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Lilliana Vazquez Shows Mainstream Media the Way

Lilliana Vazquez Shows Mainstream Media the Way

Style expert and on-air host Liliana Vazquez is more than an influencer. The E! star also goes behind the camera to help elevate the untold stories of the Latino community.

Photo by Cibelle Levi

With ninety-two thousand Instagram followers, a popular segment on E! Entertainment, and a daily show on Peacock, Liliana Vazquez is dominating digital platforms. While others describe her as an influencer, trendspotter, style expert, or host, Vazquez prefers to think of herself as a storyteller. She started with CheapChicas.com and turned what was once a small blog into a powerful brand, career, and platform. Now, she’s using that platform to amplify her voice and inspire other Latino media professionals to do the same. 

The five-foot-tall Latina has had some big opportunities. She’s shared fashion tips on The Wendy Williams Show, dished favorite recipes on Rachael Ray, contributed on Today, and worked as a correspondent for both Access Daily and Access Hollywood. As a host for some of the most-watched Hollywood awards preshows, Vazquez has interviewed A-listers like Julia Roberts and Robert De Niro. 

But her road to the red carpet hasn’t been all glitz and glamor—in fact, the story that starts in north central Texas is one of grit and gratitude. Vazquez was born in Fort Worth and was the youngest female in a large and typical Catholic family blended between her father’s Puerto Rican heritage and her mother’s Mexican heritage. “It made me realize ‘Latinx’ isn’t a monolith,” she says. “I’m American but I’m also a multicultural Latina, and I bring the nuance and beauty of this to my career and to the stories I tell.” 

Liliana Vazquez, Emmy-winning Host and TV Personality, E! Entertainment
Photo by Cibelle Levi

Vazquez recognizes that she only has the chance to tell compelling stories because of the sacrifices her parents made to help uncover opportunities not always available to young women of color in places like Texas. While they knew education was important, they didn’t know how to access the best schools and districts. Vazquez’s mother thumbed through the yellow pages, looking for p for “private school.” She started making calls and didn’t stop until she found someone willing to talk to her about her daughter. 

The school, known as Country Day, was one of the best in the region. Though application fees and the steep tuition were barriers, the family found a way to pay the initial $40. Before she knew it, Vazquez was dressed in her frilliest Mexican dress to take an entrance exam. “I believe blindly in my ability, and my mom does too,” she says. “Her plan was to worry about the test first and figure out the tuition second.” Vazquez scored high enough to catch the attention of administrators who helped her tap into financial aid programs. She blossomed into an honor student and won a full scholarship to George Washington University. 

Despite the pressure to maintain her scholarship, Vazquez flourished in the nation’s capital as an international business major and budding fashionista. She turned down investment banking jobs to pursue her dreams by starting as a low-level assistant at a glamour magazine. But while Vazquez was thrilled to break in, she also noticed the harsh reality of her new industry. She worked overtime just to rent a room in a crowded apartment, while her upper-class peers from the social elite were living in their parents’ townhomes and parlaying unearned internships into corner offices. 

“Fashion and entertainment weren’t built for people that look like me and sound like me and have my last name, but the struggle only made me more determined,” Vazquez reflects. “I may have to be one of the first, but I won’t be the last.” 

After paying her dues for a year, Vazquez landed a job at a Hispanic-owned advertising agency and her eyes were opened to a new world of possibilities. She was suddenly surrounded by minority founders, CEOs, and creative directors. And she was suddenly happy. 

Vazquez felt energized and reborn. She gained confidence and started believing in herself. And she gained ambition. She got married, and though she moved from New York City to Philadelphia, she stayed connected to fashion by starting her Cheap Chicas blog. She was her own creative director, writer, photographer, and editor. Then, she started writing emails to Today offering her services as a style expert. When those emails went unanswered, Vazquez persisted. Every week. For two years. Finally, late one afternoon, an alert came. She had an invite to shoot one segment on Today with Kathie Lee and Hoda on a Tuesday. She was invited back that Friday and returned as a regular guest expert and later as a regular contributor.

Even with that success, Vazquez wasn’t content to offer fashion tips and trends. She wanted to leverage her presence to bring a new kind of story to the iconic show. “I knew the Latinx community was valuable, and if I didn’t represent us then our stories would remain untold,” she says. Vazquez pitched her own stories and profiled Air Force pilots and other Latino heroes. 

By refusing to settle, Vazquez made a name for herself. She went on to Access Hollywood and later became the first Latina host of E! News in its thirty-year history. As the show ended in 2021, Vazquez moved from the East to West Coast. She now lives in the LA area and is enjoying another supporting role—this time as a mother to baby Santiago after a long and public battle with infertility. 

Parenthood wasn’t the only thing keeping Vazquez busy during the pandemic; she also used the time to reinvent herself as a director and producer. She’s self-produced two hundred episodes of E! Pop on Peacock, a daily show that’s made her a star in the digital space once again. Now, she’s building out her own production company, which will focus on empowering emerging Latino talent. 

“I’ve loved hosting segments and talking about fashion, but it’s time to produce the stories that I’ve always been told the world’s not ready for,” she says. After all, Vazquez is a storyteller at heart. And now, she’s ready to use her influence to bring underrepresented stories to the mainstream. 

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