Mayte Garcia and Eric Cubiche, Stars of Si
TV Network's "Across The Hall"
Si TV, an emerging Latino Television Network founded
by Jeff Valdez, is putting a new face on Spanish television. We've all
seen those Spanish speaking channels on TV as we're flipping through
the remote control, especially if you live in or near a large city.
Spanish speaking soap operas, talk shows and the like have been coming
through American airwaves for decades, due the close proximity of Central
and South America to the United States, and the fact that Hispanics
are the largest and fastest growing American minority population in
the Unites States today.
Launched in February of 2004, Si TV seeks to create a
different spin on the Latino Television market by being the first Latino
TV Network where all of the programming is in English. Founder and CEO,
Jeff Valdez thought it was time for a network to step up and show more
modern and hip programming that celebrates Latino culture, but also
embraces the assimilation into American culture in the process. Many
second and third generation Latino Americans want to take pride in their
background as a culture and style, rather then it being classified as
a language. Jeff Valdez built Si TV for acculturated Latinos and other
multi cultural people that would appeal to the urban marketplace as
a whole. His vision was to work with Latino talent and to create a Latino
They say they are not trying to encourage Latinos to veer
away from their native language, but rather offering a contemporary
alternative for those who are more English dominant and more assimilated
in American culture, but still want to celebrate their Latino heritage
and urban culture and see their own on television.
Si TV is currently in 10 million households across the
US, and available through Adelphia and Time Warner Cable Systems as
well as Echo Star Dish TV. You can find Si TV in many cities across
the US including: New York and the Tri-state area, Los Angeles, Chicago,
Miami, Parts of Texas, Denver and Colorado Springs.
One of my favorite shows on the Si TV Network is "Across
The Hall," starring the beautiful and multi-talented Mayte Garcia
who has performed as a backup dancer and singer for the likes of Prince
and Tommy Lee, and who taught Britney Spears how to belly dance for
her most provocative music video, "Slave 4 U." Mayte's co-host
is Eric Cubiche. Eric began his career as a Los Angeles area DJ who
transitioned into an on-air personality with a show on L.A. TV, and
then joined the prestigious roster of DJs at Los Angeles's Top 40 radio
station, 100.3FM The Beat. "Across The Hall" is about two
neighbors who share a love for music, and introduce artists and music
videos based on a certain theme, depending on the episode. Mayte and
Eric also have magical chemistry onscreen and share a penchant for teasing
each other with good hearted humor.
Mayte Garcia of Si TV Network's "Across
PR.com (Allison Kugel): So, you were born in Alabama?
Mayte Garcia: I was born in Alabama but we literally
lived there for like, two months. My dad was in flight school in the
army, so I lived kind of, everywhere. The place I lived for the most
was North Carolina, and there was a very small Latino population. My
parents made sure that I had the Latino [culture]. My mom was a Spanish
teacher. I definitely felt disconnected from it, but we had [Latino]
friends who we would spend the weekend with, but they didn't go to the
same school as us. But I don't remember a lot of Latinos being in North
Carolina. We would go to Puerto Rico for three months during the summer
and stay with my grandparents.
PR.com: Did you ever live in New York at all?
Mayte Garcia: I lived in New York about four years ago,
and that was fun.
PR.com: That's the heaviest Puerto Rican population
in the states…
Mayte Garcia: I know! It's a whole 'nother state.
PR.com: That's where I grew up. I had Puerto Rican
friends and I went to the Puerto Rican Day Parade in June, years ago.
Mayte Garcia: Fun.
PR.com: They taught me how to cook and I still make
a lot of the dishes that they taught me.
Mayte Garcia: I love the food.
PR.com: Me too. A little too much! How did you first
learn about the Si TV Network, and how were you cast to co-host the
show, "Across the Hall?"
