first person

Making a Business Sing

Gloria Estefan, who will speak at a women's leadership conference at Simmons College on Saturday, is no one-note pop star.

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Christopher Muther
April 27, 2008

Before I take another second of your time, I need to know what's happening with the Connie Francis movie. If this interview is impeding its progress, I'm hanging up right now.

It's happening. We've been working on the screenplay. We finished the script, I think we're there.

You will be playing her?

That's my goal. It's kind of eerie. Ever since I heard her singing when I was a little girl, she'd make my hair stand on end. I got the feeling that one day I'd have something to do with Connie.

Answer me honestly: You received an honorary doctorate from Berklee last year. Is it hanging up on a wall, or did you sell it on eBay?

Since I put it in my husband's hands, I can guarantee that it's hanging up somewhere in the office. That was a big deal for us. For all the schools to get a degree from, Berklee was quite something.

For those of us who won't be at your Simmons talk, can you summarize the secret to your success in a couple of sentences?

Sure! Of course that's possible. Nope, can't do it. For me it's kismet, because if I hadn't met my husband, I wouldn't be doing this. Other than that, it's belief in ourselves, and love for the music. A lot of it was perseverance and being our own cheerleaders. My definition of success is doing what you love and being able to do it for a living.

People en Espanol estimated your wealth at about $500 million . . .

Jesus! Who estimates this stuff ?

I'm not asking you to confirm or deny that number, but I'm wondering what percentage of it you may be interested in donating to a certain journalist? Do I hear 10 percent? Twenty?

We'll see how the interview turns out.

Will the industry's slump in CD sales affect my percentage of your fortune?

Well, we diversified a long time ago. We moved into a lot of real estate, hospitality. I'm happy we had different things other than the music.

How involved are you in the hotels and restaurants that you own?

Very much so. Emilio [her husband] is the creative side. He loves the designing. I'm always the functional one. It's a good combo in that respect. He hates the financial side, so I handle that. It bores him to death. And I love it.

You were offered a judging position on American Idol and you turned it down? Really?

I don't like to judge. I don't even like to give suggestions. I think everyone has something to offer. I would tell [contestants] what I told Shakira, which is just enjoy it and don't fret so much because it all goes by so quickly.

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(Photo by Barbara P. Fernandez/Corbis)

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