly, I went like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is a no-brainer.’ I was thrilled because I thought I’d get to spend more time with them if they say yes. So, I called them up. Lili had not yet seen Jada’s show and right away, she goes, ‘Yes tia, whatever.’ And then when she saw it, I think she went, ‘Uh oh. What’d I get myself into here?!’
Lili Estefan (LE): I’m like, ‘What?! I said yes?’ And then it was actually fun, because I thought about it and I’m like, I don’t know, this may be something totally different from what I’ve done for years at Univision and I think it’s something that can really help other people because when I started watching the show, it was incredible!
GE: Lili came from Cuba with her dad and her younger brother. She lived with Emilio and me for a year and a half. In our house. With her grandparents, Emilio’s parents, and my newborn son, they lived a couple blocks away when we were finally able to get a house for her grandmother and then she moved in with them. We’ve gone on every vacation. So I knew that Lili had so much to offer.
LE: Yes, this was a totally different platform. It’s incredible the difference between how you feel and how you can manage feelings and your own experiences. Very different.
M: And I think both of you are touching on some really, really interesting concepts and conversations. Emily brings something to the table that changes the dynamic of the conversation. So Emily, can I throw this question at you. You have two powerful sources in all that they bring to the table to somebody like you, who is a musician, who is touching the LGBTQ community, who is liberating her ancestry, the roots of where you came from. You are in a traditional cultural environment and you are this firework that is going off in the middle of all this tradition. Can you tell me your perspective.
Emily Estefan (EE): I think that’s a great question. I think it’s actually quite interesting because obviously our conversations get edited down and a lot of times there are opinions that I end up on the more conservative side of and my mom and Lili will push the envelope a little bit and other times, you know, I am not the most… reserved in my delivery. I’m a passionate person. I think there’s something that traditionally in our culture; you don’t’ talk back to your mother, and within that there’s a validity and a respect… I would argue that also in olden days parents maybe weren’t doing the best to communicate with their children. So I think that being able to bounce off of each other is what gives the show, in any iteration, its magic. We do a lot of learning at the table, a lot of healing, a lot of growing. It’s not always tense, it’s not always not tense, we cry way more than I’d like to admit.
GE: Way too much
LE: Waaay more.
EE: I’m like, I can’t believe the table hasn’t melted at this point! But yeah, it’s a challenge… but a well-welcomed challenge.
LE: I’ve been in front of the TV forever, but to have a moment you feel comfortable within your own skin, it takes years.
EE: It’s a give and take, ‘cause it can get dangerous. We’re so exposed… in the past you could be more private. Now, people are all up in your space whether you like it or not.
GE: Yeah. By the way, one caveat if my mother were still alive, there’s no way in hell I’d be doing this show.
EE: Well, if abuela was alive and we did this show, I think WE wouldn’t be alive. I think she’d kill us.
Looking to build on the success of the first season of their Facebook Watch series Red Table Talk: The Estefans, three generations of Estefan ladies—Gloria, Lili, and Emily—get set for season 2 in the fall and will no doubt dissect topics that affect women worldwide. I happened to catch them all together in Miami and we talked about political correctness, cancel culture, how past experiences can shape us, and the one taboo topic the series won’t touch.
GE: Or she’d steal the show. Yeah she would’ve gotten to it eventually, but it just would’ve been really tough.
EE: Hold on, though. My grandma, I feel, actually gave us a lot of strength and a lot of practice for the red table, because she would sit at her round glass table in her house all day. People would come there, talk to her but she did not move, so we’re kinda keeping the table alive, her table alive.
GE: Exactly, she was like the Godmother, like the Godfather. Rule the roost from there. But yeah, this would’ve been tough for her.
M: So Obama just launched his new book and one of the things he said, identical to what Emily just said there. When Michelle Obama was in the White House she felt she could never be off guard. Now all three of you are in the public eye, good, bad, indifferent, aggressive, however you want to look at it. Lili, how do you grapple with the culture of what is happening right now, how do you support, endorse, or blast out, call out stuff that is bad, wrong, incorrect? We’re all now in isolation, reflecting on our lives. How do you deal with the scariness, that anxiety, that tension of ‘I can’t say anything wrong, I can’t step out of place.’ How do you come to terms with that space and how do you educate?
GE: Listen, we’ve been public figures growing up, and Emily grew up in a family that’s totally public. I decided at some point to lead with love, lead with examples. For me, how do I deal with it? How do I call out things that I don’t think should be going up? I think of my kids and I think of the world that I want to leave for them. And I usually say when I’m doing La Gorda y La Flaca, (her Univision talk show) ‘Raúl, you know, I cannot approve of this because I wouldn’t want my daughter to be that person. I try to normalize things I think would be normal for my family. I try to think of ten years, twenty years from now, what is the world that I want for them. I had to learn to be very careful, but very objective. I don’t know if I’m saying the right thing or the wrong thing so what do I say? ‘Guys, I’d rather not say anything, because right now it’s so hard to make a comment about something.’
EE: Yeah, I personally think that cancel culture is really dangerous. We have to navigate that extremely carefully because it is such a negative, malicious thing to all of a sudden put a box around somebody and make an opinion about them and a lot of these people who are being canceled nobody even knows them intimately. That’s why I think Red Table is important because you want to give somebody an opportunity.
