- Bryan Rindfuss
- Clockwise from top: Host Cassandra Lazenby; Alamo City Group Executive Director Jennifer Gonzalez; Producer Luis Muñoz; and Alamo City Group Director of Policy and Resource Michael Shackleford.
Lil’ Texas Livin’ — a 30-minute reality show produced by Bauhaus Media that’s tentatively scheduled to premier next March on KENS — doesn’t pit anyone against each other and no one gets fired.
Instead, it follows the nonprofit Alamo Community Group as the organization helps families purchase their first homes. And here’s the twist: these aren’t just any homes, but, rather small-scale houses. Not to be confused with tiny houses, these homes wouldn’t be near as large as conventional abodes, but, rather, maximize space utility in smaller square footage.
“We can’t keep building those McMansions. We have to have houses that are smaller in scale and in an existing community,” says Jennifer Gonzalez, executive director of Alamo Community Group. “So that got us to this place, where if we build something smaller, we could maybe change the mindset for folks … I thought, well, why can’t we have this fabulous home and garden quality show that talked about living in a smaller footprint.”
The Alamo Community Group has been around for 25 years. Its mission is to “develop, acquire, own and manage affordable housing in a community environment that promotes resident education, self-sufficiency, leadership and volunteerism.”
So Gonzalez got together with the nonprofit’s director of policy and resource, Michael Shackleford, and while brainstorming, the two knew for the show to work, it would need a host who could bring together several elements, which include building style and function, energy efficiency and creating a movement around inner-city living in a smaller footprint.
So they called TV personality and producer Cassandra Lazenby, who produced “Great Day SA” on KENS and then hosted and produced “Daytime at Nine” on FOX San Antonio.
Lazenby said she loved the idea. So she reached out to Luis Muñoz, executive producer at Bauhaus Media. The pair previously worked together on morning shows for KENS and FOX San Antonio.
“We are careful about who we align with,” Muñoz said. “We went through the process of seeing who they [Alamo Community Group] are and we love that we’re going to partner with them. So, in this particular case, we are honored to be associated and are excited.”
The group will start filming in January and is planning four episodes, each featuring a different family going through the process of building a small-scale sustainable house from the foundation up.
“We’ve settled on a name Lil’ Texas Livin’, picked the graphics. We have the sizzle reel. We’ve worked through all of the pieces now,” Gonzalez said. “We now have the final blue prints, the logo, all that kind of stuff.”
At this stage, Gonzalez says Alamo Community Group is working with its realtor to identify lots in San Antonio.
“We’ve got three lots and three plans, so we would like to have those start one right after the other,” Gonzalez said.
Muñoz says they are looking for families who are interested in affordable housing and appearing on the show. Casting takes place during December.
For a media landscape that’s full of toxic reality shows highlighting the worst parts of human nature, Lil’ Texas Livin’ should be a breath of fresh air. But it also promises a refreshing take on the slew of shows about flipping or remodeling houses.
“This is different because we are starting from the beginning, and production-wise, as an endeavor, I’m excited and nervous,” Muñoz said. “I’ve done a ton of things and am trying to bring expertise on the entertainment side … because at the end of the day, it’s not just walls going up, we need to make it viewable.”
This should also appeal to a demographic that is interested in all-things home-design, because, again, the show isn’t just about putting up four walls.
“Brandi Sutherland will be the designer on the show. She’ll be amazing,” Lazenby says.
Lil Texas Livin’ will follow the families as they work out what’s inside the walls of their small-scale house. “If you have a home or don’t, there’s lots of design ideas.”
And as far as any them know, this will be the only reality TV show that follows a nonprofit as it helps people make the jump into home ownership, more specifically, small-scale, sustainable home-ownership.
“I don’t want to do anything that a million people have done or is already out there on TV,” Muñoz says. “I want to do things that are innovative, the first in the market. We want this to go national and create a trend.”
And if it does make it nationwide, that’s just one more positive coming out of San Antonio.
“This just goes to show that Texas has a lot of creative people and content here,” Lazenby said.