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By Chris Gardner
There's no doubt about it: Mario Lopez is one busy guy.
On any given day, he can be found juggling fatherhood (his daughter, Gia Francesca, was born Sept. 11, 2011) and a fiancee (he's engaged to dancer Courtney Mazza) with an in-demand career ("Extra," "On With Mario Lopez"). Somewhere along the way, he managed to sneak into the kitchen to create a nachos recipe -- which he's promoting for the upcoming Cinco de Mayo celebration -- in partnership with Betty Crocker. Wonderwall managed to corner Lopez in the car this week during a rare moment alone for a quick phone chat to get an update on all the above.
Wonderwall: How has being a father changed your life?
Mario Lopez: It has just complemented every aspect of it. You know, I do everything that I continue to do. I just get up earlier to spend time with her. I try to rush home to spend time with her, and I carve out the weekends to be with her, unless it's work-related. I just look forward to mornings so much more now.
WW: And you're getting married soon. How is the wedding planning going?
ML: It's going great. She's pretty much taking care of everything. I'm just involved in the reception, and I'm involved as much as she wants me to be. (laughs)
WW: Do you have a date and location set?
ML: It's in Mexico, and it's going to be in the fall. That's all I know at the moment. The rest remains to be seen; I'm getting told as we speak.
WW: What about the honeymoon?
ML: We are going to have our honeymoon a little bit later on, but we will definitely make up for it.
WW: You have such a hectic schedule, being a father, a fiance, a host on "Extra," etc. How do you keep it all straight?
ML: With "Extra" and my TV show and my syndicated radio show, "On With Mario," I'm very blessed and couldn't be happier both professionally and personally.
WW: Let's talk about "Extra" for a minute. Your girl, Maria Menounos, is still in the running on "Dancing With the Stars." What do you think her chances of taking home the Mirror Ball Trophy?
ML: Her chances are great. She's got the best partner and choreographer on the show in Derek, and if she listens to him, she'll be all right. But you never know which way the audience is going to vote. I thought Sherri Shepherd was going to be in there for a while, and she went out early. So you never know.
WW: Let's talk food for a minute. Cinco de Mayo is coming up, and I hear you've created a special recipe for the celebration in partnership with Betty Crocker.
ML: My nachos! That's what I'm talking about! I have my Beer Queso Nachos recipe and am getting ready to fire it up for Cinco de Mayo, when it's extremely appropriate.
WW: When I first saw your name next to a recipe with beer and nachos in the name, I was pretty skeptical. You don't look like someone who plays around with those two things.
ML: I'm not a calorie counter, but I like to eat pretty smart during the week, and then on the weekends I like to go nuts. That's how you maintain a healthy lifestyle, not just a diet. So I encourage people to go nuts as long as you eat smart during the week. Give yourself something to look forward to, and I look forward to my Beer Queso Nachos. On the weekends, you'll see me indulging. Especially on a Saturday or Sunday, when I'm doing my day drinking, I indulge maybe a little too much!
WW: What does Cinco De Mayo mean to you? I think a lot of people, maybe just the people I know, think of it as an excuse to get drunk on tequila.
ML: Well that is a good excuse to do that. But a lot of people think that Cinco de Mayo is the Mexican Fourth of July when it isn't -- it's actually the Battle of Puebla, but this isn't a history lesson. It's just a celebration of the culture and to recognize Latinos, specifically Mexicans, and I am Mexican. It's fun, and it's perfect when it's on a Saturday -- it can't get better.
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