Cristela Alonzo (born January 6, 1979)[1] is an American comedian, actress, writer and producer, who created and starred in the ABC sitcom Cristela.[2] She is the first Latina woman to create, produce, write, and star in her own US primetime comedy.[3][4]

Cristela Alonzo
Cristela Alonzo at PaleyFest - preview for her show, Cristela
Alonzo at the PaleyFest preview for Cristela
Born (1979-01-06) January 6, 1979 (age 41)
San Juan, Texas, U.S.
MediumStand-up, television, film
Years active2006–present
GenresObservational comedy, blue comedy, physical comedy, surreal humor, satire
Subject(s)Latin American culture, everyday life, sex, racism, social awkwardness

Early lifeEdit

Alonzo was born in San Juan, Texas, the youngest of four children of mother Natalia Gonzalez, who worked double shifts at a Mexican restaurant for about 20 years,[5] and father Adalberto Alonzo, both of whom were from Mexico.[1] When Alonzo's mother was pregnant with Alonzo, Alonzo's mother left her abusive husband and raised the children alone.[2] Alonzo has said that she never met her father, who died in 2009.[6] Alonzo grew up in San Juan, Texas.[7]

She has three siblings, older sister Julisa Maria Alonzo[8] and older brothers Eloy Eduardo Alonzo[9] and Ruben G Alonzo.[2] Alonzo's mother came from the small village of El Zancarron in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.[10] Throughout her childhood, on her mother's weekly day off, Alonzo spent time with her paternal grandmother in Reynosa, Mexico, just across the border.[4]

For the first eight years of Alonzo’s life, the family squatted in an abandoned diner, and were homeless and destitute, even with her mother working double shifts as a waitress.[2] She often went hungry, and had problems with skin pigment due to a lack of nutrition.[2] Alonzo said her mother often used humor to offset the abject poverty.[11] Alonzo learned English from watching TV as her family spoke only Spanish at home; her mother never learned to speak English.[2] Television was a way for the family to stay inside, avoiding the violence from drug trafficking in their neighborhood. Alonzo would translate American shows into Spanish and act them out for her mother.[2] Alonzo and her mother were inseparable. Alonzo and her mother shared a bed until Alonzo turned 18.[2]

Alonzo was raised in a very strict Catholic household.[2] Because her older sister married young, she spent much of her childhood hanging out with her older brothers and became interested in comic books, trading playing cards, a lot of Star Trek: TNG, Dungeons and Dragons and metal music.[12] She graduated from Pharr-San Juan-Alamo High School.[7]

At age 18, Alonzo left home to attend Webster University to study theater in St. Louis. However, Alonzo dropped out because she could no longer afford school.[13] She went back to Dallas and moved in with her sister, where she took care of her mother who was sick and her sister's children.[13] Alonzo's mother died in 2002.[2]


In 2003, a year after her mother died,[14] Alonzo got a job as an office manager at the Addison Improv[10] and started doing stand-up. Alonzo said that she started doing stand-up as a way to process her grief and talk about her mom and her family.[11] She was part of a small Dallas scene.[15] Alonzo eventually moved to Los Angeles to become a stand-up comedian.[2]

In 2006, Alonzo got her first break in Los Angeles when she was hired to write on a Comedy Central show.[16]

Alonzo spent two years traveling on a bus with the Honduran-born American comedian Carlos Mencia and several other comics.[2] Alonzo ended up leaving the tour. Alonzo then spent a lot of time on the road doing college comedy shows, where she found a lot of success.[2]

In 2010, Alonzo was a semi-finalist on the TV show Last Comic Standing, which raised her visibility and led to a May 2011 segment in the comedy showcase Legally Brown.[16]

Alonzo did a 30-minute segment of Comedy Central's The Half Hour on June 7, 2013.[15] She has appeared on Conan, Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Gabriel Iglesias Presents Stand Up Revolution, Showtime, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Live at Gotham.


In 2013, with TV producer Becky Clements, Alonzo created her own semi-autobiographical comedy pilot Cristela for ABC.[17] She wrote the pilot with her writing partner, Kevin Hench. It was not greenlit as a part of the 2013–2014 television season. In an unusual move, they decided to plan to shoot a pilot presentation with the penalty money (a 30% fee they got when the network initially passed).[18] On February 26, 2014, they shot a pilot presentation,[19] filmed on the stage of Last Man Standing with much of that show's crew to save money; it got a strong testing response from the audience.[20]

On May 10, 2014, ABC picked up the pilot to series for the 2014–15 television season.[21][22][23] After an initial order of 13 episodes, nine additional episodes were ordered, bringing the total count of episodes for season 1 to 22.[24][25][26] Cristela was a multi-camera show, shot in front of a live audience.[2] The series concluded on May 7, 2015, and has since been cancelled.[27]


