I spoke with the gorgeous Mayte Garcia about her new show on VH1, Hollywood Exes. Mayte is the ex-wife of Prince. Hollywood Exes will give you a look into the lives of Mayte, Nicole Murphy (Eddie Murphy), Sheree Fletcher (Will Smith), Andrea Kelly (R. Kelly), and Jessica Canseco (Jose Canseco) as they re-invent themselves and step out of the shadows cast by their famous ex-husbands. It was an absolute honor to speak with Mayte because I have been a fan of her work for ages. When I think about belly dancing, she is the first person that always comes to mind. Her work is phenomenal. She is also a successful actress and has been featured in some of my favorite shows like Psych and Las Vegas. She was one of those people that I could have talked to forever. She was so nice and easy to relate to. Mayte has also started an animal rescue site that you need to check out. Finding animals proper homes is a passion of hers. I really can’t say enough good things about Mayte. Don’t miss the premiere of Hollywood Exes, June 27 at 9/8c on VH1.
Lena: You just shot a campaign for PETA.
Mayte Garcia: Yes I did. I did an anti-fur campaign but we did it with a little twist. I don’t want to give it away, but we did a little more than the “I’d rather be naked” campaign. It’s a little more tactful and it will really make you stop and look, and hopefully it will educate people on what is being done to create these coats. It’s heart wrenching and sad that people are doing that to animals. It’s cruelty to animals. I’m 100% behind the campaign. I hope that it will change some opinions. The campaign will be coming out during Hollywood Exes. It’s definitely going to make you go “Oh, no.”
Lena: I’m definitely with you on that. My babies are chinchillas, and it takes about 100 of them to make a fur coat. How they slaughter them is just awful. Chinchillas are so sweet.
Mayte Garcia: Oh my god, I know. I saw how they kill the animals and it’s crazy. I don’t know any animals that are bad, it’s just because they are treated badly. Jessica (Canseco), on the show, has ferrets. They are all living beings and should be treated with respect and loved.
Lena: Yeah, they don’t deserve to die like that at all, especially for superficial reasons. Do people really need chinchilla coats?
Mayte Garcia: I know. There is faux fur and it looks nice. I actually have a faux fur coat and it’s nice and warm. I don’t need an actual animal coat.
Lena: Your episodes of CSI: NY and Las Vegas were just on. They were two very different roles for you.
Mayte Garcia: That’s awesome. I love that. That’s why I got into acting, to play these different characters. It’s so much fun.
Lena: You’ve guest starred in so many fantastic shows over the years, but Psych was definitely one of my favorites. [Mayte played Darcy in “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, He Loves Me, Oops He’s Dead.” It’s the episode where naked men are turning up in fields and, in order to solve the case, Gus (Dulé Hill), Shawn (James Roday), Lassie (Timothy Omundson), and Juliet (Maggie Lawson) are required to go speed dating. Gus is then forced to go on a “sacrifice date” with Darcy. Gus takes Darcy to Henry’s (Corbin Bernsen) house. It was one of my favorite episodes of the season.]
Mayte Garcia: Oh Psych, that was so much fun. Thank you. Speed dating, that’s kind of what I’m going through right now (laughing). I’m single so I have to deal with all this crazy dating stuff. It was fun to play a little crazy and psychotic girl.
Lena: I love that show. It must have been great working with that cast?
Mayte Garcia: It was. They were so humble. I wanted to stay there. It was such a great job and everyone gets along. There were no attitudes. It is just a great show.
Lena: I’m sure they would have you back anytime. I’m pretty sure that Dulé Hill mentioned you on a press call interview. They were talking about all of Gus’ love interests throught the years. He was talking about his favorites and I’m pretty sure that he brought you up but said that he would have to pick his wife (Nicole Lyn) because she guest starred (in the episode “From the Earth to Starbucks”) and he knows what’s good for him and doesn’t want to get in trouble.
Mayte Garcia: I would love that. His wife is beautiful. When I saw her I was like, “Oh my god, she’s beautiful.” If they (Psych) ever need to cast me as a psycho girlfriend again, I’m there (laughing).
Lena: That is all that Gus attracts on the show, but it is so funny. (Are we bad people because we find Gus’ failed love life so hilarious?)
Mayte Garcia: Psych is doing really well. Dulé came from The West Wing and that show did really well, too. We talked about working (on shows) and stuff like that.
Lena: You got your start as a belly dancer.
Mayte Garcia: I started at the age of three. I was on That’s Incredible at the age of eight. Then we moved to Germany and I was a professional belly dancer there. I got a contract to dance in Egypt. Right before I was going to go to Egypt I met Prince and I decided to go on tour with Prince instead of going to Egypt.
