'Texicanas' star Penny Ayarzagoitia says Bravo's latest show got 'backlash' for its casting (Exclusive)
The latest addition to Bravo's slate of addictive reality TV gems is "Texicanas," which follows a group of women with Mexican heritage as they fight, love, party and bond in the city of San Antonio, Texas.
At the center of the show is Penny Ayarzagoitia, who narrates the show's first season, which premieres on Tuesday, May 7. Penny was born in the United States, grew up in Mexico and has lived in San Antonio for two decades now, and she says that the show gives a "more cultural" view on a group of women than, say, any of the "Real Housewives" franchises do.
"We're not only highlighting how we adapt Mexican customs to our families, but also how we were raised and how we adapted to living in the U.S.," Penny explained to AOL's Gibson Johns during a recent phone interview. "It's also about how we have to go with the times, still doing things a little differently from what our parents did growing up."
In many ways, "Texicanas" (as well as Bravo's Mexico-based "Mexico Dynasties" that premiered earlier this year) couldn't be coming at a more crucial time, when President Trump is fighting for a border wall and the conversation around immigration has never been more divisive. At the end of the day, though there may be some customary and cultural differences between all of us, we aren't that different from one another -- and Penny hopes that's what "Texicanas" can highlight for its viewers.
"This is an important show that proves that not all Mexicans are the same," she told AOL.
Additionally, the cast has faced some pushback from other communities in San Antonio, who criticized the show for casting women who weren't born in the Texan city, which is predominantly hispanic.
"I don’t focus on the negative. To me it's not offensive, but we’ve gotten a little bit of, 'They’re not even from here, why would they get a show?'" Penny explained. "My defense is that I’ve been here almost 20 years, and I do call San Antonio my home. I wouldn’t tell my parents that, but… that’s the backlash that I've heard. Some San Antonians are offended without the people actually being born here."
"There are all walks of life in San Antonio. It’s predominantly hispanic, but obviously we have all different types of people in this city, but it does really fit into San Antonio to do this kind of show," she added. "The city is great because there are the trendy parts, the parts where it’s good to raise a family, and the city life. It’s a big mix of a lot. It’s wonderful for everybody."
And, at the end of the day, so is "Texicanas." Though the show has yet to even premiere, Penny recalled a recent run-in in the San Antonio area during which she realized that Bravo's demographic goes way beyond what she assumed when she signed on to appear on the show.
"Now the word is out, I’ve had people approach me, and the demo is huge. You’d probably think it's mainly the ages between 18 and 40, or so, but I went to the lake for Easter and I had maybe 10 people come up to me and be like, "You’re Penny from Texicanas!" Out of those 10 people, half of them were men in, like, their 60s. I thought it was the cutest thing. Isn’t that funny? They say their wife loves those shows and that's why they watch, and I’m like, 'Uh huh…'"
"Texicanas" premieres on Bravo on Tuesday, May 7, at 10 p.m. EST