(This interview has been edited for clarity and length.)
Q: Before the pandemic, you toured endlessly. How have you adapted to not being able to go out and work on your craft?
A: To go from being in an environment where I was in front of thousands of people every week to basically just go home — it was a shock. It took a bit of adjusting. I knew that it wasn’t going to be a two-week thing. I knew it was going to go wild.
Q: I don't think we realized until the shutdown how much we crave contact with other people. What have you done to keep from getting overwhelmed?
A: I stopped planning or setting certain expectations, because you can’t set them based on the current situation. We don’t know. The only thing I did know for a fact was that I could work on myself. First of all, getting sleep. I never used to get sleep because I was always go, go, go. I was always on a plane, on a bus, in a car, on my way to sound check. I was really good at naps, but I never got a full night’s sleep. And I started working out. Since March I’ve been hitting the gym and I’m down about 60 pounds.
Q: Is it true that at one point, maybe two or three years ago, you were so heavy that your doctor said you didn't have long to live?
A: I went to go see an endocrinologist and my sugar level was through the roof. I was basically peeing honey, that’s what the doctor told me.
Q: What did you have to cut out that you miss?
A: It helped that they started closing restaurants where I live. So I started cooking for myself, and I had never done that before. Preparing my own meals, I was able to control the amount of sugar going in, the carbs and everything. That’s been a big help.
Q: On "Mr. Iglesias," your streaming show, you play a high school teacher. I read that you considered being a teacher. Is that accurate?
A: I took a course called Exploratory Teaching, and they would take us to elementary schools to let us teach lesson plans to kids. I was offered a full scholarship to come back and teach in the Long Beach Unified School District as long as I agreed to teach for two years, because I was bilingual.
Q: So did you?
A: No, I had a vision early on of what I wanted to do with myself. But even the principal of the school was like, “Hey, dude, you’re making a big mistake. Not everybody gets offered an opportunity like this.” It made all the sense in the world to become a teacher, but again, I was like, I know what I want to do. I think that any time you really know what you want to do and you’re very passionate about it, you should go for it. My mom, she didn’t care. She was like, “As long as you have a job. If they offer you benefits, get up there and stay there.”
Q: This is a question from Susana, who's a fan of yours. She wants to know what you think of the term "Latinx."
A: I get the term. It is definitely a lot more encompassing. It’s not just one-sided. But it does take some getting used to. I remember there was Mexican American, there was Hispanic. There was just Mexican for a time. I remember hearing the phrase Chicano.
Q: That feels like Freddie Prinze territory. During the '70s, maybe.
A: But then they said, “The term Chicano is very derogatory.” Latino is the one I have been the most comfortable with. Latinx — which means male, female, transgender, gay — covers everybody, so there’s not one that sounds like it’s more important than the others. I understand it, I think it’s awesome. It’s just that it’s hard to say. It’s one of those things that takes getting used to.