In 2017, Alonzo voiced the character of Cruz Ramirez in the Disney-Pixar film Cars 3.[28]

In 2017, Alonzo released a Netflix stand-up special called Cristela Alonzo: Lower Classy.[29]

In 2019, Alonzo published a memoir called Music to My Years: A Mixtape-Memoir of Growing Up and Standing Up.[30] The memoir release is accompanied by a stand-up tour called My Affordable Care Act.[31]

Comedic styleEdit

Alonzo has a trademark, raucous laugh: “If I’m laughing, you know I’m either very happy or very sad,” she said. “I cope with things with jokes."[2] She is an observational comic who reflects on stories in her own life. Inspired by Bill Cosby and Roseanne Barr and her favorite childhood shows (The Cosby Show and Roseanne).[32]


After the 2016 election, Alonzo has stated that with the mentorship and encouragement of Dolores Huerta and poet Sonia Sanchez, she became more politically active, with a focus on immigration and healthcare.[30]:238[33] She supports Julián Castro for his 2020 presidential campaign. Alonzo has been outspoken as to the lack of representation of Latino candidate Castro on Saturday Night Live in their coverage of Democratic candidates.[34]

Personal lifeEdit

Alonzo was named after the midwife who delivered her. The midwife turned out to be her Cristela co-star Maria Canals-Barrera's husband's (actor David Barrera) aunt.[35]

Alonzo has been public about being diagnosed with diabetes, which she said she controls with medicine, diet, and exercise.[30]:238,263

Alonzo lives in Los Angeles. Her "home club" is the Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, California.[36]




  • 2006: Mind of Mencia, writer - 15 episodes
  • 2011: Sons of Anarchy, actor - 1 episode: "Fruit for the Crows"
  • 2012: Ladies Room Diaries, producer, writer - 3 episodes: "Rubik's Cubicle," "Okey Dokey Karaoke," "Hide n' Cake"; also actor
  • 2012: Hey It's Fluffy!, actor - 4 episodes
  • 2012: The Book Club, actor - 2 episodes: "The Warrior Reads On," "All Valley"
  • 2014-2015: Cristela, creator, executive producer, writer, actor
  • 2015: General Hospital actress - 1 episode
  • 2019: His Dark Materials voice actress - 6 episodes

Video gamesEdit


  • 2007: Carpet Diem, writer
  • 2007: Cookie de Mayo, writer
  • 2008: Life After, writer
  • 2008: Recycled, writer
  • 2009: TGIF: The Musical, writer, story
  • 2011: The North Council, writer
  • 2013: Hot Pursuit, actor
  • 2017: Miss Fritter's Racing Skoool, actor as Cruz Ramirez

Stand upEdit

Works and publicationsEdit

  • Alonzo, Cristela (2019). Music to My Years: A Mixtape-Memoir of Growing Up and Standing Up. New York: Atria Books. ISBN 978-1-501-18920-3. OCLC 1121187767.


In January 2014, Alonzo was named as one of "10 L.A. Comedy Acts to Watch in 2014" by L.A. Weekly.[37] She was also named one of "13 Funny Women to Watch in 2014" by Cosmopolitan.[38] In 2019, McAllen, Texas gave her the Key to the City.[39]