Mayte Garcia: Being a Latino and being in the business,
I had heard about an English language network with a Latino base. And
then a friend of mine was producing one of the shows and I got called
in to audition for it. I went in, and I was myself. My co-host Eric
[Cubiche], I had auditioned with some other people, but the minute me
and him got together, just crazy great chemistry. I guess they saw it,
and we got the gig.
PR.com: Is your dialogue scripted or ad libbed on
Mayte Garcia: It's mostly all ad libbed. We'll do it two
or three times and we'll add stuff, or we'll say something crazy. It's
just crazy, the way that we are, and it's ironic because we're both
born on the same day. When me and him start talking, it's free flowing.
It's not even like work.
PR.com: Do they give you a theme, or they just say,
"Ok, these are the music videos you're showing, so keep the conversation
along those lines?
Mayte Garcia: It's kind of turning more into a sitcom,
like, "Ok, you're gonna go in here and this is gonna happen. But
say whatever you want." Like, I'll go to his house and he'll want
to be alone and "Gone Solo" is the name of the show, featuring
artists' [videos] that have been in groups who want to be alone and
have a solo career. But then he's also at his house and wants to be
alone and I want to bother him…
PR.com: Ok, I get it.
Mayte Garcia: It's great because it's the theme of the
videos and also, I'm bothering him and he wants to be alone.
PR.com: One of the DVDs they sent me was when your
sister was on the show with you, and Eric was kind of picking on you
and your sister.
Mayte Garcia: Yeah. 'Cause that's just the way we are
and he was trying to find out information. It was a great show. That's
all we do is pick on each other.
PR.com: Do the producers ever come to you for ideas?
Mayte Garcia: No, but I know that the writers know us.
The people who are working on the show know our personalities and they'll
come up with ideas and throw it at us. It's a pretty good group of people
doing the show.
PR.com: Were both of your parents born in Puerto
Mayte Garcia: Yeah, and my dad joined the army after he
graduated from college. That's how we ended up in the states.
PR.com: I asked this of Eric too. Did you grow up
watching Telemundo and Univision?
Mayte Garcia: Yeah, I grew up watching (she goes
off with a fast tongue rattling off several Spanish shows), all
PR.com: Did you feel a real connection with those
shows and was Spanish mostly spoken in your household?
Mayte Garcia: Yeah, well, my mother made sure that we
spoke Spanish, and she's a Spanish teacher. When she speaks English,
I'm like, "Why are you talking to me in English??"
Mayte Garcia and Eric Cubiche, of Si TV Network's
"Across The Hall"
PR.com: Eric (Eric Cubiche, Mayte's co-host)
said the same thing. He said, when his mother speaks to him in English,
he asks her why she is speaking to him in English.
Mayte Garcia: My dad is the opposite. When he speaks to
me in Spanish, I'm like, "Why are you speaking to me in Spanish??"
Growing up, he wanted us to speak English and my mom wanted us to speak
PR.com: He was more concerned with you becoming
Mayte Garcia: Yeah, because I think he knew that my mom
wouldn't [teach us], and I went to army school, military school growing
PR.com: Where did your mom teach Spanish?
Mayte Garcia: She taught soldiers who had to go on special
missions to Latin America, who only had six weeks to learn Spanish.
PR.com: Wow! What are some things that you love
about Latino culture and what are some things that you think can be
improved within the community?
Mayte Garcia: I love the food. Crazy, crazy food!
PR.com: And you're so skinny…
Mayte Garcia: I know, but I will eat! But it is automatic
weight gain. Also, I like the pride that Latinos have. I'm not saying
other cultures don't have it. I went to a Black Eyed Peas Concert and
one guy was Pilipino, the other guy was Mexican and they both had their
flags. It's so great to see people being proud of where they come from,
PR.com: Have you ever been to the Puerto Rican Day
Parade in New York?
Mayte Garcia: I haven't.
PR.com: I have. It's crazy!
Mayte Garcia: I'm going next year.
PR.com: My friend took me years ago. It was crazy
and a lot of fun. You have to go.
