Esteban Arce is a famous TV host in Mexico and famous among Hispanics in the United States and Latin America since the 90s. His path to fame led him to the abyss of perdition due to excesses, parties, ego and vanity.
He went through the most famous program of the time on Telehit and Televisa “El Calabozo” based on interviews and making fun of and abusing the defects of others, a formula that was successful in those years, until he also went through TV programs “Trapitos al sol” and “Cotorreando” on Univision, celebrity gossip shows.
Nothing edifying programs and as he mentions that they did not help him spiritually at all.
But one day everything changed for him, when the devil himself spoke to him, and for him, this encounter with the devil and listening to him, meant the definitive and total return to his Catholic faith, the return to a path of coherence of his values that since child instilled in him.
Today in Mexico he is currently the host of the newscast “Matutino Express” today called “Expreso de la Mañana” and which is broadcast on Foro Tv and all the digital platforms of the powerful Televisa, a program where Esteban has remained for years and years defending the value of the life of the unborn, the values of family, marriage and fulfilling a mission that God gave him.
His voice is also heard in every corner of Mexico every day on Grupo Imagen’s radio network.
This is the interview with Esteban Arce that he gave to Aleteia, where he narrates a few strokes of his life and how the prayers of his wife and family led him back to the straight path of God.
Esteban, tell us your full name, where were you born and what are the talents that God has given you?
I am Esteban Arce Herrera, I was born in Mexico City 60 years ago and I am the fourth of five siblings. I was educated in Marist schools of the Mexico Institute and as qualities, what can I say, it always characterizes me to have my imagination on fire.
How is it that Esteban fame comes to you?
It is a popular fame, because television makes you popular whether you like it or not. I started on television by accident, because a childhood friend, Alejandro González Iñárritu, today an award-winning film director, was involved in a radio station, W Radio.
I stopped seeing him for a while, and when we met, he asked me to help him do some promos for the station. And there I started playing and, what started as a game, ended up as a way of life. Later I formally joined the station and at the same time restricted television came along and later open television, which I joined together with a colleague and it went very well for us. We were on TV for six years and, since then, I haven’t stopped.
What did El Calabozo, the TV show so famous in the 90s, mean to you?
Spiritually little. It was a pure entertainment program, quite bizarre, but very funny. The kids liked it a lot because there was everything from violence, to tears, laughter and love.
Was the key to the success of El Calabozo the bullying that was done?
It was a bit of that, but more than anything it was “cheek”, that is, annoying but also annoying, and we laughed with them. That’s what people went to the program for, to annoy us and be annoyed.
How bad is that kind of humor?
At that time it was what there was, it was a way to pull the public. Sometimes it was quite charged, but it was a dynamic that did not offend because, whoever we laughed at, they always returned to the program. Today it is not a recommended program, it is not content that you want your children to see, but at the time the kids in Mexico saw it.
What was it like meeting Jorge “El Burro” Van Rankin?
He is a very dear friend, funny, a unique character. As a friend he is very good, I never had a problem with him. We continue to see each other, not as we would like, because each one took his direction.
How was your relationship with God in the El Calabozo stage?
I was always Catholic. My mother was a catechism teacher, her family was from Lagos de Moreno and the Union of San Antonio, Jalisco, both Cristeros areas, the most Catholic part of Mexico. And on my father’s side, they are Spaniards from Burgos, the same, the most Catholic part of Spain.
The formation had it, what happens is that the path sometimes becomes biased. I entered environments where I disregarded, I was losing myself, moving away and, when I realized it, I was already very far from God.
When my wife and I got married, unfortunately, we lost about five children before the first birth and that hit us hard. But even so, I was a standard sinner, one of those who go to mass, baptisms, first communions and already feel Catholic, but in reality I was very far from everything that being Catholic involves.
With El Calabozo we became enormously popular in Mexico and were the most successful program for young people for four years on radio and television. We were in the most successful radio station in Mexico, we brought figures like Michael Jackson and the Rolling Stones and I believed that this environment was the whole world.
When I begin to move away from that environment, spiritual and family problems also begin, but fortunately my mother, my grandmother and my wife asked a lot for me and I was able to open my eyes and realize that this was not the path and I said to myself: “ I don’t come from there and I’m not going there.”
I had to do a route change, redirect. I thank God, because I don’t know what would become of me right now. Fortunately, right now I have the most precious thing that is my family and I am a normal father, with his mistakes and his successes, but always looking for God, holiness and reaching Him, where he came from.
Much is said about the fact that in this environment there are drugs, alcohol, women, did you fall into those temptations?
