Mental health remains stigmatized in the Latinx community and as a result it’s not just difficult accessing mental health care but it’s also hard to begin to have these conversations. So often it’s media that helps us feel seen and understood, even if representation is still so scarce. Shows like Gentefied and One Day at a Time made us feel like we were seeing our family and issues that resonated with us including immigration, first gen struggles, and identity. So when Grammy-winning singer Gloria Estefan, 64; her daughter singer Emily Estefan, 26; and her niece and Daytime Emmy Award-winning TV host Lili Estefan, 54, came together in 2019 for the Latina version of Red Table Talk it felt like not only the representation that was needed but the start of conversations on topics we rarely talk about but need to. The multi-generational premise of the show launched on Facebook Watch with Jada Pinkett Smith; her daughter, Willow Smith; and her mom, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, tackling important and timely topics and the Estefans have carried on the tradition with a Latinx twist.
Season two of Red Table Talk: The Estefans launches today featuring 12 new episodes touching on important topics including colorism, online bullying, unrealistic beauty standards, and the uprising in Cuba. For the emotional premiere episode they’ll sit down for a revealing conversation with the first Latina Bachelorette, Clare Crawley. She shares her story of being molested by a Catholic priest as a child and they’ll have a doctor on hand to breakdown warning signs for abuse in children. Engaging in taboo topics is nothing new for RTT and while the topics vary, at its core RTT The Estefans is centering stories for the Latinx community and tackling all angles. This season they’ll be doing it in conversations with stars including Anitta, Becky G, Amara La Negra, Karamo, Lauren Jauregui and Gabi Demartino.
“It’s Latinas with our dynamic, with our cultural background, with our family mentality, talking about these topics that are very difficult and oftentimes taboo in the Latin culture,” Gloria tells HipLatina.
In the first season, Emily shared how difficult it was coming out to her family while Lili talked openly about her divorce and Gloria discussed the grief of losing her mother. While this season promises thought-provoking and emotional discussions with celebs and thought leaders, there will also be more of these personal episodes exploring their own lives. Among those is one where Gloria discusses her 43-year marriage to Emilio and the secret to keeping the passion alive. “I am still waiting for the number for HR. I know way too much about my parents’ sex life. Like really?” Emily jokes. Whereas Lili is more curious: “Gloria and Emilio have been married for 43 years now. Don’t you want to know?” she says with a laugh. It’s light-hearted moments like this that cut through the more emotional and heavy ones that they cover on the show.
During our discussion they laughed and talked over each other much like in the show, a dynamic very familiar in Latinx homes where everyone has something to say sitting around the dining table. It’s this mix of love, honesty, humor, and thoughtfulness that is part of the reason why the show resonated with so many viewers. It’s also indicative of a step toward breaking generational cycles and removing stigmas. With each episode operating almost like a group therapy session, it’s cultivated a safe space for the women.
“You know, even when families work together, a lot of the times that causes issues. And, you know, there are moments at the table that are heated. I’m not going to lie, but in those moments we don’t do it because it’s good television. It comes up because we’re having honest conversations and then we’re forced to deal with them. The table is a place to heal and we have nowhere to run,” Emily shares.
Gloria herself says she loves reading the Facebook comments after episodes premiere and is also adamant about ensuring the translated captions are accurate. She shares that they’ve received criticism for not doing the show in Spanish but says that with Facebook’s global reach English made the most sense but she wants to ensure Spanish speakers get accurate translations. This attention to detail is also evident in her love of including experts during discussions, which she attributes to her background in psychology, with the goal being that people “feel less lonely, more informed, more engaged.”
This season they’re also telling the stories that are close to their heart like discussing the historic uprising in Cuba that occurred in July of this year. Gloria, who was born in Santiago de Cuba, says that episode is “incredibly important” especially considering the hoopla has died “because of course the Cuban government has done what they always do and has militarized the island. So it was important for us as Cubans to bring this to the table and to continue the conversation.” In that same thread, as Miamians (where the show is filmed), they also dedicated an episode the Surfside condo collapse in Miami which left 98 people dead. They speak with people directly affected by the disaster including a survivor and Gloria calls it a “healing and beautiful episode.”
And this season they’re not shying away from difficult topics like colorism with an episode featuring Amara la Negra, who is of Dominican descent, and Karamo (Queer Eye) who is of Cuban descent. Emily shares how the concept of “mejorar la raza” is problematic and prevalent in the Latinx community. “It’s disturbing, it’s disgusting and it’s thrown around like nothing. So some conversations are hard, but they have a great potential to ignite change with within the home, which is really where everything starts.” With mainstream media rarely covering colorism, having two prominent Afro-Latinx on the red table is putting this topic that remains taboo in the Latinx community front and center.
In true RTT fashion, no topic is off the table and the multi-generational perspectives bring varied opinions with professionals bringing an academic perspective which Emily describes as altogether a “beautiful package.” All three women emphasize that the show is about not just having the conversations, but learning how to have conversations on difficult and emotional topics with respect.
“I hope they hear more our message of ‘respect opinions.’ Everyone has got an opinion now, but we have to respect it. We are giving people a safe space for them to talk, for them to vent, and for others to listen and learn So it was important for us as Cubans to bring this to the table and to continue the conversation,” Lili says.
“I hope that it’s a stepping stone in the viewers’ personal journey to whatever direction they need to go,” Emily added.