For more than 80 years Showtime At The Apollo has made us laugh, cry, and cringe. As the revival heads to its new primetime slot our favorite Cheetah Girl and The Real co-host Adrienne Houghton will now be taking over for long time co-host Kiki Shepard. If you’re even vaguely familiar with Showtime at the Apollo you know that people get boo’d, heckled, and pulled off the stage when their performances aren’t on par with the audience’s expectations. You may also know that the Apollo Theater has been a launchpad for some of the most iconic artists of our time, including Michael Jackson, James Brown, and Stevie Wonder.
Houghton will be stepping into a co-host role opposite Steve Harvey that adds a new layer by mixing in the background stories of the people leaving it all out on the stage – an element that follows the mold of other primetime talent shows. In the position Houghton says she’ll draw on her past experiences as an actress, a singer and as a New Yorker familiar with the Harlem crowd. “I’m from New York so I know that Harlem audience well; I understand it. We are as honest as can be. So in those moments I’m just like ‘show mercy,’” she said with a chuckle to HipLatina. “But at the same time they’re keeping it real with you and I know it’s not great at the time but I started my career when I was 14 and it’s almost like you have to understand if you get booed, get better. And it’s not a negative thing, it’s actually a super positive thing at such a young age.”
For the record, a Latina co-hosting a historically Black showcase is kind of a huge deal. Especially coming off the conversations about diversity in Hollywood and the overall lack of representation of Latinos in the media. An issue Houghton says established Latinos should be taking on by using their positions to open doors and amplify up and coming talent. When HipLatina asked her if she feels a responsibility to be that Latina representation she responded honestly, “I don’t put that pressure on myself. I’m not the only Latina out there. There are more beautiful, more talented, gifted, anointed Latinas out there, I think it’s now just a question of rise up… Like Cardi B, you can say whatever you want but there is something special about her; she’s got a gift, she’s got something on her that when she speaks people listen. And I will be the first person when I see that next person, to be like ‘hey listen to her, she’s amazing.’”
Houghton has done her fair share of opening doors as a young Latina in music in the early 2000’s and as the first Latina on an English speaking daytime talk show in 2014, an honor she has mixed feelings about – “while it’s an honor, it’s a shock because that sounds ridiculous. It sounds ridiculous that in 2014 I was the first Latina EVER to be on an English channel network talk show.” But it’s something that drives her, as well as the desire to be a part of a platform that will potentially give so much mainstream exposure to Black and Latina voices. “I feel the pressure to make sure that Latina voices are heard, not so much my own in honesty, but I think that it’s awesome seeing young Latina’s doing amazing things.”
Showtime At The Apollo premieres March 1, 2018 on FOX at 9/8c