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Interview: Mayte Garcia Of Hollywood Exes Talks Passions, Her Puerto Rican Mother, And Prince

June 25, 2012 10:00 AM by Martha Zaborowski

Mayte Garcia may be one of the Hollywood Exes now, but she is also one successful Hollywood entertainer. She was the world’s youngest professional belly dancer at the age 8 before being thrust into the spotlight as Prince’s wife and musical collaborator during the early 90s. Today, she is a recognizable actress and reality TV personality from shows such as Army Wives, CSI: NY, and Dance Your Ass Off.  Mayte addresses the “purple elephant” in the room of being Prince’s ex-wife, discusses her thriving acting career, and reveals why she decided to film Hollywood Exes.

“I prepared myself for this show by watching marathons of [female-focused] reality TV. I have to admit: I was a little worried.”

Although Mayte is comfortable with reality TV due to her stint as a judge on Dance Your Ass Off, she was apprehensive about returning to reality television. “I have turned down many reality TV offers before,” she says. “But after talking to the producers, this show felt different.” Producers wanted to focus on the women, and not the exes, and have it be more about the camaraderie between women who had suffered heartbreak and divorce while in the public eye. “Something nearly all women can relate to is heartbreak,” she says. “And Hollywood Exes shows the sisterhood after a break-up.”

Andrea Kelly is the most recent divorcee on Hollywood Exes, and the transitions and the raw emotions she experiences are on display as is the comfort and companionship she receives from her cast mates. “Being there for Andrea while she is going through this brought up some old feelings I thought I was long ago OK with,” Mayte reveals.

So about that “purple elephant” famous ex…

Many people may remember Mayte Garcia as the ethereal, vivacious young woman who accompanied her husband Prince on the The Today Show and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. “Yes, I was married to Prince, and that’s all I was known for for awhile,” Mayte admits. “I got married, had a baby, and the focus was no longer on my career—and that was OK; that’s the way it should have been—the focus being more on my family.” Tragically, Prince and Mayte’s son passed away a week after his birth due to a rare condition called Pfeiffer’s syndrome, in which the skull hardens prematurely, affecting the brain. A few years later, the couple divorced. Mayte moved from Minneapolis to Hollywood alone, ready to move on with her life. Always musically inclined, dancer Mayte thought she might make a career with music—instead she fell into acting. It was difficult, Mayte admits. “I was sending all that I had on video of myself to like, 50 agents a day. It was pretty much just me in music videos,” she says with a laugh. One of her first big auditions was the lead role in the movie Spanglish. “It was one of my first auditions, and they called me back 7 times! It was crazy.”

So what does Prince think about Mayte’s role on Hollywood Exes? “I haven’t talked to him about it.” The last time they spoke was several years ago. After a concert Prince and Mayte shared a hug, and she discussed the looming possibility that they may cross paths in Hollywood and that she just wanted the two of them to feel comfortable around each other if they did. She said he seemed surprised. “We were married and we had a family—so a part of me will always love him,” Mayte reveals. Prince has not reached out to Mayte since that conversation.

Another famous ex of Mayte’s was Tommy Lee, Mötley Crüe drummer. She started dating him after her break-up with Prince and his break-up with Pamela Anderson. Mayte and Tommy Lee were engaged, and they broke up after he revealed he didn’t want children. “But it was an amicable break-up,” Mayte reassures.

“My three passions are dancing, acting, and animals.”

Mayte longs for a child, but she is already a mother to 8 dogs, 2 cats, and 4 birds—and counting! Mayte recently adopted a dark-colored dog in a shelter, and a shelter employee expressed relief that Mayte adopted the dog because the dog “didn’t photograph well.” Mayte asked what she meant. She said that many dogs that are dark-colored in shelters don’t end up being adopted because they appear “too dark” on film. Mayte was appalled, but it gave her an idea. She set up a website, www.MaytesRescue.org, in which dogs in shelters are filmed on video so that potential adopters can “see the personality of the dogs” and increase some dogs’ chances of becoming adopted.

In addition to her large family of animals, she lives with her “funny, hot-tempered” Puerto Rican mother. “You’re going to see a lot of my Mom on the show. She says she doesn’t want to be some big star; she just wants to be the ‘Latin seasoning,’” Mayte says with a laugh. “I think the audience will love her.”

“Even if they’re talking negatively, at least they’re talking.”

Mayte is certainly familiar with the glare of the media’s spotlight, but I asked her if she was ready for the attention that was going to come her way in the shape of bloggers, blog commenters, and social media users who are typically very vocal about shows seemingly similar to Hollywood Exes. She didn’t seem too worried; she has been open to various forms of interactive communication in the past. “Back in the Paisely Park days, I was always on Group chat!” she giggles. She admits she is not planning on obsessively reading blogs (and has been warned against it), but thinks even if people don’t necessarily have nice things to say, at least they’re watching and talking about it.

Nevertheless, Mayte isn’t too worried about how she will appear on the show. She says she’s had a good experience filming with the women, and that the show is authentic in what it captures. You’ll see her go on auditions, vacation with the ladies, and date. Of the ladies, she says they’re “all grown-ass women” who are determined to be able to stand on their own if they need to, whether it’s in their business or in their personal life.

With her joyful giggle still in tact, Mayte Garcia sounds similar to the strikingly beautiful and effervescent young woman we encountered many years ago at Prince’s side, but she seems more confident and strong as the secure woman she is today. If the other women on Hollywood Exes are as approachable and genuine as Mayte is, the show will be refreshing to watch. Hollywood Exes officially premieres June 27 on Vh1 at 10 pm ET/9 pm CT. Check HollywoodExes.VH1.com for additional airings of Hollywood Exes.

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Photos courtesy of VH1

Topics: Reality TV, VH1 Reality TV Shows |

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