There’s an old saying that makes Gaby Natale cringe every time she hears it.
“It’s used a lot in the Hispanic community,” TV’s self-proclaimed SuperLatina says. “In Spanish, the saying goes, ‘Calladita te ves mas bonita,’ which means, ‘When you’re silent, you’re prettier.’
“I think that’s a horrible message. Ambition, for a woman, is not something that should penalized. Latinas should own their own voice. You should never be afraid to express yourself or pursue your dreams.”
Natale, an up-and-coming Fort Worth-based talk show personality, knows all about making dreams come true.
Seven years ago, this effervescent go-getter recognized a void in the television marketplace. She saw an underserved audience of Hispanic women. So the former news anchor for Univision in Texas developed an interview-and-lifestyle show called SuperLatina.
“A SuperLatina is a woman who fights, a woman who stands up for herself,” Natale explains. “The SuperLatina is the best part of you.”
Originally airing in only one tiny television market, Midland-Odessa, the show has expanded over the years to other cities in Texas and New Mexico and found a large Internet following (more than 25 million views on YouTube).
Now, just one day after the native Argentinian celebrated her first Fourth of July as a U.S. citizen, Natale’s SuperLatina show will make its national debut, airing at 3:30 p.m. Saturday on Vme TV, the Spanish-language sister network to PBS.
This means the show, a six-time Emmy nominee, will suddenly be available in 43 media markets across the country, serving more than 70 million viewers.
When it goes national, the show’s format will emphasize long-form interviews. Typical guests include such Latino personalities as Enrique Iglesias, Don Omar, Prince Royce and Eugenio Derbez.
“Because it is SuperLatina and because we always want to encourage and empower people, we are going to talk about their roads to success,” Natale says. “What were the challenges that they faced? Sometimes you would never imagine the obstacles they had to overcome.”
And Natale knows a thing or two about overcoming obstacles.
The original home for SuperLatina was in a shopping mall in Odessa. The space she was allowed to use there for her studio had previously been reserved to store carpeting.
“When we built our set,” Natale says, “the only condition was that all of the set pieces had to have wheels, because they would need to push everything to the side whenever the carpets had to come and go!”
She relocated to Dallas-Fort Worth in 2009 after SuperLatina went into syndication in Lubbock and then throughout New Mexico.
“When I started this journey, when I quit my job and started my company, I didn’t know how difficult it could be,” Natale says. “But sometimes not knowing the obstacles can be a blessing. If I had somebody telling me all of the reasons that something cannot be done, it would have been paralyzing.
“I might have said, ‘Oh, no, I’m not ready.’ But because I didn’t know, I had nothing to stop me.”
Natale, inspired by the business models created by Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart, had covered many of the basics, mind you. She had drafted a comprehensive business plan. But on other fronts, she threw caution to the wind.
Most start-up TV shows, for example, begin with the making of a pilot episode that’s used in sales pitches. Natale skipped that step and made that first sale with just a PowerPoint presentation.
“The general manager of the station must have been crazier than I was,” she says.
Once she got her foot in the door, however, there was no stopping her.
“People say sometimes that quitting your job and starting your own business is risky,” Natale says. “But I thought, ‘I’ve already done scarier things.’ I came here from Argentina, started fresh in a new country. I was on a work visa and I had to apply three times before I got my green card. It was a long process.
“So starting my own TV show and starting my own company didn’t seem like such a big risk. And what was the worst that could happen? Hopefully this will work, but even if I fail, this is not going to be my only opportunity.
“Maybe it will take time. Maybe I’ll have to change. Maybe I’ll have to think about different concepts. But I’m going to keep working to create these opportunities. Picasso said, ‘Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.’ That is the approach I take.”
It’s worth noting that Natale is still in a shopping mall. But her predominantly pink studio set (“the Barbie house my mother never bought for me,” she jokes) no longer has wheels, an indication that she’s in Fort Worth to stay. She likes it here.
Her office, her production studio and her offshoot marketing business are tucked away among office space at La Gran Plaza.
“We often bring guests to our studio for interviews, so we have different actors and pop singers coming and going, and we do fashion shows, so there are models coming in,” Natale says. “For a while, the people in the other offices were so very curious.
“They would ask, ‘What is going on in that office?’ But now they know that there’s a TV show being made here. Now we’re just another office neighbor.”