  1. ^ a b "Cristela Alonzo - Texas, Birth Index". FamilySearch. 6 January 1979.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Dominus, Susan (17 October 2014). "Cristela Alonzo Wants to Make America Laugh". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Fernandez, Maria Elena (10 October 2014). "All Jokes Aside, Cristela Alonzo Makes TV History". NBC News.
  4. ^ a b Hinojosa, Maria (24 October 2014). "Cristela". Latino USA. NPR.
  5. ^ Miller, Bruce R. (15 November 2014). "Cristela Alonzo realizes a life-long TV dream". Sioux City Journal.
  6. ^ "Adalberto Alonzo - United States Social Security Death Index". FamilySearch. 2009.
  7. ^ a b Nichol Smith, Amy (14 June 2010). "Comedian, San Juan native Cristela Alonzo is on her way to the big time". The Monitor.
  8. ^ "Julisa Maria Alonzo - Texas, Birth Index". FamilySearch. 1968.
  9. ^ "Eloy Eduardo Alonzo - Texas, Birth Index". FamilySearch. 1966.
  10. ^ a b Salamon, Jeff (October 2014). "Rio Grande Valley Girl". Texas Monthly.
  11. ^ a b Rosario, Daisy (24 October 2014). "Cristela!" (Audio interview). Latino USA.
  12. ^ Alonzo, Cristela (14 February 2014). "Valentine's Day Is Awkward For This Nerdy Tomboy..." Cristela Alonzo. Archived from the original (Blog) on 30 October 2014.
  13. ^ a b Alonzo, Cristela. "A Thousand Miles". Cristela Alonzo. Archived from the original (Blog) on 27 November 2015. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  14. ^ "Natalia T Gonzalez - United States Social Security Death Index". FamilySearch. 2003.
  15. ^ a b Czajkowski, Elise (4 June 2013). "Talking to Cristela Alonzo About 'The Half Hour', Her Development Deal, and Working Herself to Death". Splitsider. Archived from the original on 14 December 2014. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  16. ^ a b Martin, Michel (8 August 2012). "Cristela Alonzo, Making Funny Her Own Way". NPR.
  17. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (2 August 2013). "Cristela Alonzo Latina Comedy From 21 Laps/Adelstein Lands At ABC With Penalty". Deadline Hollywood.
  18. ^ Blair, Iain (22 July 2014). "10 Comics to Watch: Cristela Alonzo Scores a First With ABC Sitcom". Variety.
  19. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (26 February 2014). "Cristela Alonzo Latina Comedy From 20th Century Fox TV Gets ABC Order". Deadline Hollywood.
  20. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (7 May 2014). "Cristela Alonzo & Jerrod Carmichael Pilots: What They Say About TV Biz". Deadline Hollywood.
  21. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (10 May 2014). "ABC & 20th TV Reach Deal: 'Cristela' & 'Fresh Off the Boat' Picked Up To Series, 'Last Man Standing' Renewed". Deadline Hollywood.
  22. ^ Littleton, Cynthia (10 May 2014). "ABC Orders Comedies 'Cristela,' 'Fresh Off the Boat,' Renews 'Last Man Standing'". Variety.
  23. ^ Maglio, Tony (10 May 2014). "ABC Picks Up 'Cristela' and 'Fresh Off the Boat,' Renews 'Last Man Standing'". The Wrap.
  24. ^ "The little show that could, 'Cristela,' gets picked up for full season". Fox News Latino. 25 November 2014.
  25. ^ Ausiello, Michael (24 November 2014). "Cristela Snags Full-Season Pickup". TV Line.
  26. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (24 November 2014). "ABC's 'Cristela' Gets Full-Season Pickup". The Hollywood Reporter.
  27. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (May 2015). "'Forever' & 'Cristela' Cancelled By ABC". Deadline Hollywood.
  28. ^ Snetiker, Mark (5 January 2017). "Cars 3 first look: Meet Pixar's new millennials". Entertainment Weekly.
  29. ^ Garcia-Navarro, Lulu (5 March 2017). "From Mom Jokes To Trump-Era Racism, Cristela Alonzo Aims To Skewer Latino Stereotypes" (Includes audio interview). Weekend Edition Sunday. NPR.
  30. ^ a b c Alonzo, Cristela (2019). Music to My Years: A Mixtape-Memoir of Growing Up and Standing Up. New York: Atria Books. ISBN 978-1-501-18920-3. OCLC 1121187767.
  31. ^ Porter, Rick (15 July 2019). "Cristela Alonzo Sets Stand-Up Tour, Memoir Release (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter.
  32. ^ Terrero, Nina (10 October 2014). "'Cristela' creator talks sitcom inspiration, 'Golden Girls'". Entertainment Weekly.
  33. ^ Roe, Mike (8 October 2019). "How To Become An LA Comedian: Cristela Alonzo Explains". LAist. Archived from the original on 13 October 2019. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  34. ^ Ferguson, LaToya (2 October 2019). "'SNL' Under Fire for Julian Castro Omission, Lack of Latinx Casting". IndieWire.
  35. ^ Alonzo, Cristela (1 September 2014). "San Antonio. Labor Day. Cristela". Cristela Alonzo. Archived from the original (Blog) on 11 December 2014.
  36. ^ Alonzo, Cristela; Ogilvie, Jessica (30 September 2014). "Best of L.A.: Cristela Alonzo's Last Day in L.A.: Corn on the Cob, Chorizo and Doughnuts". L.A. Weekly.
  37. ^ Seabaugh, Julie (2 January 2014). "10 L.A. Comedy Acts to Watch in 2014". L.A. Weekly.
  38. ^ Zulkey, Claire (1 January 2014). "13 Funny Women to Watch in 2014". Cosmopolitan.
  39. ^ Cepeda, Paola (2019-11-16). "Cristela Alonzo receives Key to the city of McAllen". KGBT. Retrieved 2019-11-16.

External linksEdit