“On Your Feet” is a powerful story about two down-to-earth dreamers whose passion for music, love for family & culture, and hunger for the American Dream led them to success.
It’s a musical that brings to life the unique journey of two people, Emilio and Gloria Estefan, immigrant dreamers whose hard work and drive crossed barriers - in music and entertainment during a time when Latino entertainers weren't mainstream.
And yet, for all that they’ve accomplished and continue to accomplish my experience of them, as individuals and as a couple, was as normal as normal could be.
Two grateful people, humbled by the opportunities that America has given them.
Our interview took place inside a small room on the second floor of Shea's, while finishing touches were sliding into place for opening night.
In a small room, it was the three of us and my photographer David.
Before we got started started Gloria reapplied some lipstick, while laughing; meanwhile Emilio, to her left continued a conversation with my mother (who so happened to be born in the same town in Cuba), reminiscing about their beloved home country.
Before gathering my thoughts and sitting down in a small chair, she walked over and embraced me. It was so tight and so genuine, releasing all my worries and anxieties about how the next 10 minutes or so together would go.
I was unsure. Unsure of how how they would respond to me, my questions, and truthfully, the whole interview.
As I prepared to mic them up, Gloria immediately chimed in, “oh let me do that, don’t worry,” and suddenly I realized that in this moment, I wasn’t talking to award-winning mega stars, they, like all of us, are human beings looking to make a difference in the world.
We started in Spanish, catching up on tales of Miami, Cuban food, culture, all of the good stuff, leading me to my first question - one about the power of their message, of their story.
We touched on a bit of everything, from how their show is making history as the first Broadway show to hire nearly a 100% Latino cast, to how their personal journey is resonating with people of all cultures and communities around the world.
I remember one concept, that whether it popped up in English or in Spanish kept sticking with me, one my parents (who are also immigrants) taught me at a young age - "it wasn't easy."
The Estefans' heard no many times before they heard yes, but they stuck to what they knew - their culture, their identity and themselves. The music speaks for itself.
Their success and their story has touched the world. From generation to generation; it's resonating with people and with families - and now with Buffalo.
Here to kick off their world tour, the Estefans shared, "we get a really familiar feeling in Buffalo. We've really enjoyed it."
By the end, it was a conversation that brought tears and smiles to my eyes at the same time and one that I'll never forget.
"We just so happen to be Latino, but this story is about everyone, for everyone. It doesn't matter what you look like and where you come from." - Gloria Estefan.