Lena: That was a good decision.
Mayte Garcia: I know, it was cool. You can always go back to Egypt but to tour the world with a rock star, I think I’d rather do that.
Lena: That must have been amazing. I saw Prince live, several years ago, and he was amazing live. He’s so talented it’s crazy.
Mayte Garcia: I know, there is nothing like him live.
Lena: I’m a concert photographer and he’s on my list of people that I would like to photograph before I die. I know it’s not going to happen because he is not into online press (at all). You can’t even watch his (official) videos online because he deletes everything.
Mayte Garcia: Hey, you never know. It is hard to find his videos.
Lena: You’re belly dancing work is absolutely beautiful. People underestimate how challenging belly dancing is.
Mayte Garcia: Thank you. Yes, they do. I try to tell people that it’s for every woman, every child, at any age. It just depends on how far you want to go with it, just like everything. I think the beauty of belly dancing is that anybody can do it. On the show (Hollywood Exes), I show the ladies how to do a couple of steps. I have a DVD out (The Elements of Bellydance) and I plan on doing another one because it is just so much fun.
Lena: Yes, I saw the DVD on your site. You make belly dancing look so easy because you are so fluid and you have such precise control.
Mayte Garcia: Thank you.
Lena: Did you want to talk about your DVD, The Elements of Bellydance, because I would love to find out more about it?
Mayte Garcia: The Elements of Bellydance is definitely not a beginner DVD. It is for people who have taken belly dance. I’m just breaking down how the movements each have the aspects of elements like water and earth. Then it’s choreography that I did to a piece of music so you can learn it and perform it. I’ve actually asked people to please put it on YouTube because I want to see everyone perform my choreography. You can get that on my website [mayte.com] and then I also did one for Exercise TV. I did three ten minute beginner workouts for them. I’m planning on doing another DVD in the near future. I will definitely keep you posted on that. I want to do one for beginners. I actually want to do a mommy and me one because I started dancing with my mom and it’s such a great bonding experience between mother and daughter. That’s in the works.
Lena: I know that you worked on choreography for Britney Spears a while back. Are you still doing that?
Mayte Garcia: No. It was kind of a fluke. A friend of mine was directing her and working on choreography for her show and he asked if I could come down and do a couple of moves. I said sure. Britney was there and I started dancing and she was like “I like that, I like that…” and we put it all together and it came out. I loved that. It’s one of memorable moves from her “Slave to You” music video. I’m proud of it.
Lena: You have some gorgeous costumes. Were those all handmade for you?
Mayte Garcia: Thank you. Yes, there was this woman in Egypt that I used to go to every summer. She actually passed a couple of years ago. She still has a few pieces. I would go and tell her what color I wanted and sometimes I would draw it out and I would stay, ten days in Egypt, and she would make them all by hand to fit me. I still have them and ironically, I still fit into them. I can’t believe it. I have a couple of adjustments here and there but they still fit me. If you go on YouTube, I have costumes on that I wore back when I was 16 or 17.
Lena: How was it going to school after being featured on That’s Incredible!?
Mayte Garcia: Oh man, if I had sunglasses I would have worn them. I was like, “I’ve reached it” (laughing). It was fun. It just made me work harder. After that I moved to Germany and I really got deep into studying ballet and jazz. The thing about Europe, that I love so much, is that they appreciate dancing so much. Here they appreciate it but over there, so much more. I’m just fortunate to have had those years of performing. It was just a great time for me.
Lena: Other countries do seem to appreciate the arts more than the U.S.
Mayte Garcia: There was a dance company that I was in and you would perform at all these amazing places and it was funded by the city.
Lena: Your new show, Hollywood Exes, premieres June 27 on VH1.
Mayte Garcia: Yeah, I’m excited about it. In the beginning I got approached about it and I was a little nervous, but once I met the producers and they explained to me what the show is about I definitely wanted to do it. Either people don’t know me or they know me as being Prince’s ex-wife. They don’t remember, or know, that I was a dancer and I am an actress now. I’m just tired of kind of ignoring the purple elephant in the room. Let’s look at it and see what it is. Okay, I’m his ex-wife now let’s move on. Hopefully, they get to know me and get to know what I do and what I stand for. It’s a struggle that I still go through in life, so I’m happy and excited to share it, along with the other women, on the show. It’s really cool.
Lena: VH1 talks about the show as being a look into your lives as you are re-inventing yourselves and stepping out of the shadows cast by your famous ex-husbands. Is that a true representation of what the show is about? It isn’t a man-bashing show?
