Lili Estefan, “La Flaca” at Univision, showed us her spark and authenticity. We spoke with her about her role as a mother, wife, and TV host. “I have worked hard, but I have also enjoyed my children… and I’m still in love with my husband,” she said. Lili, who has won the hearts of all Hispanics in the United States, keeps good memories from her life in Cuba. “Despite all hardship, I remember that time fondly,” she said.
Memories of the past
What do you remember from Cuba?
Lili Estefan: I lived there until I was 13 years old. And I grew up to my actual size while I was there. I had a great childhood, despite the difficulties. I remember that time fondly. I share that with my children, who tell me: “Yes, we know you didn’t have a phone over there.” But I don’t tell them that to be resentful, but for them to understand a different type of life.
What places in Cuba would you visit, if you could?
LE: I would love to return to Santiago de Cuba, where I am from. I used to live by the Carretera Siboney, across the street from the zoo. I would love to be under the shade of the almond tree that I visited every afternoon with my friends Soledad and Karina. I would love to see my house again, the place where I grew up. And visit Parque Céspedes and Carretera del Morro.
How Cuban are you on your daily life?
LE: I don’t lose my Cuban flavor. Several times a week, I get up at 5:30 am to make Lorenzo, my son, a Cuban coffee with “espumita” (foam). He loves it because “it gives him energy”, as he tells me. He made it today with condensed milk, because we ran out of evaporated milk.
Which Cuban dish do you prepare the best?
LE: I don’t know how to cook. I am not good for that. I can only make “bistec de palomilla” (steak) with onions, olive oil and lime. I can also make meringues, with egg whites and sugar. A friend taught me how to make those.
Being a mother
What kind of mother you don’t want to be?
LE: One who doesn’t recognize change and doesn’t adapt. I don’t want to be the one telling my children what they have to do; they have to learn how to fall and get up again.
What kind of mother are you?
LE: I am a mother that trusts her children. My father always told me: I trust you. And I trust my kids too. I don’t want to force them to do anything. I want them to be the person they want to be. I want to accept them as they are. I’ve always been by their side. I have worked hard, but I have enjoyed them too.
What is the most important value you teach your daughter?
LE: I have motivated Lina, who is about to be confirmed, to get to know the Catholic traditions. My intention is for her to have faith. For her to learn how to pray. I want her to visualize herself doing good things. To be grateful and to forgive. I don’t want her to take things for granted. I want Lina and Lorenzo to learn how to be happy.
Her love life
What do you need to learn from Lorenzo, your husband?
LE: To be on time. Less complicated and less dramatic. I would like to have the bonding he has with his friends. They get together and watch soccer games, or just talk.
What is the secret for success in your marriage?
LE: When I am mad and raise my voice, he remains quiet. I do the same when he is upset. The secret is for one of the two to remain calm. We have kept admiring each other. He talks about me with pride. And I admire and respect him. He is the smartest man I’ve ever met.
How do you spice up your relationship?
LE: I have a peculiar secret. I had my first communion and confirmation when I was 25, shortly before I got married. And my spiritual guide told me “Never, ever lose your modesty.” I have followed that advice. And it has worked for me.
What do you demand the most from your husband?
LE: I am not a demanding person. I am incapable of giving him conditions. He has allowed me to be who I am, and I let him be who he is. That is how we grow together. No constraints, so our relationship flows.
Working with ‘heavyweights’
As far as work, how do you describe Don Francisco?
LE: Don Francisco is a man full of details. He still has many details with me. I worked with him for twelve and a half years. He treats me like a daughter. He is intense with work. It is impossible to catch up to him, even at his age. He remains well and updated. But, he still has some insecurities. Every year he tells me “now they will cancel de show.” But that is just a way to remain connected to his work and innovating. He is a quiet man and shy with those he doesn’t know. But when the lights on the camera go on, he is a different person, the person that we all see.
How different is your current partner, Raul de Molina?
LE: They are quite similar. Raul is also very intense and focused on his work. He doesn’t disconnect from work. He calls me all the time. He is also shy and a bit insecure; but I see that with time, he is enjoying a lot more what he does. “El Gordo” knows how to make a small story into a huge exclusive. He knows how to do his work.
Who has the best sense of humor?
LE: Don Francisco is careful. He knows how to handle humor on the street; he connects with people. On the other hand, Raul is more unpredictable. He gets in trouble frequently by saying the first thing that comes to his mind. I am not saying I want him to change, not at all. He is how he is and that is his essence.
Who is a better dancer?
LE: Don Francisco can dance pretty well; he’s got a great musical ear. Raul is musically deaf. He can’t dance.
About her uncle Emilio
“He is a genious. His brain has a triple processor. He is a visionary, who lives 10 years ahead of his time.”
About Don Francisco and Raul de Molina
“I adore them both. They are on the list of men I admire the most.”
Message from Lili
Dear friends in Colorado,
I find inspiration by keeping my feet on the ground, but my sight on the sky. For me, the secret of happiness is not to have more, but to need less.
Some believe that success is a matter of good luck; but I see that the harder my work and effort, the luckier I am.
Keeping a positive attitude is very important for me. I believe in the power of the mind. And I can assure that you create what you believe.