Mayte Garcia: My sister lived in New York for eight years.
She would go and take pictures, and I've always missed it. But there's
competition and I feel, a little bit of negativity [within the Latino
community]. But the positives are more then the negatives.
PR.com: Do you think that a sense of competition
within the Latino community is something that needs to be improved?
Mayte Garcia: I just think we should be more supportive.
Because we are, I think, the largest minority, and it's happening. We're
finally getting up there. Let's not try to hold each other back. We
have to push each other.
PR.com: Do you think as far as relationships go,
that Latino men get a bad rap? What's your take on that?
Mayte Garcia: It's funny, 'cause I've never dated a
Latino. But my dad is the ultimate Latin lover! But I think it's great.
I just have never been around to date any of them. I think in general,
I don't typecast it on Latinos. I think men, in general are kind of…
(She trails off and cracks up laughing and I follow suit, as we are
probably both having the same thoughts)
PR.com: What purpose do you see the Si TV Network
fulfilling, both socially and politically among 18-34 year old Latinos?
Mayte Garcia: Well I personally think that Latinos seeing
other Latinos on TV is amazing. Rita Moreno! That was the only Latina
I saw on TV, that I can remember growing up. I think that's what makes
[Si TV] so great. You have to see your own on TV and being successful
and working and making money. And I think you feel a sense of pride,
like, "Wow! I can do that!" It's motivational and it's so
PR.com: You felt deprived growing up because you
didn't see faces that looked similar to your own on TV and you were
searching for role models…
Mayte Garcia: Absolutely! It was Madonna and people like
that. Now it's really cool that we have Jennifer Lopez, Eva Mendes…
all these people now on TV being successful, so it's like, "I can
do that too!" For me, I always had that drive and didn't care.
PR.com: Everyone gets their inspiration from somewhere.
You started off as a dancer, and you were pretty successful. Where did
you get the idea in your mind or the confidence to say, this is something
I want to do and can do?
Mayte Garcia: For me it was my parents, but I just
had that drive. And then also working with the people who I worked with
(legendary singer Prince was her mentor). They were very supportive.
I worked hard, and definitely my parents were very supportive.
PR.com: Did your parents encourage you to take dance
lessons when you were growing up?
Mayte Garcia: Oh yeah. My mom wanted to be a dancer and
her mother didn't let her, so when I wanted to, she was very supportive.
PR.com: How do you see the Si TV Network evolving
over the next five years?
Mayte Garcia: I see it [becoming] as big as it wants to
be. It's a great network and the shows that are on it… and it's
not just for Latinos, you know? It'll be big!
Eric Cubiche of Si TV Network's "Across
PR.com: And Eric, you're Cuban, correct?
Eric Cubiche: Yeah, I'm Cuban and I was born in L.A.
PR.com: Do you feel any generational gap between
you and your parents, since they weren't born here?
Eric Cubiche: No, because in Cuban culture, the family
life is a lot closer, so you don't really ever feel a generation gap.
PR.com: Which language was spoken mostly, in your
house growing up?
Eric Cubiche: Spanish. I kind of feel weird talking to
my mom in English. When my mom tries to talk to me in English, I'm like,
"Mom! Talk Spanish to me, please!"
PR.com: Do you think in Spanish or English? (Eric
told me at the end of our interview, that he thought this was my best
question. Go figure.)
Eric Cubiche: I think in English, sometimes I think in
Spanish though. When I'm around Spanish people, then I think in Spanish.
PR.com: You're currently a DJ at 100.3FM The Beat,
in Los Angeles, right? Otherwise known as Z100 in New York! (I laugh,
thinking this is hilarious and I hear dead silence from Eric.)
Eric Cubiche: What is it??
Eric Cubiche: In New York??
PR.com: Yeah! (Tough room. I gracefully change
the subject) How did Si TV find you, and how did they cast you to
co-host "Across the Hall?"
