Q&A: Cesar Millan
Cesar Millan has spent more than 25 years working as an animal behaviorist, training dogs for celebrity clientele such as Jerry Seinfeld and Oprah Winfrey and sharing his methods and ideology with the world through the Emmy-nominated TV show The Dog Whisperer. Now it’s time for him to tell his own story, and he’s chosen the Vegas stage to do so. My Story: Unleashed is created and produced by Millan and SPI Entertainment, which also created the Vegas and Broadway show Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, and Millan’s show will similarly play at the David Copperfield Theater at MGM Grand, Sept. 12-18. “This has always been a bucket list thing for me to do,” says Millan. “If you do Vegas, you are now an entertainer.”
You’ve done so many TV shows and live speaking engagements. How different will this new Las Vegas show be from those experiences?
I do tour internationally more than anything else, so I’ve come to Vegas for business, and I’ve done a lot of TV shows here because it’s so iconic. It’s going from being a dog guy to a teacher to a healer to an entertainer. It’s about all those little moments that are critical to who I am today.
Did you see Mike Tyson’s show? Did you get a chance to speak to him about it?
That’s how I got inspired. I thought if Mike Tyson can do it, I can do it. We come from similar backgrounds, poor backgrounds with a lot of challenges. I did (talk to him), but I’ve done this kind of thing more than he had. But I always bring dogs. This time it’s just me performing, really embracing the art of entertainment and finding humor in life and hoping people will take moments of inspiration.
How much audience interaction will be included?
This is Vegas. There’s going to be that element of surprise and just being in the moment. Every night should be different for the audience as it should be for the person onstage, otherwise you’ll lose the joy. But you never know. Drinks make you talk. (Laughs.) Most of the time people come to me, they are sober, because they want to learn. I think it’s going to be like a dog party. Everybody has the chance to bark.
You came to the U.S. from Mexico because you wanted to be a dog trainer. How different is the culture of animals between the two countries?
I grew up watching Lassie and Rin Tin Tin, so I thought all dogs in America were just like that. I was naïve. I thought I’d grow up, go to America and learn from the best and then come back home and open my own dog training facility. Nobody knew anything about that in Mexico because there, the empathy and compassion for animals was completely different. It’s changing. But immigrants bring a different way of looking at the world. I’d never seen a dog having a birthday party in my entire life. I never saw dogs having toys for Christmas. You love your dogs very much, but I found if you want to love a dog the way he wants to be loved, this is the formula, and that’s the way I went from being the Mexican guy who can walk a pack of dogs to being called The Dog Whisperer.
Have you thought about the ways you can expand this Vegas show to other places in other ways?
It’s like tasting a good piece of sashimi or a good taco. I think as soon as I taste that stage and see the response, I’ll tell you what’s going to be the next thing. As a person who loves creativity, I see so many things. It took a long time for me to be where I am, from crossing the border with 100 dollars in my pocket and not speaking English. I’m enjoying the moment.