Cristina Saralegui: Making Lemons Into Limonada

Described as the Spanish media’s “Latina Oprah Winfrey,” Cristina Saralegui lives up to the comparison to her television hermana: She’s an award-winning television journalist, a bold interviewer and a compassionate listener. Did we mention that she has the requisite eponymous magazine?

When Saralegui’s television contract was not renewed in 2010, she wondered if she had, at 62, come to the end of her run. “I thought, ‘Well, at my age, one retires,’” she says. But in her corazon, Saralegui wanted to continue doing groundbreaking television. A fateful charla with a TV ejecutivo clarified the circumstance. He had waited 10 years for her to be available to bring her to a new network. Saralegui saw an opportunity to start fresh and began planning a new show. “We always have to start anew, with new hope,” she says.

With twice the budget, Saralegui created “Pa’lante Con Cristina,” debuting to ecstatic audiences last October. Not only did top talent such as Pitbull inaugurate a spectacular set, but Saralegui also snapped up the coveted seven-to-nine Sunday evening slot when familias typically spend time together.

Saralegui is determined to make her new show a hit on the small screen. As its executive producer, more of the responsibility now weighs on her. One priority will be to reach younger, English-speaking viewers about important issues, such as la salud and la sexualidad. And though she occasionally thinks about retiring, Saralegui clarifies that “the old lady” is not worn out. “I’m leaving when I want to, and that must hold true for all of us.”

by Shirley Velásquez