Flying cocktails. Name calling. Pool dunking.
They're some of the hallmarks of Spanish-soap operas known as telenovelas, but they're also part of the mix in a new reality series aptly called "My Life Is a Telenovela."
The show, which premieres 10 p.m. Oct. 7 on WE tv, highlights the very dramatic everyday lives of some actors best known to audiences for their work in telenovelas. Think of a Latino version of Bravo's "Real Housewives" franchise.
The Telemundo network produces many of its Spanish-language soaps in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, and WE tv cameras capture some of those casting calls and shoots in South Florida, what's been described as the "Latino Hollywood."
The show chronicles a group of actors (some friends, others frenemies) as they vie for the same roles in the ultra competitive telenovela industry. Producers and some of the actors promise that their lives off camera are as juicy and passionate as the roles they play or audition for on camera. And unlike telenovelas, cast members speak English throughout the show.
"We all have our own stories," said cast member Enrique Sapene, a Venezuelan actor who lives in Miami. "Latinos are passionate, dramatic and intense, and we all live in our little telenovelas."
Todd Lubin, one of the executive producers, said the idea for the series came from seeing how popular the actors were with Latino viewers but who were relatively unknown in the English-language market.
"Depending on how well-versed in Spanish [they were], people were running up to them asking for autographs or didn't know them," said Lubin of the actors. "That divide was really stark and we thought that was a seed for a great show."
In the premiere, three female cast members compete for the role of a villainess named Rebecca on a Telemundo telenovela called "Eva La Trailera."
"We hustle a lot to get roles," said Sissi Fleitas, a Miami actor who used to be a model on the former Univision game show "Sabado Gigante" and has appeared in various telenovelas. "It's a lot of work behind the scenes. People think there is only a glamorous life and indeed, there is but there is much more than that. We show what we go through -- with a lot of drama."
"It's very competitive, it's very hard to win that role and the decision of who gets a role or who doesn't, it's a mystery," he said. "It's very hard to figure out 'her, why not me?'... It's a system of fates. You'll see as the telenovela unfolds, it sort of opens up new storylines for them. What was going on in the telenovela was affecting who they are in real life."
Since the show is about telenovelas, looks like a telenovela and features real-life telenovela actors, it's hard to tell whether the cast members are acting or whether their drama is real. The actors use some of the same over-the-top deliveries (the arched eyebrow, come-hither looks, dramatic yells) as they do in a telenovela.
But Lubin and the actors said they were being themselves and having fun.
"It doesn't feel like a documentary. They ran with it and we did too," Lubin said. "It's real life versus what is scripted for Telemundo."
"I am the next Sofia Vergara," declares Fleitas in the first episode. "In the world of telenovelas, you have got to do whatever it takes to throw your competitor off. It's like war."
In the premiere, she seems to enjoy antagonizing fellow actor Maria "Raquenel" Portillo, a Mexican singer who used to perform with "Mexican Madonna" Gloria Trevi. The show explains that Portillo was incarcerated for five years with Trevi on charges of rape, kidnapping and corruption of minors that were later dropped, but that story continues to shadow her.
"I spent almost five years in jail and I was innocent," Portillo tells viewers after she auditioned for the role of Rebecca. "This is my chance at redemption. This is my comeback and I am so ready to finally turn the page."
The cast also includes hunky soap actor Gustavo Pedraza and comic relief Liliana Rodriguez Morillo, friend of Portillo. And there's the proud insider Sapene who likes to know everyone's business on and off set.
"I keep my ear close to the ground, trying to stay up to date," added Sapene. "There are a lot of surprises. You are going to have to watch."