Tag Archives: Maria Canals Barrera

From ‘Wizards’ to ‘Cristela,’ Maria Canals Barrera Keeps Priorities Straight

MARIA CANALS-BARRERAHollywood can be very hard on couples, as anyone who has seen “A Star is Born” — any version — can readily attest. However, tackling the challenges of husband and wife dual acting careers is all in a day’s work for Maria Canals and David Barrera, who have been married for 15 years and are the parents of two daughters, Bridget, 10, and Madeleine, 8.

Maria, best known for her 106-episode run on the Disney Channel’s “Wizards of Waverly Place,” returns to the series game Friday, Oct. 10, playing the sister of breakout comedy star Cristela Alonzo in ABC’s new “Cristela.” She was up for the series with her husband. She got the job. He got a couple of callbacks, but ended up not being cast. Still, he’s very supportive, she says.

“He works all the time. He’s very fulfilled. It would have been fun to work together, but it’s OK,” says Maria, whose series spouse is being played by Carlos Ponce. She adds, “We’ve been up for husband and wife and boyfriend and girlfriend before, and sometimes we’ve gotten it.”

When it’s noted that some couples couldn’t handle such tricky ego territory, she is quick to shoot back, “I would question their priorities if they couldn’t handle it. I mean, we’re a team. We see things very much as a team. He works a lot. He just had a great big juicy guest star role on the first episode of this season of ‘Big Bang Theory.'”

In fact, David, whose credits range from big screen roles including Gunnery Sgt. Ray “Casey Kasem” Griego in “Generation Kill” to numerous TV gigs, was possibly better known to Cristela Alonzo at the outset of her sitcom’s casting than was Maria.

“The funny thing is she’s from the same small town in Texas that my husband is from,” notes the actress, referring to hamlet of San Juan in Hidalgo County. “They even attended the same high school, albeit 10 years apart. My husband was like the small town big star — everybody in that tiny town knows of David Barrera, the famous actor in Hollywood. Now it’s Cristela: ‘Oh, wow Cristela is our girl! She’s doing so great.’

“So, she knew who he was, she knew of him and knew I was his wife and about ‘Wizards’ and all of that.

She told me that she told the casting lady to make sure to bring us in because we’re a husband and wife team.”

Maria recalls that she and her new on-camera sister clicked immediately. “I did not know her personally before, but it was something that instantly felt great. It was so much fun — she’s so much fun to play off of, she’s easy to love like a sister. We both have sisters in real life, so we get the sister thing, how the sisters interact, how they keep bringing up things from the past.”

“Cristela” could have been even more of a Barrera family affair. Her elder daughter is in the “Cristela” pilot. “It was so much fun. The part of the kid was a recurring character. And then when the show got picked up, it became a regular. My daughter said, ‘Mom, I love doing the show, but I don’t want to miss middle school.’

“I said, ‘You know what? You’ll only have sixth grade once in your life. You can always do a show’ — because she’s really talented. So she chose school! Let me tell you, we were very blown away,” notes Maria with pride.

She keeps in touch with her former series daughter, Selena Gomez. She keeps in touch with all of her former “Wizards” family, in fact.

“We don’t see each other that often because we’re all doing so many different things, but we do talk, we do connect. I just connected with Jennifer (Stone). I saw David DeLuise recently. I see David Henrie. I was at the premiere of his film — he had a short film he wrote and directed that was terrific. I see Jake (T. Austin). And I do see Selena a little bit, but it’s been several months because she’s been so busy. We all stay connected, we support each other, we text,” she says. “It was a very special thing we had there. We’re grateful for it and we’re grateful for each other.”

Maria reports that she’s reunited with former occasional “Wizards of Waverly Place” director Victor Gonzalez, who’s been directing “Cristela.” And Peter Murrieta, a former writer-producer on “Wizards,” works on her new series, too. “It’s a small, small world,” she says.

So far she is having a blast on “Cristela.” “I love doing sitcoms with a live audience. There’s nothing like it. I love interacting with the people out there. It’s exciting to laugh with the audience. And it’s a family show, which is unusual and wonderful,” she adds. “You can watch with your kids and not flinch because of something highly inappropriate.”

Perhaps David Barrera will come in for a guesting some time?

Maria laughs. “Of course!”

Maria Canals Barrera: From Emotional ‘Wizards’ Goodbye to Tom Hanks Film

Maria Canals Barrera Disney Channel photo

With “The Wizards of Waverly Place” having wrapped its final episode for airing July 24, series mom Maria Canals Barrera admits she’s getting a lot of questions about what she’s doing next.  Fortunately for her, she has “Larry Crowne” opening July 1, with none other than Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts.

“I’m looking forward to the premiere June 27,” notes the actress, who plays one of Tom’s fellow community college students — in teacher Julia’s classroom — in the feature the actor coscripted (with Nia Vardalos) and directed as well.  “Tom is fun and relaxed on the set and yet very focused and professional,” Maria notes.  “It was a lot of fun to see him in action as a director, finishing a scene and then saying, ‘And, cut’ — then rushing to the monitor to see the playback.”

