Career Crossroads: Latina Talk Show Host Balances Passion for Journalism with Dream of Acting and Music-Making

Maria Laria from America TeVe

It’s not every day that you get to shape history.

That’s exactly what Cuban-American journalist María Laria did in 1988, as the first woman to create, produce, and host a Spanish-language talk show in the United States.

Laria became a household name for Latinos. Today, she’s on the air with her current show, Arrebatados, where guests debate controversial political and social issues on America TeVe.

How Times Have Changed

Hispanic media will find entry into the industry much easier.

This wasn’t always the case. Thirty years ago, it was a different story.

Laria admits while journalism was an “enjoyable and exciting” journey, it was an “uphill battle” in the 1980s.

Show content also has changed. Laria reveals that her shows in LA and Europe discussed more risqué topics than on her present show.

“People are more prude and proper now,” she said. “Maybe everyone wants to be a bit more politically correct. But I always push the envelope. I think outside of the box, never inside.”

maria laria

Beyond Journalism

Outside of the newsroom, Laria is an actress and concert pianist.

Unfortunately, she credits her journalism career as hindering a future in acting or music.

“Journalism is my passion, it’s in my veins,” Laria says. “I have had to refuse a symphony piano concerto which is my dream, Cesar Frank Symphonic Variations, since I could not do it well unless I dedicated myself to practicing 24/7. I cannot do that with my TV show.”

She’s also been offered a film, but was forced to cancel her participation because of last-minute rescheduling changes.

That film was nominated in Cannes.

The reality hurt, Laria said. But ultimately, she’s OK with her decision to stick with TV.

“My extreme sense of responsibility led me to stick to my main duties,” she said.

What’s Next

Laria has several projects in play, including translating her novel, Fear of Love. She’s also got a book in the works about her life philosophy.

Laria also has a new TV format that she’s toying with, but hasn’t fully developed. (And she’s keeping it under wraps until it’s mapped out.)

Finally, she’s also considering a new — and scary — musical project.

“I love dangerous and scary projects,” she said. “We’ll see if it pans out.”

So is there retirement in her future? Possibly.

“My dream is to retire in Tibet or Santorini or Mykonos, change my identity, and start all over again,” she said, laughing.

Maria Laria's tips for how to be a successful talk show host

Have an interesting story to share about your media or blogging career?  The Beyond Bylines’ Career Crossroads series features stories and job advice for journalists and bloggers from journalists and bloggers. Tell us your story by emailing [email protected].

Jessica Alas is Multicultural Audience Director at PR Newswire. Follow her at 

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