Gloria Estefan is suspicious of the Red Table. “What is it we used to say guys?” she asks her niece, talk show host Lili Estefan, and daughter, musician Emily Estefan, who are gathered on a conference call. “It’s the color of the table!” Lili says, as if accusing a furniture hue of witchcraft. “Or they’re drugging us!” Emily adds. Laughing, Gloria gets the final word. “They’re injecting us with truth serum.”
The thing is: there is something mystical about the Red Table, or maybe at least about the candid, outspoken women who agree to “bring” themselves to it, to use the verbiage the iconic gathering place has earned.
Since 2018, actress Jada Pinkett-Smith, her daughter Willow, and her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris—three generations of women from the same family—have brought themselves to the table for Red Table Talk, the Facebook Watch talk show that launches its first spin-off October 7 with Red Table Talk: The Estefans.
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“When Jada came to me about this, I already thought the show was brilliant,” Gloria says. “Like, innovative and groundbreaking, to be able to actually talk without interruptions, without having to do a soundbite, without having to sell a product.”
To call the conversations that Pinkett-Smith and her family have revealing or unfiltered would be like calling the debates on The View orderly and polite discourse. No other talk show finds its hosts baring their deepest secrets and most vulnerable truths to the depths they have in the series’ three seasons.
They’ve discussed porn addiction, sexuality, racism, and gun violence. In memorable episodes, Gabrielle Union came to the table to hash out a 17-year-old feud with Pinkett-Smith rooted in industry rivalry as Black women; Ellen Pompeo discussed her interracial marriage and white privilege; Leah Remini came on to bury the hatchet over her insinuation that Pinkett-Smith had ties to Scientology; and Jordyn Woods, Kylie Jenner’s best friend, told her side of the story when she was accused of making out with Tristan Thompson, Khloé Kardashian’s ex and the father of her daughter.
In a rarity when it comes to this genre of show, the headline-making gossip is considered an added bonus, not the central mission or reason to watch: that is instead the shocking candor of the Pinkett-Smith family. Of course, occasionally those two attributes collide.
The Red Table has also proved a useful, if uncomfortable tool for discussing the family’s own headline-making gossip, as it was this summer when Pinkett-Smith brought herself and husband Will Smith to the table to discuss bombshell tabloid reports that she had an affair with singer August Alsina, with, Alsina says, Smith’s blessing.
The “entanglement” episode, as it became referred to after Pinkett-Smith comically characterized the relationship—which happened when she and Smith were separated—as “an entanglement,” has been viewed over 35 million times. That makes the very personal and very juicy content of the episode now the first thing on fans’ minds when the Estefans launch their Red Table Talk: The Estefans series Wednesday at 12 pm ET—which is certainly an interesting position to be in.
“I know that you want to know,” Lili says, laughing. “We left our entanglement episode for season 2.”
The women had actually started discussions of a spin-off in the spring, long before the word “entanglement” was on the tip of anyone’s tongue. Asked what she thought about the episode, Gloria says, “My real reaction was, ‘August! Why did you kiss and tell?!’ I mean, come on! But they were honest. They took it on and they discussed it. That was a bomb for them I’m sure. I don’t think they expected that one.”
“Now I want to have them back at the table and find out what happened after,” Lili says. “‘Entanglement 2.’”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this is not the first time Gloria Estefan has been approached to host a talk show. There have been persistent offers throughout almost her entire career, whether it’s hosting her own Cuban-American spin on The Oprah Winfrey Show or Ellen, or bringing that perspective to a View-like panel series. But, unlike other celebrities recruited for those gigs, she had the benefit of knowing Lili’s experience hosting the popular Univision talk show El Gordo y La Flaca for over two decades and the commitment that has required.
She, Lili, and Emily traveled to Pinkett-Smith’s house and watched the family film an episode. They were shocked to see that it really was a long, deep, extended conversation that they were having, just as it appears when it plays on Facebook Watch. They saw that there was no baiting or sensationalizing editing.
If the overwhelming response when someone watches Red Table Talk is that they admire how vulnerable and free the Pinkett-Smith family is when talking about such sensitive issues, the immediate follow-up is, “But I could never be like that with my family.” Yet the Estefans did the opposite. They signed up for just that.
“When Gloria called me, I remembered I said yes right away. ‘Oh my god, it sounds great! I love the show,’” Lili says. “And then after I said yes, I’m like, ‘Oh shit, I said yes.’ Then of course, when we started prepping and talking about it, I’m like, you know, this is the perfect place for me to talk about what happened to me.”
“My real reaction was, ‘August! Why did you kiss and tell?!’ I mean, come on!”
What happened to her was a scandalous divorce from her husband after 25 years of marriage that lit up the tabloids and gossip rags of the Spanish-speaking world. A paparazzo caught her husband with another woman, and the family bought the compromising shots to avoid further embarrassment. Wednesday’s premiere episode will feature the Estefan family discussing the ordeal publicly for the first time, with Lili’s 18-year-old daughter, Lina, also joining them.
The eight-episode season will also see the women discussing sexuality, their personal mental health issues, and loss. Guests will include Gloria’s husband Emilio Estefan, Rosie O’Donnell, Michelle Rodriguez, and Matt Mauser, the widow of Christina Hauser, one of the victims of the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash.
“We have different backgrounds” than the Pinkett-Smiths, Gloria says, explaining how the show, while similar in format and ethos, will be distinctly different. “Unfortunately, no porn addiction here.”
“Or is there?!” Emily laughs.
“La Flaca and I lived the pre-social media years,” Gloria continues, referencing her niece by her talk-show nickname. “The only way that we could get out anything that we felt was through a journalist’s eyes and editing pen. You’ve got to realize that every show and every interview we did, we were filtered and someone else always controlled our narrative and our story. This pulls back the curtain on a lot of moments that people shared with us through the years: my accident, starting over again, divorce, mental health, which is a very important topic right now. The whole purpose of us doing this show is to help heal not just ourselves, but other people with the connection they’re going to make with us as a family.”
One thing that will not be brought to the table: Donald Trump.
We ask how much the women’s conversations engage specifically with politics and the ways in which the administration’s decisions are affecting them as Latinas and immigrants. Emily explains that, outside of a “get out the vote” messaging, they steer clear of politics. But that doesn’t mean she sees the show as apolitical. “Even something as simple as three women sitting at the table and being able to have our opinions heard, you go back a little bit in history that would have been a joke to somebody.”
“Look, there’s only eight episodes in the first season,” Gloria adds. “We wanted to share with everyone the most personal topics that we have, because you have to establish a relationship before someone trusts you enough or cares enough about what you have to say to give you that political space.”
“To tell you the truth, right now, to me, it’s all nauseous,” she continues. “I find myself turning off all the news channels, because it is all the time. I see with my own eyeballs what’s happening. Nobody’s happy about it, and things are being used very divisively in every community, because we are in a very, very difficult and important time.”
Not that there isn’t a lot of spice to look forward to. “Wait until you see us under the table,” Gloria says, laughing. Actress Kate del Castillo brought with her a bottle of tequila when she was a guest on the show. “That’s the only entanglement we had. We had some entanglements with shots of tequila.”