I was never vicious. I was at those parties, but drugs and alcohol were not my thing, and I think that is part of that blessing, that someone was asking for me. I hit rock bottom when I started to lose the value of my family and I started to put my marriage at risk, that’s when I hit rock bottom. They already had it sung for me, they closed the switch for me and turned it on again and, fortunately, I was able to mend the road. But, thank God, every day I seek to be a better Catholic and consistent with what I think and what I believe.
Esteban, how is it that the devil speaks to you?
The devil talks to you with drugs, with women, with alcohol and I saw them all. I could have fallen at any time and in any environment: at work, on television, in the world of football… I’ve seen it all. But God has a path for you and he tells you “it’s not there”, and he leads you along a better path.
What does Medjugorje mean to you?
Medjugorje was part of a change, it was the trigger. God touches us in a certain way and it touched me when I was with my wife on a pilgrimage in Medjugorje, where extraordinary things happened. I saw very shocking things. All those sensations that transcend and that made me see that we are in a place of passage. From there, on my return, I completely changed my profile and my expectations, I was still the same, but my blessings and thanks were used for something else.
Did the demon speak to you there?
Yes. I was in an apparition of the Virgin. I was lined up and there was also a girl who had a possession and who was screaming. She changed her voices, her language, we were very impressed because she was a very small girl. When he passed close to us he kept talking, he came closer, the rest of the group paid no attention because the apparition was there and he continued to insult me and a North American in English, he was Canadian, and then he changed and said to me in Spanish: “ What are you doing here Esteban? Her voice was that of a grown man and I think it wasn’t her.
What caused you at that moment?
A very big impression. I realized that the spiritual theme is the strongest thing in this plane of life, but that very few people give it value. If people gave it the value it really has, not even half of the things that are done in this world would be done.
There is a satanic blueprint and you choose the path. Therefore, when I returned from Medjugorje, it was very clear to me where I had to point the GPS. And from there I changed the profile of the program, but not my style, although I got into fights because I began to defend issues of life, family and that makes me uncomfortable.
All the popularity came to me backwards. I went from being charming to a despicable guy and the worst. But, when that change occurs, God gives me the strength and intelligence to know how to handle it, and I keep asking for it every day to be able to carry that cross.
How can you explain that a television station as powerful as Televisa, with ideologies contrary to yours, such as promiscuity, has been able to maintain your program?
The television station is not based on being promiscuous. There are producers who do promiscuous things, but there are also very good producers like Miguel Ángel Herros, who has done the most papal broadcasts, always looking for family themes. Sometimes, some producers believe that going down those paths makes them more popular. In my case, I started to change the content of the program and they have never told me not to. I have had the Virgin of Guadalupe on my desk for 15 years and they have never taken it away from me.
Is satanism and orgies on television a myth or a legend?
There must be productions that do, but there are also, for example, novels that begin with a mass and end with a mass. Most of the soap operas they do on Televisa consecrate them to God, although the theme is sometimes biased.
Many times they tell me that this environment is full of drugs, the truth is I don’t see them, but I also think that you make the environment. I have known of producers who are satanic, who engage in witchcraft, orgies, but they do not do it by putting the interests of the company first.
There are also many very good people. In television news, for example, they have allowed us to have an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe whose flowers are renewed every day.
How have you been able to deal with the LGBT community?
I have friends of all kinds. I did a program for six years with a partner who is openly declared from the community and, if you ask him, he keeps saying that he has not had a better partner than me. He is Jewish, Cuban, gay and every Christmas he talks to me and he tells me that I am the only friend that television left him.
What I do not tolerate is that they come to sell me gender ideologies or that they come to impose things on me or make me believe things and for that they have attacked me. It is as if I am going to interfere with my ideas and projects in another forum, I will not do it and they will not allow me. To the extent that, with example and values, you propose what you believe and that you believe is from God, that is the way. It is not a matter of confrontation, but of exposing what you believe.
How do you define your mission in this world?
My mission is communication. God gave me the gift of communicating, expressing myself and finding a way to convey respect for life, for Him, for the family and all the values that this implies. In the program we have done it for 14 years, because the first year was different, but that is not thanks to me, it is thanks to God taking care of me and putting me in the right place. I have grasped that mission and I am the happiest in the world.
Your wife, Nieves, what does she mean to you?
It is a phenomenon. She is a very strong woman, who has helped me, she has trained me, because they say that her second education is given by her wife. Without her I would not have been able to transform my life. She is extraordinary, she has many values, she works for God every day and is consistent with what she does. She is always behind me, and I feel protected with her prayers.