Mayte Garcia: It definitely isn’t a man-bashing show. All the women, except for me and I did, have children. It’s not about that. It’s about how we have grown and how we are trying to do our own stuff. Women have to take a point in their life and stop to have a child and it’s something that men don’t have to deal with. It is about us re-inventing ourselves and showing that we have moved on. Yes, we were married to them and you get to see a little bit about that person, but we are definitely not bashing them.
Lena: That’s good. I’m glad it’s going to be more of a female empowerment show rather than an ex-husband bashing show. You never know when you see some of the adds for these shows. I’m sure there were a lot of interesting discussions that went on behind the scenes.
Mayte Garcia: There were some funny things. You will definitely get an eyeful of personalities. There are some funny moments. I haven’t seen it but while we were filming it there were definitely some things that you guys are going to enjoy. People think that because I was married to Prince that I’m all weird and mysterious, okay I do love animals and pretty much have a zoo, but I was raised an Army brat. People are surprised to see how I live, so I’m happy that I can share that.
Lena: You must (on the show) go into what it was like being married to Prince. I’m sure it was difficult and fun at the same time.
Mayte Garcia: Like everything, you try to compare everything to a person that wasn’t married to a celebrity and we still have the same insecurities and the same loss and feelings that people go through when they get divorced but when you go to the grocery store people are asking you stuff. It’s different but the same. I don’t know how to explain it.
Lena: It can’t be easy to be married to any celebrity, and to be a celebrity couple, between all the paparazzi and the crazed fans.
Mayte Garcia: Oh, yeah. It’s nice because all the women on the show, we just have so much in common. We don’t even have to talk about it, it just is. It’s interesting how Eddie Murphy was movies, R. Kelly was music, and Prince does music, and Jose Canseco does sports. It’s all different aspects of this kind of fame, whatever it is, but we still have a similar struggle. We were married and got divorced. It’s just the same; it’s crazy.
Lena: Were any of you friends prior to the show?
Mayte Garcia: Sheree, Nicole, and Andrea were. I knew Nicole when she was pregnant with one of her kids. I met her with Eddie. We would greet each other and say hi, but we never really stayed in contact. And then afterwards, it’s crazy how much we get along and we are all really great friends now. I hadn’t met anyone else.
Lena: That’s great that you got to make some new friends.
Mayte Garcia: It’s crazy, all the similarities between me and Andrea. She’s a dancer, too. She danced with R. Kelly and she married him. We have a lot in common. You’ll enjoy it.
Lena: I am looking forward to it. It’s nice that they are taking a more positive approach to a reality show.
Mayte Garcia: Definitely. We have our opinions. Someone asked me before what the difference is (between our show) and I told her that we were married to these huge stars, some of the top people at what they do, like Eddie Murphy. Not to take that away from the other shows but it’s a different kind of show that you are going to be watching.
Lena: Have any of the ex-husbands said anything about the show? Do they know about it?
Mayte Garcia: I’m pretty sure that they know about the show but it’s not about them. It is about us and what we are going through and how we are trying to create something and show who we are. They have children that will always be a part of their lives. Prince will always be a part of my life, and it’s something that I’m tired of ignoring. This is who I am. I’m an actress. I’m a dancer. This is what I am doing now. I can only speak for myself. The other ladies have their own reasons for doing this.
Lena: I’ve always been a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.
Mayte Garcia: I truly believe that. I’m grateful to have met Prince and to have worked with him. I think I am, for the positive, who I am because of my life, not just him, but he happened to be a part of my life. It is what it is.
Lena: What else do you have coming up?
Mayte Garcia: I started my own animal rescue because I was very frustrated when I recently went to a shelter to adopt a dog and the lady at the shelter was like, I’m so happy that you are adopting her because we were about to euthanize her because she didn’t photograph well. It just killed me so I started a website [MaytesRescue.org] where there are videos because it will give you more of an idea of what kind of dog it is and if it is right for you, instead of just a picture. It is only for rescue dogs. What else? I have a movie that I can’t really talk about right now. I’m still in the process of figuring that out. You’ll have to interview me again.
Lena: They seriously said that about the dog? That is so awful!
Mayte Garcia: Yeah, that completely killed me. That’s why I started a foundation and instead of pictures, people can take a 10 second video and upload it. People can get a view of the dog.
Lena: My cat is a rescue.
Mayte Garcia: They are amazing. That’s something that I am really going to push for. That is something that I’m really passionate about. I’m affiliating myself with a whole bunch of shelters. I want to help get the dogs get homes.
Lena: I hope you are able to save a bunch of lives. They have to close down all those awful puppy mills. No puppy mills and no fur coats!
Mayte Garcia: Those are the two things that I really hate.
Watch the first episode online prior to the official premiere on VH1