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Gloria Estefan's Family Launches Their Own 'Red Table Talk'

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

The show "Red Table Talk" gathers multigenerational women of a famous family around a literal red table to talk about life, love, celebrity and lots of stuff in between. It began with Jada Pinkett Smith and her family, which includes husband Will Smith. And now it has expanded with a new installment and one close to my Miami Cuban heart.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "RED TABLE TALK")

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Singing) Talk about it.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: On the series premiere of "Red Table Talk: The Estefans."

GLORIA ESTEFAN: Well, girls, we have never spoken about it publicly.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Gloria Estefan, her daughter Emily, and her niece Lili are now the ones gathering around the red table on Facebook watch, and Gloria and Emily join us now to talk about it. Hola.

EMILY ESTEFAN: Hola.

G ESTEFAN: Hola, how are you?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'm very well. I must say - I'm from Miami. And, Gloria, you know, growing up - I know that you've heard this - you were the music of my life.

G ESTEFAN: Oh, my gosh. Thank you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And, Emily, I saw you play at your mother's Kennedy Center Honors event in D.C. And you are an amazing musician yourself.

E ESTEFAN: Oh, wow. Thank you so much.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And so there is this thing that is not just a red table in this but also a red piano because music, of course.

G ESTEFAN: Yes, indeed. And we will soon hear three performances that were recorded about - actually about my accident. And Emily and I perform together on that. And it was such a thrill for me.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, we should remind our listeners that this accident that you're talking about was when you broke your back on a bus tour.

G ESTEFAN: Yes, 30 years ago. I can't believe it's been that long. It's funny because I - that's the thing that people still ask me about. So to me, it's very fresh. And people are really curious as to how I got through that. They're going to learn a lot of things at that table.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What was that like, Emily, to perform with your mom for this?

E ESTEFAN: Oh, my goodness. I didn't sing until I was 18, and the first person I sang to was my mom. And I was shaking like a leaf. (Imitating lamb) I think I sounded like a lamb because I was so nervous. You know, obviously, I grew in her womb, but other than that, I'm a big fan. So those performances are the hardest for me. Some people are like, but it's your mom. I'm like, yeah, that - those are the most daunting performances.

G ESTEFAN: And you blow me away every time.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: This is a question for both of you. As celebrities, you have to put yourself out there for people to see, and that can be hard when you want to protect yourself and your family. I imagine the parts of your life that are still private are especially precious. So why do this? Why open up your family and talk about these very sort of powerful moments in your life? Gloria, then Emily.

G ESTEFAN: I am a private person. That's just my nature. But at this point in my life and when we got the opportunity and the invitation from Jada, I thought it was a great opportunity to be able to go much deeper with the fans that have been with me all around. I came to this world to be of service. And I studied psychology and communications. So I have been watching everything that's happened with social media with a very interested eye and perspective, and I really wanted to be able to use it for the best possible cause that it can be, which is to connect directly with people. Communication is key. And it is the hardest thing on this planet.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Emily?

E ESTEFAN: What she said - no, just kidding. You know, in a lot of entertainment mediums, you know, we don't have the time to really dive into certain issues, certain people, but we can widen that and widen the people that we're reaching and helping, you know? It wasn't easy for me to think about sitting at the table and, you know, being so raw, you know, with cameras around, you know, with people around that I love so much and people that I don't know and then just sending it out into the world. It's public, and it's invasive, but we're doing it on our terms with the intention of helping.

G ESTEFAN: One funny thing is, I am probably - or I have been, historically, one of the most stoic people...

E ESTEFAN: Oh, my gosh.

G ESTEFAN: ...That - and this thing - I - it could be because, after the loss of my mother, my emotions have been so on the surface and so difficult to mask or cover up. But the bottom line is I kept telling the producers and the editors of the show, good Lord, these people are going to think that we're crybabies. We cry in every damn show.

E ESTEFAN: I don't know how we didn't melt the table with our tears - our mascara-filled tears.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah, it is a lot. I mean, already in the four episodes that have dropped, you've talked about infidelity, divorce, mental health, coming out. Emily, I want to ask you - I've heard Jada Pinkett Smith talk about this - that one of the powers of the red table is that, you know, you get to work this stuff out among the family. And I'm just - you know, I read that you all went to therapy before doing this, and I was wondering what you had to work through.

E ESTEFAN: You know, so much went on, you know, specifically for Lili, her divorce. We lost my grandma. I mean, it's just - you know, it was really, really an incredibly difficult process. And so it was just such an intense range of emotions for all of us that, you know, we lost communication with each other, as families tend to do, you know? My mom and I specifically - you know, we needed to work on our communication and hearing each other. I needed to work on issues of anxiety. I would urge everybody to model a red table in their home and just have a safe space to chat and reflect, you know?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I don't know. I come from a Cuban family. I mean, I - respect to you all, pero, you know...

(LAUGHTER)

G ESTEFAN: Are you scared?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah, I'm scared. Hell yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

G ESTEFAN: Why? Why are you so scared? Well, that's why my son won't come, you know, within 6 feet of the red table. He told me, no, I'm very supportive. No, and by the way, there is no way in hell that we would be doing this show if my mom was still alive.

E ESTEFAN: Oh, yeah. No way.

G ESTEFAN: All right?

E ESTEFAN: No way.

G ESTEFAN: That I can guarantee.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, that makes me feel better.

E ESTEFAN: No way.

G ESTEFAN: Because I would not subject her to this.

E ESTEFAN: Well, also, I feel like she would be on the table once and steal the show, and we would get fired and then, you know...

(LAUGHTER)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I guess my final question is, you know, so many of us struggle communicating with members of our family from other generations. And politics divides us right now, along with a lot of other things. What's your advice? You say everyone should have a red table. How do you start those conversations that might be tough?

G ESTEFAN: Well, we left politics off of it, if you noticed.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah?

G ESTEFAN: That was the one thing we decided not to talk about in this series right now because we wanted to connect.

E ESTEFAN: I think something that's so important is respect as human beings. Politics are not supposed to be, you know, a fight where we're punching each other in the streets and dragging each other down. We're supposed to be having debates about how we're going to run the country that we're all sharing and how we can contribute. Obviously, the same way that we talk about the systems that don't work up until now, like, you know, and how we have to change and reform - there's so much of that that we can't even get to because we need to focus on, you know, being able to communicate with one another, whether it's your family, whether it's your running mate, whether it's your uncle. So if you feel like you're unsafe in a position to, like, have discussions with family members, I would say to avoid it. Unfortunately, sometimes, you know, people get really upset. People get really heated. You know, you can harm your relationships. I personally don't think that anything - you should let anything get to that point.

G ESTEFAN: Exactly. My family's more important than whoever may be in the White House for these four years or the next four years or whoever. I have 12 friends of mine from high school - we call ourselves the dirty dozen. We used to get together once a month at one of our homes. Now we get together once a week on Zoom. And three of the twelve are - have a different political bend than the other nine. So we stay away from that topic because we love each other, and we respect each other. And we may not understand how that - how the other person's thinking or why, but that doesn't change the fact that we love and respect them. So, you know, some things are best left unsaid, that's for sure.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Gloria and Emily Estefan - you can catch them on "Red Table Talk: The Estefans" on Facebook. And we should mention that Facebook is one of NPR's sponsors. Thank you both so very much.

E ESTEFAN: Thank you.

G ESTEFAN: It is our pleasure, Lulu. Thank you for having us. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.