So it’s difficult, but cancelling culture, I’ll say, I’ll speak for myself, I think, is garbage. I think it’s a counterproductive system. Like it’s just going to fuel more anxiety, more stress. When people are afraid, fear is the opposite of love.
GE: I studied psychology and communication so this is incredibly interesting to me and what I see it as and we’re seeing a lot of it is abuse of power. We’re seeing power being abused on all levels, coming from the top, all the way down.
EE: Mhm. *Snaps fingers*
GE: And when that becomes normal, yes, people have power in the media, that’s what cancel culture is. It’s like, ‘I don’t like what you said so now I’m going to rally the troops and not buy your product…”
EE: Don’t stop there, death threats, camping outside of houses…
GE: This is one of the downfalls of everyone having an opinion whether you’ve earned the right to share that opinion. Whatever the point is, everyone now has a place where they can just spew their hatred. Behind that anonymity and behind… you can’t get to me. So there’s going to be a reckoning for all of this.
GE: Every day, Monday through Friday, it gets to the point where you’re like, ‘When am I ever politically correct?’ or ‘What am I doing wrong? The show is all about my opinion and Raúl’s opinion so for me, it’s been hard.
GE: And by the way, I [studied] the Holocaust in college because I wanted to understand how something like that happens but the one lesson I learned is that silence is our biggest enemy. But when we start seeing the degradation of the basic human freedoms and of the things we have held up as truth… Truth is getting dismantled. Someone will say the truth like scientists aren’t being believed. It’s very, very disruptive.
EE: Gloria Estafan 2024!
GE: No, no, well I couldn’t if I wanted to, which I would never want to. I wasn’t born here. But yeah, we’re living in some dangerous times and we have to step up. You know, there has to be a point where you say enough. That’s the bottom line.
GE: The first time that it happened, we never thought it was gonna take us through the years through this process that now… It is what it is and we don’t know how to get out of that, right?
GE: The answer is Emily. Their generation. You guys have the power. I am very proud of how young people came out to vote. I am very proud of our young people who came out to protest an injustice when the George Floyd incident happened. They thought first about defending justice, then about their own health. So those things make me hopeful for things that are coming.
GE: Well, we didn’t grow up with social media.
EE: You guys just grew up with social.
M: I’d love to ask one final closing question for all of you . Is there any single subject that you feel is daring enough to bring to your table conversation? Is there anything that you would question, ‘Do we talk about it, do we not talk about it? Who are we going to offend, who are we not going to offend?’ And do you take that chance?
GE: Very simple. Politics. We left it off the table. We left it off the table because, right now, in the climate that we are seeing, the fact that family members and close friends have differing views and the fact that I don’t think there’s anything anyone could say to the other party that would change anything right now. Because this is the moment we’re living in and we want to salvage our relationships because they are going to go far beyond four years or eight years.
EE: But hold on a minute. Because we keep saying, ‘Oh we’re not going to discuss politics, we’re not talking about politics.’ However, I have to disagree because I cannot say, but we do have a very important—in my idea—political [discussion coming up], not in the way that we describe politics now, but informative, useful, and helpful on another form of our government that’s really really important that I’m super excited about.
GE: But politics is life, really, the word politics is life. The problem is, right now, the climate that we’re living in—it is not going to be a useful tool to reach out to people right at this moment. It’s volatile, it causes polarization, and what we wanted to do with this first series is to bring people in. Later on, that might change, but right now, that was the one subject, that was it.
EE: There were also a bunch of subjects that we didn’t get to that we spent a lot of time talking about. Also people’s feedback, we had a mental health episode and people were like, ‘Oh, I would love to hear more about that.’ We have limited time. As long as people keep watching, we won’t’ shut up, as clearly you can see.
M: And I salute that! That is really amazing to hear. Lilli, tell me what your thoughts are on picking up on what Gloria and Emily are saying on the do’s and don’ts. How far do you go?
GE: I understand perfectly why I decided to not bring politics to this Table, because as Gloria said, we want to unite people and bring people to something that we’re really going to connect. Talking about politics is really hard to connect now with people that are on the other side. Why? Because we’re in the extremes.
EE: It shouldn’t be though!
GE: Extremes. There’s nobody in the middle and that’s why I think the United States is so divided. The country is very divided right now. It’s not a good moment. I really don’t feel…I don’t know why.
EE: Although I will say that it is important that we grow towards having conversations and respecting each other’s opinions, because when I was growing up, it didn’t matter if you were a Democrat or a Republican. Those debates were with respect. The person who is in charge should be able to handle themselves.
GE: And we’re not affiliated. I mean, I’m not affiliated. Emilio is not affiliated. We don’t even want to be independent because it’s a party. The party system, I think, is severely damaged.
M: Can I be a fly on the wall at that Table when you do the conversation on politics?
GE: Absolutely. Hey, you can come to the Table!
EE: You’ll be the mediator. The mediator.
GE: Give us your two cents. I have a gavel, so watch out.
EE: Oh god, OH MY GOD! When she brings out that gavel, it comes from a rip in time in space. I don’t know what it is, but it’s always there.!!