Last night, “La Diva de la Banda,” Jenni Rivera, died in an airplane crash flying over Mexico. Back in February, her oldest daughter, Janney “Chiquis” Rivera, spoke to La Prensa de Houston about her mother and the new season of her hit reality TV show on mun2, which premiered on March 4, 2012.
The show followed Regional Mexican recording artist Jenni Rivera and her family, showing everyone the complexities of her job as well as being a wife, mother and grandmother. Health scares, a new business and family drama are among the things Chiquis mentioned we could look forward to on I Love Jenni Season 2.
AG: Hi Chiquis, so nice to meet you!
CM: Nice to meet you, too, Alex!
AG: Okay, well can we start with you telling the readers a little bit about I Love Jenni?
CM: I Love Jenni is a reality show based on our family, and mostly about my mother, what she does. Everybody knows she’s an artist, a regional Mexican recording artist, and she has five crazy kids and now a crazy granddaughter. She just got married a year ago, so now you can see a little bit of the dynamic between her being on stage and her being at home, and I think it’s important for her fans to see Jenni in a different light, for them to know and understand and see first-hand that she’s a normal woman. She always says, “No soy artista, soy mujer” (“I’m not an artist, I’m a woman), and I think that’s very important so people can identify, I think, more than anything, with her and with us. I mean, we weren’t born in this, let’s say, “luxurious life.” It wasn’t always like this. It was hard to get to where my mom is at. We had to go through a lot. There were a lot of doors shut in her face, pero nunca se llego por vencida (but she never gave up), she just said, “I gotta keep going, I gotta do this,” and thank God she is who she is now. I think it’s important for her fans to see that, to see the reality, to see that we’re normal, we’re raw, this is our life.
AG: Can you tell me about that beginning? I know you’re her oldest daughter, so can you tell me what it was like at the start?
CM: She had me when she was 16, two weeks before her sixteenth birthday, and we went through a lot. We grew up together. As you can imagine, being so close in age, we used to butt heads, but we’re so close. I’m her right hand. The only reason I’m confident to say that is because she says it! (laughs) But I’ve helped her a lot with the kids, helped her with the businesses and helped build her empire. Now we have a fragrance line, we have a jewelry, even a sports line that’s coming out, and so yeah. It wasn’t always peaches and cream. If anything, it was very difficult. There were times when we didn’t have anything to eat. Our dad wasn’t in the picture, he never really took care of us. When she got remarried, then he wasn’t in the picture, and then unfortunately, he passed away, so it’s been a rough road. It’s been a journey, but it’s been a good journey. We’ve been blessed.
AG: The relationship you have with your mom, I saw the highlights from season one and a sneak peek of season two, you all are really close. Can you tell me a little bit about that relationship?
CM: My mom and I are extremely close. Our relationship, I think, is at its best right now. I think it’s because I’ve grown up. I gave her a hard time, she didn’t know how to handle me. I wasn’t really a bad child, I was just doing the normal things, you know, things I would now tell children, “Don’t do it.” Like, for instance, ditching. I ditched sixth grade, and you can just imagine how my mom took that. I gave her a lot of headaches. She always says, “You didn’t come with a manual,” so we’d bump heads, and she’d be like, “What do I do with you!” She was just trying to make it in life and work hard. But now, it’s great. I mean, before she got married, it was like she was the husband and I was the wife. She would go out and work, and I would stay home and take care of the kids, pay the bills, make sure everything was running the way it should at home. That was my life for a very long time, since I graduated from high school. I was supposed to go to the Air Force, but that didn’t work out very well. She had just gotten divorced, and she needed me. She was just starting her career, so yeah. We always say she’s the rock I stand upon. She’s my partner, she’s my friend, she’s my mother, she’s my best friend. We have a very good relationship.
AG: Tell me about that starting point for her career. Where did it all start, and what was it like experiencing that with your mom?
CM: I think, it was in a one, when her first hit hit the radio, I wanna say it was “Las Malandrinas,” and it was just so different. It was a corrido, so it wasn’t, like, very…I don’t know what the word is, I don’t know, it just wasn’t likely for a woman to sing a corrido. I think that’s, more than anything, what caught everyone’s eye. It wasn’t easy though, but it was her first hit on the radio. I remember thinking, “Oh my gosh.” I remember being in sixth grade, fifth grade, and my mom had just started her career. I would think, “Oh my god, imagine if my mom was, like, this big superstar.” Still, to this day, it’s surreal. It’s crazy to see all these fans love her, you know? She sold out the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and it’s just crazy to see that, to see that, “Wow, all these people are here to see my mom.” It’s a beautiful feeling.
AG: What do you think it is about her that makes her so likeable?
CM: I think, more than anything, what makes her likeable is that she is a real woman. She’s not the average, you know, size 3 (laughs). You know, she always says that she’s just, you know, “I have stretchmarks, and I am a woman, I’ve had kids,” and I think people can look at her and say, “Wait, I have kids, too, and she made it.” I think, more than anything, I think that’s why people can identify with her and relate to everything she’s been through. She’s not trying to pretend she’s perfect, like, “Oh, you know, I’m picture perfect.” Not at all. If anything, it’s like, “This is who I am. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve done things that I shouldn’t have done, but you know what, I accept them and I’m trying to fix it,” and I think that’s what people love about her. She’s just so real, it doesn’t get any more real than my mom.
