By Lynette Carrington / Photos by Claudia Johnstone / Hair and makeup: Angela Waters / Wardrobe Styling: Elyse Johnson
Location: Mountain Shadows Resort and Mountain Shadows Resort condominiums, www.mountainshadows.com
Nearly every child dreams of the kind of job they will have when they are an adult. For Kristina Guerrero, her dreams were big, and she overcame odds that were perhaps stacked against her during childhood. Ultimately, her success was written in the stars in the most literal sense.
Guerrero is the host on pop culture and entertainment show The List that films here in the Valley, airs on KNXV Channel 15 in Arizona, and is syndicated in nearly 50 markets in the U.S. Guerrero’s career has taken her several places, but she grew up in a small farming town in the state of Washington as one of five children.
Her hometown was rife with poverty and not much in the way of opportunities – being on welfare and food stamps was just a part of life. “I desperately wanted something better for my life,” Guerrero says. “My mom was a single mom, and my father was an alcoholic and in jail most of my life. We struggled a lot.”
When she was five years old, Guerrero knew she was destined for something different than most kids. “While other kids were watching cartoons, I was watching Entertainment Tonight, and Mary Hart was my hero,” she says. “Early on, there was a God-given desire to succeed and to be driven. I felt that Hollywood was calling my name and that was where I was meant to be. My mom once gave me this nugget of encouragement – that I could be anything that I wanted. I took that nugget and I just went for it.”
Watching her mom single-handedly raise five kids while taking public assistance had a profound impact. “It gave me an incredible work ethic. If I didn’t want to live that kind of life, I knew I was going to have to work really hard to get out of it. It also showed me the kind of strength a woman can have in order
to survive, protect her family, and take care of herself.”
Armed with undaunting tenacity, when Guerrero moved to Hollywood to pursue her dream, she felt she had nothing to lose.
She earned an academic scholarship and attended the University of Southern California. Even in college, Guerrero was already working tirelessly toward her goal. “As soon as I got to USC, I knew in order to be great in front of the camera, I had to be great behind the camera,” Guerrero says.
During college, she interned and paid close attention as she did everything from fetching coffee to handling scripts, learning everything she possibly could behind the scenes. She soon started writing and producing as well as interviewing celebrities. “Immediately after college, I had a wealth of knowledge and this tenacity to get my foot in the door and not take ‘no’ for an answer.”
One big opportunity that Guerrero found on her own accord was as co-host of The Rub, a multicultural show on CTV that began in 2004 and ran for a few years. “With that, I was able to get an agent who sent me to Access Hollywood,” says Guerrero, who was only a year out of college. “It was all divinely intended for me. It’s not supposed to happen that quickly and everything just started falling into place.”
After that, she moved to San Antonio, Texas, to host a lifestyle morning show. It was there that she truly honed her craft. “I learned how to hold a show and learned to drive a show. I did that for three years with the intention of always returning to Hollywood because I wanted to be on red carpets.” Upon that return, she landed at Inside Edition where she remained for almost a year.
“E! called and by the time I was 27, I was a correspondent for E! News, which was the dream,” explains Guerrero, who was the first Latina host for the show, spending six years on it interviewing major stars, including Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock.
She singles out George Clooney as her favorite celebrity interview so far because he treated her like an old friend, put her at complete ease, and spoke authentically. “He made me feel like I was the only person that mattered in that moment,” Guerrero says. In 2014, while at E!, Guerrero was nominated for an Emmy in the Outstanding Entertainment News Program category.
Behind the glitz and glamour, living in Los Angeles was a grind, although Guerrero didn’t realize it immediately. “I didn’t know it until I had a baby. When you live in Los Angeles, it’s a lifestyle,” says Guerrero, noting the hectic pace of LA life.
A few years ago, her agent called with the opportunity at The List in Phoenix, and Guerrero saw it as a way to take a proverbial fresh breath away from the craziness that can be La La Land.
Although Guerrero initially thought of splitting time between Los Angeles and Phoenix, she and her husband – writer and producer Gibby Cevallos – decided they wanted to live in the Valley along with their young son. “When my agent first sent me to Phoenix, I wasn’t sure what to expect,” Guerrero says. “I packed up my family, moved to [the Valley], and absolutely fell in love! We just found there is no reason to go back to LA, unless absolutely necessary.
“I love the community element, and I love that people sit on their front porches and wave to their neighbors,” Guerrero continues. “I love to see kids on their bikes, and we can walk to our neighbor’s house and watch the kids play in their front yard. I also love that there is parking at the grocery store,” she adds with a laugh.
Adding to her already impressive repertoire, Guerrero has also worked as a producer on two of Eva Longoria’s short ESPN documentaries, including ¡Go Sebastien Go!, which had its premiere at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival. “These were not necessarily about sports, but things that culturally happened around sports that really made a difference,” Guerrero says. “I connected with Eva because she and my husband have been friends for many years, and my husband is also a writer and producer. She called him and said, ‘There’s this amazing story, and I would love for you to come and produce on it.’ I looked at him and said, ‘I want to produce on it.’ A little bit of nepotism goes a long way, I guess.”
Most recently, Guerrero has co-created and co-written, along with Cevallos, her first TV pilot script for Adulting, which is loosely based on Guerrero’s life with her girlfriends and their chaotic world. “The goal of my career has certainly been hosting, and it’s what I love to do,” Guerrero says. “One of the other things I want to do is be able to write and produce TV shows.” Currently, the script is being shopped around, and she is hopeful to make that pilot made one day.
“What I’ve found is that life is unpredictable, and while I might have an idea of what I want for my future, the divine plan for me is usually way cooler,” Guerrero says.
The new season of The List begins Sept. 10 at its new 3 p.m. time slot. Learn more about Guerrero and her career at www.iamkristinaguerrero.com.