Eric Cubiche: I was working at a different TV station,
L.A. TV. I was working there and doing a couple different shows and
then I auditioned for Si TV and they picked me.
PR.com: When did "Across the Hall" start
airing on Si TV?
Eric Cubiche: It started about two years ago. We've done
PR.com: Did you watch Univision or Telemundo when
you were growing up?
Eric Cubiche: I watched El Chavo del Ocho. Did you ever
Eric Cubiche: You don't know El Chavo del Ocho?? (No,
but I know Z100 :) Oh my god! It's a huge show! In Spanish culture
it's a huge show!
(Someone from the Si TV Network chimes in and I'm
told it's like a Spanish version of The Three Stooges, but Eric strongly
Eric Cubiche: No, it's like Mr. Roger's Neighborhood,
but for Spanish kids. Everybody watches that show.
PR.com: Do you feel a connection with urban culture
in general or just Spanish culture?
Eric Cubiche: Both. I'm a chameleon. I adapt to wherever
I am. I was born in Hawthorne and I grew up in Huntington Beach [CA].
Because I've worked at an urban radio station, I've been asked, "Am
I comfortable when I go to an all black club?" And I don't even
notice that anybody's black, or anybody's Latin or anybody's Asian.
I don't care.
PR.com: Are you currently Deejaying live, around
Eric Cubiche: Yeah. That's how I started on the radio.
I started DJing as a mixer and that's how I got on the radio. Then I
parlayed that into being an on air personality. I do a bunch of clubs
in Hollywood, and in Orange County too.
PR.com: Is it a smooth transition from radio to
Eric Cubiche: Yeah, because I know the music and the culture.
PR.com: So it's like DJing, but in front of the
Eric Cubiche: Absolutely. When you have a passion for
something, it comes naturally.
PR.com: Who are your favorite artists?
Eric Cubiche: I like Sade, I like Julio Iglesius, and
I like Kanye West a lot … 50 Cent, Game…Godsmack, Pearl Jam,
Nirvana…all different types of music.
PR.com: How do you envision the Si TV Network contributing
to Latin Culture?
Eric Cubiche: It's doing something that nobody else
is doing. You don't have to be 100% full Latin all the time. The new
generation of people growing up, they speak Spanglish (A mix of English
and Spanish). Other networks are hardcore Spanish, and it's not all
about that. A lot of the Latino TV stations, they fall into those stereotypes
and it's kind of whack.
PR.com: Stereotypes, how?
Eric Cubiche: A lot of Spanish TV Stations fall into
those stereotypes where they do all the crazy shit. All the crazy TV
shows… it's real chauvinist actually. Women always in bikinis.
I don't mind it, but it's not a good image. I mean, I enjoy a girl in
a bikini as much as anyone, but on a TV show at 3pm in the afternoon,
I wouldn't want my kid watching it. A girl in a G String walking around,
and all that stuff. What Si TV is doing…it's not perpetuating those
stereotypes. It's a little different flavor.
PR.com: Si TV is showing women in a more positive
Eric Cubiche: Oh, absolutely.
PR.com: Does Si TV want to embrace urban culture
or move away from it?
Eric Cubiche: Urban culture has become "pop"
now. That's why you hear all these pop stations playing urban music.
Urban culture turned pop, so everybody's embracing it. It's pop culture
now. When you hear 50 Cent on a pop radio station, you're like, "What?!
Are you kidding me right now??" (We laugh)
PR.com: Where do you envision the Si TV Network
going and growing over the next five years?
Eric Cubiche: The network in gonna grow big. Latinos are
a big percentage of the population in the United States. It's a matter
of Si TV being able to get to all those people. And the more it grows,
I think the more people are going to embrace it.
After the formal part of the interview is over,
Eric asks me if I thought our conversation went well and then he gives
me a rundown of all of the New York radio stations he does know, in
hopes of redeeming himself. We chat about 97.1 - Hot 97 (New York's
biggest hip hop station), and his love of Miami, before saying our goodbyes.
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