AG: Speaking of real, I saw in the sneak peek for season two that she has a health scare.
CM: Yeah, that was something that really, really was a huge surprise for us. My mom is the type of woman that, she doesn’t let anything… what’s the word that I’m looking for… que la tumbe.
AG: Break her?
CM: Yeah, she doesn’t let anything break her. When I saw that, when I saw that she was actually scared, her face, it’s just a face I had never seen on my mom before. I got scared, and I thought, “Oh my gosh, now it’s my turn to be strong, I have to be strong for the kids and everything’s gonna be fine,” but it was definitely a scare, something that que no le deseo a nadie, es la verdad, fue algo muy dificil (something I would never wish upon anyone, that’s the truth, it was really difficult). Thank God she’s okay, but you guys will see a different side of Jenni, for sure. For sure you guys will see a different side of Jenni, it’s something…even every time I watch it, it’s like, it makes me cry. I can’t believe she went through all that.
AG: What else can we look forward to in season two?
CM: There’s someone that’s in love in my family. There’s a new addition to the family. There might be marriage, I’m not sure (laughs). There’s possibilities of my mother having another grandchild, so there’s a lot of surprises. There’s a whole lot of surprises in this season, and the thing is that we all feel so much more comfortable, and you can see it. The good thing about the reality show is that it’s reality, it’s us, it’s our real lives, and if something not so good happens, it’s out there, because we signed a contract, and they can follow us wherever, so there’s a whole lot of surprises. I’m very excited for this season, it’s gonna be great. I mean, I Love Jenni Season One was number one on mun2.
AG: You did sign that contract, and they are allowed to follow you wherever. I mean, that must be difficult when going through personal things like your mom’s health scare. What is it like having cameras around you 24/7?
CM: You know what, it’s not very… There’s times or days when I’m just like, “Oh my gosh, I am so annoyed,” but you know what, if I’m annoyed, you see it, and also if I’m happy. Usually we’re always happy, to be honest with you, because we kind of already have it in our minds, “You know what, we’re gonna record, and we did this, and it’s gonna be a positive thing for the world, for women, for men out there.” Sometimes it is a little tiring, it’s kind of like, “Oh my gosh.” But the good thing is that we don’t have to pretend. You know, it is what it is, and that’s what’s a big relief off my shoulders, that I don’t have a script, like, here’s a script, say this, say that, I’m not really good with that stuff. It’s all real, it’s real stuff.
AG: Speaking of script, your mom is going to be in a movie.
CM: Yes, that’s another thing! Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I forgot that! You can see that in season two, that she came out in her first, um, she starred in her first film, Filly Brown. She did wonderful, and we went to the Sundance festival in Utah. She did an amazing job, it’s just crazy to see my mom in a movie.
AG: Is there anything else you think the people of Houston should know about the show or anything you think I missed or didn’t touch base on?
CM: Well, there are a lot of surprised to look out for in season two, and also, we’re going to start up a spin-off called Jenni Rivera presents Chiquis and Raq-C, where it is going to be showing me aspiring to become a businesswoman, so that’s gonna be huge for me, to see my life on a personal level. I think it’s gonna be fun, it’s definitely gonna be a lot of fun. You guys can also always visit mun2.com/tv/jenni to see more clips, things that are adelante (coming soon), in other words.
AG: Can you talk a little bit more about the businesswoman aspect of yourself?
CM: Yes. Thank God for my mother, because she kind of embedded business in my mind. She always just threw me out there and said, “You know, I wanna do this, I want to have a fragrance line, I wanna do this,” and I would go and figure it out. Now I feel so confident to say, “You know what, I want my own business.” It’s going to be called “Blow Me Dry.” (laughs) Kinda catchy, right? Anyway, it’s a hair salon for women, and I’m going to have a service for men, but it’s not a full-on salon. It’s just gonna be where you get your hair washed, conditioned, set, and it’s like an in-and-out sort of thing, you know? It’s gonna be in Encino, Calif., so that’s exciting for me. It’s something that I…it’s gonna be my baby. My baby. And I think that’s important.
AG: Yeah, that’s a great idea, too. There are so many times when I go to the salon to cut my hair, and they blow it out and it just..
CM: Looks beautiful for two or three days! Yeah! So, I think down where we live, it’s a great concept. It’s gonna work out. I think it’s gonna be good, just obviously, to begin, I’ve been doing this for about six-seven months now, it’s been a process. But it’s a learning experience, and the truth of the matter is, that’s been my entire life. I kind of go into something not knowing what the heck I’m doing, and it turns out good! (laughs) It’s all God.
AG: Well thank you so much for your time, you’ve been very sweet.
CM: You’re so sweet! Thank you!