WEtv Wades Into Telenovela Territory With New Docuseries (Exclusive)

Telanovelas - H 2016
Courtesy of We TV

The network has picked up eight hourlong episodes of 'My Life Is a Telenovela,' which centers on a group of actresses who set out to land a role on Telemundo's real-life telenovela 'Eva La Trailera.'

A version of this story first appeared in the April 1 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

On the heels of such series as Jane the Virgin and NBC's Telenovela, AMC-owned cable network WEtv has greenlighted eight hourlong episodes of My Life Is a Telenovela. The docuseries centers on a cadre of actresses who set out to land a role on Telemundo's real-life telenovela Eva La Trailera. As part of the unique arrangement, WEtv and Telemundo cameras were rolling simultaneously on the soap opera's Miami set.

Matador (Lip Sync Battle) initially took the concept to WEtv president Marc Juris, who urged the producers to find a real telenovela to center the series around. "We have a brand promise, which is bringing you into these immersive real-life situations," he says. To avoid spoiling the Telemundo series, which already is airing on the Spanish-language channel, and to accommodate the WEtv production schedule, My Life won't debut until later this year.

The partnership between the networks is strictly promotional, with both networks' shows looking to benefit from the additional buzz the other offers. "We have two distinct audiences," notes Juris, who has been savvy about courting the African-American audience with such series as Braxton Family Values and Mary, Mary and now is eager to reach the fast-growing Latin American one. (That this series is airing on WE and not on one of Telemundo's many cable siblings in the NBCUniversal portfolio is likely to raise a few industry eyebrows.)

My Life comes as Juris' network continues to notch ratings gains amid increased competition. Though it does not yet rank among the top 25 cable nets, WE did post its fourth consecutive year of growth among its core adults 25-54 demographic. Juris credits the company's "big swing" corporate culture, the patience they have to find the story (My Life is a year and a half in the making) and the desire for diversity on their air for this past year's 9 percent lift in total viewers.

"There's always great interest in other cultures," he adds, "and any new audience is a good audience."