Mario Lopez: A Dad With Something Extra

By Annette Covarrubias

Parenting - Mario Lopez and family

Mario Lopez finds time to enjoy life at home with wife Courtney Mazza, daughter Gia and son Dominic. PHOTO BY ZEKE RUELAS

Mario Lopez is host of the Emmy award-winning entertainment news show “Extra,” and has his own radio show, but he’s also an L.A. dad who fits in plenty of family time. Parenting his daughter, Gia, 4, and son, Dominic, 1, isn’t always easy in a profession and a city known for its hustle and bustle, but with the support of his wife, Courtney Mazza, they make it work.

A typical day for Lopez is action-packed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. “I get up and I do my radio show ‘On with Mario,’ then I go right into my TV show, ‘Extra,’” says Lopez. He interviews three to four celebrities a day, shoots the show and squeezes meetings in between. “As soon as I am done with ‘Extra,’ I am usually working on different types of projects,” Lopez says.

Working long hours comes with the territory, but he makes time for what matters the most: family. “It keeps me very busy and spread thin, but you do what you got to do to take care of your family,” he says. “It’s tough, but I just do it.” Mazza often visits him at work with the kids, so they always find a way to squeeze in quality time.

Lopez takes pride in being a father and says the best feeling is seeing his kids every morning and night. No matter how long or stressful the day has been, when he comes home, seeing them running toward him, yelling, “Daddy!” makes it all better.

When Lopez can finally take a break, he likes to have fun. The family goes to Sunday mass every week and Mariachi Brunch afterwards. “It’s a tradition that I want to make sure we always continue to do,” says Lopez. “We love to eat, so going out to eat with the family is always an adventure.” He also enjoys visits to the park, hiking, and trips to the beach with his family. Other favorite spots where the family likes to hang out include The Grove, The Americana and Universal Studios Hollywood, where “Extra” is taped.

Besides dining out, the Lopez family loves to cook at home. “[The recipes] we try to incorporate into the family meals are the ones in my two books, Extra Lean and Extra Lean Family. They are delicious, cost-effective meals for families,” says Lopez, who looks forward to cooking with his wife on weekends.

Celebrating diversity and community is important to the family. Lopez is Mexican and his wife is Italian, and Lopez says both cultures are important. He speaks Spanish to his kids and has enrolled them in Spanish classes.

Leading by example, Lopez also believes it’s important to give back to the community. “I am involved a lot with both Ronald McDonald [House] and the Boys and Girls Club because I was [a Boys and Girls Club] alumni,” he says. “I went there for years and I think there is a responsibility that you should embrace so you can inspire other young kids.” His love for helping others is one of the reasons he’s taking part in L.A. Parent’s 35th Birthday Bash Aug. 2 at The Original Farmers Market. Lopez will present the families of the Los Angeles Ronald McDonald House with toys and books donated at the event.

Life can get hectic juggling work, raising a family and everything in between, but at the end of the day, Lopez just wants to do his best and teach his kids what matters the most. “I just want to raise my kids to be smart, respectful, polite and considerate, and to always remember to work hard, stay focused and to always do the right thing,” he says. “I don’t think you can go wrong with that!”

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