The name Marco Antonio Regil may not be familiar to you if you aren't an avid game show fanatic, but chances are that he will be a household name in the future. Regil is a popular Spanish-language game show host with a remarkable upbeat style and engaging personality. He currently hosts the Spanish version of Minute to Win It, called Minuto Para Ganar, on FOX's newest channel MundoFox.
Hailing from Tijuana, Mexico, Regil currently resides in Los Angeles California and is a U.S. citizen. His past hosting gigs include Spanish versions of The Price is Right, Family Feud, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, and Dancing With the Stars.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Marco Regil about his love for game shows and his newest job as host of Minuto Para Ganar.
Question: What first drew you to game shows and hosting?
Marco Antonio Regil: I never said, "I want to host game shows when I grow up!" I just really liked them. I watched as many as I could, especially The Price is Right and Family Feud. When I was 15 I got a job as a radio DJ on a music station, and then by 1997, when I was 27 years old, The Price is Right came to Mexico and I had my first national TV show.
Q: I've read that Bob Barker is your idol. What is it about Barker that you enjoy?
Regil: Bob Barker, Richard Dawson, Ray Combs - all of them are hosts that I have looked up to. They're all gentlemen. If you see the way I host you know that their style is not my style, but from them I have learned to be respectful to contestants. Alex Trebek is another one; you can see that they know who is the star of the show, and that is the contestant.
What I enjoy is that a good host can be serious but funny and use a poker face to allow contestants to also be funny. These men are masters at that. They're good at listening and then playing along with what the contestant gives them to work with.
Q: What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome to achieve your success?
Regil: My own mind! I am my own biggest friend and worst enemy. When I was younger everyone thought that the road to success was college and a career, and my family would say to me, "Are you crazy?" They thought that my chances weren't good at making it in the entertainment business. My mother though, she told me to follow my heart and gave me clear encouragement.
I was always determined, but I felt fear. I just didn't act on the fear. I was willing to be focused and work hard, and to sacrifice. I really sacrificed my teen years, choosing to drop out of school and work.
Q: So early on in your life you understood what it would take to accomplish your dreams?
Regil: Yes. When I see kids now who are 15 I think, "Wow, I was young!" But you have to listen to your heart, and you have to sacrifice to get where you want to go. It's interesting, because if you're going to be a doctor, or you're going to be an athlete, you of course have to be disciplined but you also have a clear direction and a schedule, a course of action to take to become what you want to be. With entertainment careers, there's no direction. There's no college course that trains you to be a television host and provides you with mentors. You have to do this on your own, and it takes hard work.
Q: How is Spanish-language programming different from English programming?
Regil: It's a different audience. Most Latinos speak both languages, though there are two different segments of that population. Some are immigrants who have come here because they've struggled and are looking for opportunity. Others are second, third, fourth generation who were born here but still embrace their roots. They all want to keep their roots and culture, but at the same time embrace the American way.
FOX has been progressive and open-minded with MundoFox. They allow people to speak both languages, so the natural flow of something like a game show isn't interrupted. Traditionally, channels like Telemundo, it's a lot of drama. With MundoFox there are no soaps in prime time, which is different.
Q: Tell us about Minuto Para Ganar, the show you're currently hosting. Is it the same as Minute to Win It?
Regil: It's exactly the same game. There are 35 games that we play, it's produced in Los Angeles, and 80% of the production team is the same as the original game show. The contestants are wonderful - we had an American war hero on the show playing the games, he's a third generation immigrant, and he was great. It's a fast pace and I'm always trying to pay attention to everything going on!
Q: What unique challenges does a physical show like Minuto Para Ganar have that you don't experience with a more traditional game show?
Regil: With the classic game shows, they are taped like the show is live. The new generation of game shows, like Minute to Win It or even Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, it's more like watching a video game. The audience knows it's edited, but they don't care. It's like viewing photos that have been edited with PhotoShop. They're still great photos.
When I worked on Family Feud, the show is 44 minutes before adding the commercials so we taped for 44 minutes. With Minute to Win It we tape about two hours. The contestants must be prepared, and we bring in someone to perform each game before it's recorded, just to show the contestants that it's possible to win. Then there are segments where we try to make the contestant feel comfortable - get Grandma on the phone, show photos of their kids - it's almost like a hybrid of a game show and a talk show. All of this comes together to create a piece of art for television.
Q: Would you be interested in hosting an English-language game show in the future?
Regil: Yes, of course! That's why I moved here, that's why I learned English.
Q: And given the choice, which show would you like to host?
Regil: The Price is Right and Family Feud are in my heart. I love both shows and there is a lot of emotion there. If Drew Carey ever decides to retire...
I'm learning to love Minute to Win It too. I was involved with an idea for a Junior Minute to Win It, bringing the game back with kids or teens playing. We actually set it up and played it, presented it to the networks, including GSN. So I would love for that to be picked up.
Q: What a great idea! Kids would be fun to watch on that game.
Regil: Yes! The little voice in their minds, the one that guides us all, for kids that's not a professional voice. They are much more free to play and enjoy.
Q: Finally Marco, if you could play as a contestant on any game show, which one would you choose?
Regil: Oh Lord! Let's see. Minute to Win It, I've played and I'm pretty good. It's very challenging though. I think I would have to say The Price is Right. You can know all the stats and probabilities going into almost any game, so overall it's an easy game to win.
We would like to thank Marco Antonio Regil for speaking with us, and wish him all the best in his endeavors. We're looking forward to seeing him on mainstream prime time soon! You can keep up with Regil on Facebook, or check out some of his work via YouTube.