Exclusive: Cristela Alonzo Takes Us Through the Return of Legends of the Hidden Temple
Legends of the Hidden Temple is back after almost twenty years since the original series ended on Nickelodeon in 1995.
This new version will air on the CW on October 10 with a twist—competitors are adults, not kids; the competition takes place in the jungle, not a live studio with an audience, and its legendary host, Cristela Alonzo.
The Mexican American comedian spoke with People Chica in an exclusive interview about her new role, representing Latin culture, and the fun she's having.
"I have to be honest with you; I never thought I would get a chance to host a show like this—especially Legends of the Hidden Temple—because I grew up watching it," she admits. "It's a competition show; I love that I'm a Latina, and I get to host the show; that's pretty cool…I always love to have opportunities to make sure that diversity is happening and that we get to see more of each other on-screen."
The remake is based on the game show by Scott A. Stone, Stephen R. Brown, and David G. Stanley that was inspired by Nintendo's "The Legend of Zelda" and the "Indiana Jones" movie franchise. It will preserve original elements, including the giant Mayan talking head, "Olmec," original team names "Purple Parrots," "Blue Barracudas," "Orange Iguanas," "Red Jaguars," "Silver Snakes," and "Green Monkeys."
"The show still has the same format. Now it's for adults instead of kids, which means two things: it's bigger, and you get dirtier," she says. "The first version was done inside a studio in front of an audience; this time, you're in a jungle outdoors. Now we can go do these challenges—It's really fun, big scale, it's a chance for adults to be kids."
To win the $25,000, five teams must cross a moat, answer trivia questions, enter Olmec's Temple, avoiding the Temple Guards, retrieve a lost treasure, and return it to its rightful owner.
"This is a show that makes you know that you can do it too. With a lot of competition shows, you see people skilled at doing things you might not do. A great singer, a great athlete…you know they work out every day to do this," Alonzo says. "Legends of the Hidden Temple is really about being determined. Anybody can go through the physical challenges, anybody can answer those questions, because it's not just about being athletic or smart, it's about being everything."
In addition to its competition component, the show pays tribute to Mayan culture and history, which resonated with Alonzo's Mexican roots.
"We had a Mayan expert come in who oversaw the entire production to make sure that we were authentic, but also being a Latina, a lot of the legends kind of speak to me," she says. "It's been very cultural in the way that we all have stories, my family has stories about beings, like legends, stories of people you've never met, and all do incredible things. For me, it's kind of like hanging out at a party with a family where everybody has a story to tell."
Alonzo has been pivotal in representing Latin culture throughout her career. In 2014, she made history as the first Latina to create, produce, and star in her own network sitcom, "Cristela," on ABC. In 2017, she became the first Latina lead in a Disney Pixar film through her voice interpretation of "Cruz Ramirez" in Cars 3.
"As a host, I get to make sure everybody has a good time, and let me tell you, in my family—our job is to make sure everybody has a good time—and for me, it's just having that personality that says 'you know what? Yes, teams are competing for $25,000, but a lot of it is about having fun," she laughs. "People want to have fun, and right now, the time that we're living in this is what people need: an hour a week to escape from reality and just watch things that are fun and remind that they can chase a childhood dream because it's never too late."
Aside from comedy and hosting Legends of the Hidden Temple, Alonzo advocates for immigration, universal healthcare, and lower-income communities working with diverse organizations, including the Special Olympics Texas, Planned Parenthood, as a board member of LUPE, and advisory board member for Define American.
"I'm a first-generation Mexican-American. I come from a mixed-status family where half of us were documented, and half of us were undocumented," she says. "For me to be able to live this kind of life, my family always talks about it being thanks to my mom who came here looking for us to have a chance."