Comedian Cristela Alonzo says she was paid far less than her white writing partner for the sale of her sitcom “Cristela” to ABC in 2014.
The short-lived series made Alonzo the first Latina woman to create, write, star in and produce her own U.S. network primetime comedy series.
“I got paid $0 for my sitcom pilot. When I sold my show, my white partner got 3 x more money then [sic] me AND an overall deal. I was ‘not ready’ to get one. The name of the show was Cristela,” she wrote in a tweet Sunday.
“I also offered to shoot the show in English/Spanish,” she continued. “I wasn’t the highest paid person on it.”
“Cristela” was canceled after one season in 2015. Now, Alonzo is calling out the discrimination she says she’s faced in the television industry.
“And people wonder why I haven’t come back to TV… The support I had in 2014-2015 was non-existent,” she said in a follow up tweet. “Also, the writers I couldn’t stand on my show that like to take credit for the good parts of it while blaming me for the bad parts are now running another Latino show.”
Alonzo’s writing partner on “Cristela” was Kevin Hench, who at the time had a big hit in Tim Allen’s “Last Man Standing.” The show she is talking about in the second tweet is likely the “Mr. Iglesias,” which Hench created.
It’s possible that Hench got paid more for the sale of “Cristela,” as Alonzo mentioned, as part of his overall deal that would encompass future work. But that doesn’t explain why Alonzo was paid nothing to write the pilot.
ABC and the studio, 20th Century Fox, did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment Monday. TheWrap also reached out to Hench for comment.
Alonzo’s initial tweet was responding to one from The Hollywood Reporter that noted that Lena Dunham “was 23 when she sold #Girls to HBO with a page-and-a-half-long pitch, without a character nor a plot.”
The tweet also drew ire from others who suggest that Dunham’s white privilege may have helped her get a leg up over creators of color who rarely get so lucky.
“I have a masters degree in film and teach film at a top tier university, [and] over twenty five year professional career and I walk into pitches with a fully realized bible pilot and seven season arc, and often times told it’s not enough. But Lena Dunham, cool,” tweeted Amhed Best, who created, wrote, directed and produced his own TV show, “This Can’t Be My Life.”