‘Cristela’: Sitcom Star Opens Up About Childhood Poverty

"We grew up in poverty and my mom worked double shifts at a local restaurant cooking"

CristelaCristela Alonzo is opening up about a childhood plagued with poverty and struggles.

“For the first 8 years of my life my family were squatters in an abandoned diner,” she told TV critics during a panel for new ABC sitcom, CRISTELA.

“Watching TV was my escape from having that childhood.  We grew up in poverty and my mom worked double shifts at a local restaurant cooking, at a Mexican restaurant for about 20 years.  She did double shifts 6 days a week.”

Cristela — who began her career as a stand up comic in Dallas — says many aspects of the show are drawn from her real family life.

“My family was all about survival,” she says.  “Getting by.”

“Any kind of luxury like going to college was an impossibility for us.  For some reason, I was always the obedient kid that paid attention to her mom, but with this I always knew I had to go out and do it.  I loved it so much that it would bother me if I didn’t try.  That is why I am here right now.  Because every time an obstacle came up that would scare the hell out of me, I would still go forward because I knew there was a chance I could attain that goal.”

My mom and I didn’t speak for a long while when I left home to pursue [show business] because she couldn’t understand it.  Unfortunately she passed away before she ever saw any of this.  But even now, I like to think she is very proud of what I have accomplished.”

CRISTELA premieres Friday, October 10 on ABC.


Sean Daly

Sean Daly

Editor-In-Chief at TheTVPage.com
Sean Daly is a veteran entertainment journalist.His work has appeared in People, Us Weekly, The Toronto Star and other top publications. He was the west coast TV reporter for The New York Post from 2008 - 2013. Sean is the author of Inside AGT: The Untold Stories of America's Got Talent and Teen Mom Confidential: Secrets and Scandals From MTV's Most Controversial Shows.
Sean Daly