When Gaby Natale looks back and connects the dots of her own life story, she sees a thread uniting her experiences. “As a journalist, as an immigrant, as an author, as a speaker, the commonality is a story of breaking barriers,” she says.
The Argentina-born author, entrepreneur and popular SuperLatina TV show host and executive producer calls this breaking of barriers part of the “pioneer spirit.” She often says that being a pioneer is the story of her own life.
“As a journalist, I am the first Latina to win three daytime Emmys back-to-back,” she explains. “As an author, I am the first Latina author published by the Leadership Division of HarperCollins, and as a speaker, way, way too many times I am either the only woman or the only Latina or the only woman of color, and for sure the only one with this accent.”
‘From the carpet warehouse to the red carpet’
Natale moved to the U.S. after earning a master’s degree in journalism in her native Argentina, which had fallen into an economic crisis. Following a short stint with TV Azteca in Mexico, she took a job as a news anchor with Univision in Texas. In her book, The Virtuous Circle, she describes the “high profile and low pay” work of small-market anchoring as well as the four-year process to obtain residency she and her husband endured.
That’s when the pair decided to start their own business, beginning with a TV show dedicated to the Latino audience. She took a teaching job at the University of Texas to make ends meet, and in December of 2007 the two launched SuperLatina out of a carpet warehouse in Odessa, Texas with the help of a local TV station.
“From the Carpet Warehouse to the Red Carpet” (parts one to three) is the catchy title she gives in her book for what came next. While not a completely straight line, her path led to wider renown and success, including historical consecutive daytime Emmys for Outstanding Daytime Talent in a Spanish Language Program (2016 and 2017) and Outstanding Entertainment Program in Spanish (2016).
“So many times, we don’t put ourselves, our talent, our work or whatever out there just because we want to protect ourselves from rejection,” she notes. “The moment we change our relationship with rejection is the moment we expand our possibilities.”
“Your most creative work will never come as a by-product of telling yourself something awful or telling yourself that you’re undeserving of good things in this life.”
Leaders come in all forms, according to Gaby Natale
Believing in yourself, not fearing rejection and celebrating your uniqueness are all key themes in Natale’s work as an author, host and motivational speaker. Leaders, or pioneers, she insists, “come in all forms, shapes, sizes, ages, genders and also accents, because we can all sound different. And we all bring value to wherever we are.”
For The Virtuous Circle, she interviewed Latino and other groundbreakers to find lessons in overcoming adversity and achieving dreams. “Pioneers are not extraordinary people. They are ordinary people who chose to see themselves and the world in an extraordinary way, and in that shifting consciousness is where the trajectory of their life changes.”
It’s an empowering message that might explain the emotional reaction people often have to Natale’s inspirational speeches. Recorded videos of her talks, including a TEDx Talk and a range of corporate and conference speaking engagements, show people standing, laughing and applauding, arms in the air.
She describes audience members coming up to her in tears after hearing her speak, relieved to finally see someone who looks or sounds like them on a big stage, in a leadership position.
Moving the world forward
Yet Natale believes her message of embracing your uniqueness, being comfortable in your own skin and knowing that you bring value and a fresh perspective to wherever you are is “universal.” It’s applicable not just to Latinas but to “people from all walks of life.”
“It takes a lot of work to do the inner work, and it’s never-ending sometimes,” she admits. “But to do that work is so worth it because, whatever you do, you’re going to have a much larger impact. And there’s nothing that’s going to connect in a more powerful way than something that comes from a place of truth.”
In fact, changes happen when people do the inner work, push themselves outside of their comfort zones and open themselves up to “the possibility of doing something no one like you has done before”—at whatever scale, personal or public. If we are satisfied with emulating what’s already being done, then the status quo becomes our “best case scenario.”
“Every time you choose to pioneer, you move the world forward,” Natale is fond of saying. As she connects the dots of her own life story, she continues to work in that direction.
5 questions for Gaby Natale
Q&A has been edited for clarity and length.
Q: What is one achievement you’re most proud of?
A: My resilience, because I had to adapt very fast to a lot of changing environments.
Q: One piece of advice you’d give other women?
A: I would tell them that you probably should charge more. Don’t be afraid to use your voice. And start using sunblock when you are very young.
Q: One living woman you look up to?
A: I like Jane Fonda. I like Oprah. I like Dolores Huerta.
Q: One historical woman you look up to?
A: I like eclectic women. I like women who have a mix of everything, and they really don’t fit completely in every category. I like Frida Kahlo. María Félix—she was a superstar in the Golden Age of Mexican movies. Tita Merello—she broke barriers in the male-dominated world of tango.
Q: What is one message you would tell your younger self?
A: I would say trust more in your capabilities. You may not have the answer now, but you have the tools to figure it out.
Photo courtesy of Gaby Natale
Jennifer Green has been writing about the entertainment industry for more than two decades, and her work (archived at filmsfromafar.com) has appeared in a variety of international publications and websites. She splits her time between the US and Spain, and when she's not teaching or spending time with her family, she can be found in front of a movie screen.