Performing Arts

‘We are not drug traffickers, corrupt or criminals,’ says Poncho de Anda, Mexican actor

Poncho de Anda
Poncho de Anda Cortesía

With his usual enthusiasm, and convinced his work will impact the lives of his TV audience, Poncho de Anda is returning to Univisión to host a reality show about surprise family reunions.

The program La gran sorpresa — The Big Surprise — filmed aboard a Carnival cruise ship as it sails around the Caribbean, will be broadcast at 8 p.m. Sundays starting this Sunday, Jan. 14.

“Our goal is to reunite families separated for whatever reason, be that immigration, health, economic or any fight they had at some point,” said De Anda, 43.

The first program will feature Berta, a Mexican woman who had to separate from her husband for five years as she was treated for cancer in Los Angeles.

“The program not only highlights family values. The fact that it happens aboard a cruise ship that travels the world is another of its big attractions,” said De Anda.

He said that during the filming, he realized “the pain caused by separation” began to disappear as the people reconnected with each other.

“I know what separation is. While I was in Mexico working for TV Azteca for the past two years, I could only spend weekends in Miami with my wife and children,” he said. “And although I was doing well in my career, I felt a very deep pain, the same pain that millions of other Hispanic families in the United States feel because they cannot see their relatives.”

De Anda has been married to painter Lina Amashta for 15 years and they have two children, Valeria, 8, and Daniel Alfonso, six.

De Anda was not alone on the maritime adventure. While he remained aboard the cruise ship, fellow cast members Karina Banda, Francisca Lachapel, Maity Interiano and Ligia Uriarte went to cities to pick up the other relatives and brought them to the ship.

The host said that unlike most television programs that focus on bad news, scandals and violence, his program “empowers the Latino family with healthy and constructive entertainment and makes it clear that Hispanics are not drug traffickers, corrupt or criminals.”

De Anda, who studied at the Intercontinental University in Mexico City and the University of Quebec, has been working on television for more than two decades.

Among his Telemundo credits are the Billboard Awards for Latin music, the Miss Universe pageant and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. He also worked on Univision's Despierta América, Dale con ganas and the Rose parade. He's currently hosting the technology program Mundo sin Net for the HITN cable channel.

Commenting on the top events of 2017, De Anda referred to the recent wave of sexual harassment accusations against leading personalities in the United States.

“The victims had the courage to denounce the abuses. The women have marked a ‘before’ and ‘after’ in the history of labor relations and created an important precedent for the future,” he said. “I hope Hispanic women have the courage to go public with their stories. That would strengthen their voice and make the abusers think twice.”

While he waits for the public's reaction to La Gran Sorpresa, he's been preparing for a conference on the power of women in social networks that will be part of the South by SouthWest festival in Austin, Texas, in March.

And what does he think about the future of entertainment journalism at a time when famous people are publishing their own news on social networks?

“We have to admit that the world of news has changed. But that does not mean that the work of journalists has ended. Like the rest of journalists, it is up to us to keep digging down on the news until the end. I am one of those who believes that, today like never before, journalism is passing through its best period,” he said.

‘La Gran Sorpresa’ is a co-production by Univision Communications Inc. and Carnival Corporation & plc. Will air on Sundays at 8 p.m. starting on Jan. 14, Univision.

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