ABC has canceled ‘The Baker and the Beauty,’ but the stars and fans of the show aren’t giving up. Lisa Vidal spoke to HL about taking a stand to save the show.
When The Baker and The Beauty was canceled by ABC, those that loved the show were left devastated. The romantic dramedy focused on Daniel and Noa’s epic love story and the ups and downs of the Garcia family. The cast featured Nathalie Kelley, Victor Rasuk, Lisa Vidal, Carlos Gómez, Belissa Escobedo, David Del Rio, and Dan Bucatinsky. The cancellation of The Baker and the Beauty means another Latinx-led series will no longer be on the air.
Since the show’s cancellation, a fan has started a Change.org petition to save the series. HollywoodLife talked EXCLUSIVELY with Lisa, who plays Mari Garcia, about her feelings regarding the cancellation. While it’s disappointing, Lisa admitted it’s a “familiar let down” because she feels shows like The Baker and The Beauty aren’t given a “fair chance.” She also talked about her famous friends lending their support to save the show and the lack of representation on network television.
What was your reaction when you learned that The Baker and The Beauty hadn’t been picked up for a second season?
Lisa Vidal: It was a huge disappointment and a familiar let down for me because I don’t feel that shows like ours are given a fair chance and are set up to succeed. For someone who is consistently trying to advocate for change and new thinking and a new way of handling things like this, it was a huge disappointment.
Why do you think networks, more so with networks than with cable and streaming, aren’t giving shows like this a second chance?
Lisa Vidal: Well, I think it’s because they never have. When we are set up intentionally by networks to succeed and given that extra special attention and marketing and time placement… When it’s really thought out and shows like ours are truly supported by networks that want us to find our legs, find our audience, and they are putting 150 percent into making that happen, then viewers will be used to seeing shows like ours. It opens up their minds to be more diverse in their thinking and what they watch and their familiarity with something like our show where we’re just a family that just happens to be Latin. It’s still a very universal story. It’s just that we have a little bit of a different culture in certain areas and some of us have brown skin. It’s just that thing of if you’re not used to seeing it, you’re not really setting it up to succeed. There’s the thing of, well, we tried and it didn’t succeed. It’s something I believe that has been perpetuated over time in general, and I just really feel like when it comes to primetime I think they need to follow a little bit of the cable and streaming network example of allowing the show to find its feet and really getting behind something that’s super different.
How do you feel about the Change.org petition that was started to try and save the show?
Lisa Vidal: I was super excited about it because I was discussing it with my fans on Twitter, and we came up with the idea to start a petition because I was involved in helping get the petition out for One Day At A Time. I had that idea and I just thought we need to fight, and the fans wanted to fight. They started the petition, and it just went from there. I reached out to Nat Kelly, the producers, and the rest of the cast and said, “Listen, this is what we need to do. We need to get as much support from our celebrity friends. We need to get the word out there, and we need to fight. Because this show deserves a fighting chance.” We checked all the boxes. We had 8 weeks on the air, a poor time slot, and a weak lead-in that didn’t really allow us the platform that we needed to be more visible to the audiences that wouldn’t be watching our show on a regular basis in a different kind of circumstance. We’re not a 10 p.m. show. We’re a family show. I can’t even tell you how many of our followers are non-Latino. The girl that started our petition is a non-Latina person. Thank God my Latin community has jumped on board, and they’re making some noise because, for once, we had a show on primetime with an all-Latino cast, where 60 percent of the writers’ room was Latino, our whole crew was Latino, and we shot Puerto Rico. It was just this beautiful family. They were non-stereotypical, non-violent, and not cartel members. We were a functional, loving, hard-working, Americanized immigrant Cuban family. The fact that our show was so universal and so relatable, there was no reason to cancel it actually.
Your famous friends like Kerry Washington, Eva Longoria, and Zoe Saldana have been chiming in to save The Baker and the Beauty. How does it feel to have their support?
Lisa Vidal: It feels so great to have their support. So many of my personal girlfriends have jumped on board, including Roselyn Sanchez. It feels so great because I feel like that’s true leadership. When you use your platform and your voice for something this important about diversity, inclusion, and how representation matters. If we as a Black and Brown community don’t use our platform for that, which is at the forefront of our nation right now, it’s sort of cowardly not to do that. So I am grateful that we have these leaders, that we have these strong voices taking a stand for our show and saying representation matters. Because when you have a show that’s as good as ours that, by the way, held a steady number. It was not an embarrassing number. It was a pretty damn good number. With a lot of the trash that’s on television as it is, we held pretty darn good numbers. We never lost our audience, and we grew. When we had the 9 p.m. time slot for our finale, our numbers grew. Of course they were going to grow. We’re not a 10 p.m. show.
