How Emily Estefan Is Creating an Inclusive World, One Intersection at a Time (Exclusive)
By Jennifer Drysdale
Emily Estefan has found a "raging party at the intersection of gay and Latino" -- and she wants everyone to feel invited.
"Honestly, I'm a very, very proud Latino, and a very, very proud American. But I think that there are way more spaces for these intersections," the 26-year-old musician tells ET. And she's using her platform to make it happen.
On Red Table Talk: The Estefans, Emily and her mother, Gloria Estefan, as well as Emily's cousin, Lili Estefan, discuss a variety of topics -- sometimes taboo -- in the hopes of creating a more accepting world. The first batch of episodes released last year tackled divorce, mental health, surviving loss and more, including Emily's coming out story.
In that emotional episode, Emily revealed she was suicidal after coming out to her mother, and felt the pressures of trying to navigate her sexuality in the Hispanic community.
"You know, a lot of people say in the Latino community, 'Don't even bother with our parents and our grandparents. They're stuck in their ways,'" shares Emily, who was encouraged by Gloria not to come out to her grandmother, in fear it would affect her health. "That may be true, but we can learn how to have conversations. And that sometimes sparks a lot."
Emily notes how she and her mother were able to recognize the "intense" mother-daughter relationship they had with one another in therapy, and work out their differences and respective pain at the table. She calls being able to tell their story one of the "greatest gifts in life."
"Our dynamic has been strengthened," Emily says of her and her mom. "... That made us even stronger, because it made us face our relationship once again and say, 'OK, we're good, as long as we talk and we communicate.'"
"What I want for people is to feel less alone. And in Latino culture, some of these subjects are still really, really raw," she adds.
Emily mentions how she's been helping a friend of hers who is having difficulty coming out to her family. The singer has also been a source of support for viewers, who have found the inspiration to discuss sexuality within their own circles.
With a GLAAD Media Award nomination and two Emmy nods for Red Table Talk: The Estefans under her belt, Emily is ready to tackle even more issues, with the goal of having a real impact on the culture.
"We're doing an episode on Cuba," she previews of what's ahead in the new batch of episodes dropping Thursday. "I'm really excited. And we're having a conversation about colorism within the Latin community."
"I'm a very proud Latina, but there's so many different, beautiful shades of skin in our Latino and Afro-Latino community. And within one family, you can have children being treated differently by their parents, by the world, just because they're a different color," she continues. "And we see that now more than ever, we need to continue that conversation because there's a lot of racism within our community."
Fans will see that conversation plus several very "personal moments" for Emily, Gloria and Lili when Red Table Talk: The Estefans returns. "That's really what the table is all about," Emily expresses.
On a lighter note, Emily says Gloria owes her "a coupon for 10 therapy sessions" for reveals made about her sex life with Emilio. And while she jokes she had to walk away from the table for those confessions, she admits she's learned a lot from her mother -- at least about managing a relationship in the spotlight. Emily and her girlfriend, Gemeny, will celebrate five years together in December.
"If there's anything that I've learned it's that in relationships, it's not all sunshine and rainbows. And that's where the true love lives, and the strength to say, 'OK, there's nothing wrong, but let's go to therapy and let's learn how to communicate. Let's look at our ugly spots so that we can build something worthwhile here,'" she says. "That's something that I see in my parents. They crack each other up, they're best friends… relationships are possible when you work on them and you don't just give up at the first sign of something wrong."
Emily has also learned how to embrace change -- and the power of "passing down this pride for our [culture]" while still challenging the status quo.
"My mom has a line in one of her songs. It says, 'The only one sure thing is change,'" Emily says, referencing Gloria's 1992 hit, "Always Tomorrow." "The ritual of change is actually the one constant thing in life, [and] it can be pretty cool. I'm constantly learning and growing."
"I want to work on myself more," she declares, explaining her desire to get back into fitness and while also teasing new music on the way. "You know, Red Table Talk always inspires me to keep doing internal work, and that's a beautiful thing you can say when you go to work. So the new era is one of continual growth."