The film has Tom’s character moving from coping with life after job loss — to a new life.  “I think it was very wise of them — Tom and Nia — to write the script in these times when unfortunately, a lot of people have to reinvent themselves.  Or fortunately,” Maria adds, “because sometimes when people have to reinvent themselves, they are able to move toward their original passion and become a more fulfilled person in the end.”

Maria is facing big life changes herself.  With her long-time series now concluded, she’s had to say goodbye to her “Waverly Place” family — Selena Gomez, David Henrie, Jake T. Austin and David DeLuise.  Of the forthcoming hour-long series finale, she says, “I believe the fans will get what they’ve been craving.  The beauty of it is, it has adventure, total heart-tugging drama and suspense, humor, wackiness, randomness and a ton of special effects.  It was fun doing it.  We were all emotional.  At the very last scene, we were crying and toasting and making speeches.”

The wrap party had a prom theme and the cast and production team received show “yearbooks” in keeping with the graduation of the young  “Wizards” actors.  Of her onscreen offspring, she notes, “They really are great people in that they each have a good head on their shoulders.  They’re very professional, focused on their work, they enjoy it and they realized the show was a blessing and appreciated it.”

MEANWHILE:  Maria says she texted back and forth with Selena recently when the 18-year-old It Girl took ill and was hospitalized after a “Tonight Show” appearance.  “She sent me a note that she was feeling much better,” reports the actress, who adds that she didn’t ask the nature of her former TV daughter’s ailment.  Having played mom to both Selena and Demi Lovato (in “Camp Rock” and its sequel), she’s aware of the fact both young stars are constant tabloid targets, with Demi having recently made her bipolar condition public, and Selena paparazzi bait as she dates teen heartthrob Justin Bieber.

“I don’t now how they can handle it.  It must be incredibly difficult at their age,” she says.

But Maria — who has two young daughters of her own — would much rather rhapsodize about her small screen daughters.  “What are the chances of two little girls who are best friends, both extremely talented, winding up becoming so wildly successful?  Demi is like — she glows.  She has that megawatt smile, and so much passion and enegy.  I love, love, love her voice.  She’s an incredible singer.  And Selena, she is so naturally an actress.  She was fully present, emotionally there, at 12 years of age and she’s just gotten better and better — amazing, especially when we were doing dramatic scenes.

“I really love them both to pieces,” she adds.

We guessed.

‘Wizards of Waverly Place’ Actors Find Magic in Emmy Nod

Canals Barrera, DeLuise
Canals Barrera, DeLuise

David DeLuise and Maria Canals Barrera – a.k.a. Dad and Mom on the Disney Channel’s “The Wizards of Waverly Place” – were both taken by surprise by last week’s Emmy nominations announcements, in which their series received a Best Children’s Show nod. 

“I didn’t even know they were doing the announcements – or that we were in contention,” David says.  And Maria notes, “I have two little kids, so your mind is in a lot of places early in the morning.  It was a complete, wonderful surprise.  Everybody is really excited.  We all want to go together,” she adds, referring to their series children, Selena Gomez, David Henrie and Jake T. Austin as well as cast mate Jennifer Stone.

The duo are busy working on the third season of their series, and they have the Aug. 28 “Wizards of Waverly Place The Movie” Disney Channel Original in the can.  Come September, Maria will be doing double duty, simultaneously shooting “Wizards” and “Camp Rock 2: The Final Showdown” – in which she reprises her role as the mother of Demi Lovato’s aspiring performer character.  The first “Camp Rock,” with Demi and the Jonas Bros., scored a megahit for the network, with ratings second only to “High School Musical 2.”

“The script is fantastic,” she says of “Camp Rock 2,” which has all the young stars back, and now pitted against each other in rival camps.  Of traveling back and forth between the series set and movie location, she says, “I’m thrilled to be doing it.”  And of her five and three-year-olds, “I’m bringing them with me!  They’re too little to be without mama and dada.  My husband is going to be coming with us.”

 AND:  DeLuise also is doubling up his jobs, but in his case, it’s all on “Wizards” as he is set to direct two episodes of the show this season.  “You have to be on your toes and be on top of everything that’s going on,” notes the youngest son of the late Dom DeLuise.  “I’ve done several episodes now, and I definitely enjoy behind the cameras.  As far as the future, what the world gives me, I go with.  If the directing continues, great.  I hope it does.  It’s very satisfying.”

 HIGH STEPPING:  Nigel Lythgoe, who created “So You Think You Can Dance” and serves as one of the show’s judges, tells us he couldn’t be happier with how much the world and, in particular, the dance community has begun to respect the level of talent coming from their show.  “There’s an integrity now in it and the dancers are being recognized by their names and so are the choreographers,” notes the British TV mogul.  “Before we started, choreographers were just choreographers and a lot of people didn’t even know what they did.  Now people are like, ‘I love Mia Michaels!‘”