What is the next step after this in terms of getting the show a second season on another network or another streaming service?
Lisa Vidal: Well, the beautiful thing is that the petition is still growing. We’re at over 140,000 now. I know that they’re out shopping to streaming networks, and we’re just praying that those streaming networks see the demand and the love for our show and the importance to keep a show like ours on the air. We’re hoping that one of these networks is willing to use their platform to show how powerful it is when you give diversity a chance. It’s not like we’re some crappy show. We’re a darn good show. It’s going to take one of these networks saying, “Hey, we want that show. This is an important show, especially because it’s a feel-good show in these difficult times, and the audience seems to love it. Let’s give this a shot.” And people making enough noise, especially the fans. We’ve already surpassed our numbers on these signatures from any other show that’s been picked up by another network. We’ve gotten more signatures than any other show.
Do you see the tide shifting in a positive way at all when it comes to shows celebrating diversity and inclusion getting on the air?
Lisa Vidal: I see tides shifting on streaming networks. I think there needs to be more of a tide. But it’s weird. There are certain moments in time in my career — because I’ve been in this for years now — where I felt like Black and Brown was more popular than it is now on television and in films. It’s almost like we take a few steps backward somehow. I don’t know how that happens, and then we have to push again to move forward. It’s just unbelievable to me that we’re in 2020, and we’re still talking about this. It’s still an issue and a problem. It needs to be more than a tide. It needs to be a tsunami as far as I’m concerned.
Was has this experience with The Baker and the Beauty and playing Mari meant to you?
Lisa Vidal: Mari is a beautiful mother. She is a loving mother. She is a strong mother. She’s a fierce mother. She’s functional. She’s vulnerable. She’s layered. She’s a businesswoman. She’s a homemaker. She’s still hot and sexy for her man. She’s a disciplinarian. She motivates her family. I want to see that mom on television. So for me, it was an exciting role to play because it’s the kind of mom that I want to watch and that I want to represent and that has touched so many people and made them feel like, wow, my mom’s like that or my aunt was like that or my grandma was like that.
One of the show’s best episodes was when Natalie comes out to her family. Mari wasn’t initially accepting of Natalie, and I loved watching the evolution of their relationship and seeing them come together again. I felt like that was so relatable.
Lisa Vidal: I felt like it needed to be honest. I had a talk with Dean [Georgaris]and the writers about it. I said that Mari is an evolved woman. She has to have an honest reaction to this. It can’t be some stupid, stereotypical religiosity of her worried that her daughter is going to burn in hell. She’s not that mother. She’s not that woman. She’s not that person. This has to be, honestly, about the disconnect that she feels with her daughter, that something so intimate would be foreign to her or she wouldn’t privy to it. Being a mother of three, I know how that feels, not knowing when something’s going on with one of the kids. I said that it has to be about Mari not being able to protect her daughter because she’s so protective. She just wants her family to be okay. So that’s what this needs to be about, and her coming to terms with not being able to protect Natalie every moment of the day and how can she fix that disconnect. A lot of my friends who are part of the LGBTQ community were like, “Oh my god, Lisa, that storyline that was my mom.” Or they felt like they were Natalie. It was very honest and very relatable. I feel like that’s what our show also does. We deal with today’s issues as a family, and it’s a platform I feel that we can grow and just tell these beautiful family stories. There are so many reasons why this show should be picked up and have a great future.
What is the message that you want to send to fans who have supported this show every step of the way?
Lisa Vidal: I always say and I keep saying and I’ll say it again how grateful I am for the fans of this show because they’re, first of all, the best fans I’ve ever seen. They are fighters, and I love how they are embracing their power, their voice, and how they’re fighting for this show. They are determined, and the least I can do is say a big thank you and reply to them and talk to them and validate them because they’re amazing. They’re rock stars. I tell them all the time that they are rock stars because they are, and it just warms my heart completely how dedicated they are. I just want to hug each and every one of them.