Wilson Cruz (born December 27, 1973 in Brooklyn, New York) is an openly gay, Latino actor. Cruz has in both his acting roles and community work served as a model and mentor to gay youth, especially gay youth of color.
Best known for his role as Enrique "Rickie" Vasquez, the troubled gay teen on the short-lived but popular television series My So-Called Life, Wilson knows first-hand the many struggles and hardships that face young gay, lesbian, and bisexual, (GLBT) people as they struggle to come to terms with their sexuality and the reactions of their families, friends, and society at large.
At 19, Cruz came out to his parents, first to his mother and then his father. While his mother was initially hurt and shocked, she eventually accepted the news. His father, however, threw him out of the house, and he spent the next few months living in his car and at the homes of friends. Cruz eventually reconciled with his father.
After coming out to his parents, Cruz went to Hollywood to seek work as an openly gay young actor. While many gay and lesbian performers had come out later in their careers, he wanted to see if he could be out from the beginning and still make it as an actor. His strategy paid off in 1994, when he was cast in My So-Called Life. In one episode drawn from his own life, "Rickie" came out to his parents and was violently thrown out of the house.
Following My So-Called Life's cancellation, Cruz went on to play J. Edgar Hoover's servant Joaquin in Oliver Stone's film Nixon and had a small role in the television movie On Seventh Avenue. In 1996, he appeared with David Arquette as Mikey in johns, about the daily (or nightly) struggles of male prostitutes. In 1998, he portrayed Angel in the Broadway production of RENT, and in 2000 played Victor during the final season of Party of Five.
Cruz's other acting credits include the films Joyride (1996), All Over Me (1997), Supernova (2000), and Party Monster (2003); the television film The Perfect Pitch (2002); and guest appearances on the series Great Scott!, Sister, Sister, ER, Ally McBeal, The West Wing and Noah's Arc. Most recently, Cruz starred as Adrian in the film Ode (2007) based on the novel "Ode to Lata" by Ghalib Shiraz Dhalla.
Involvement in GLBT community
While playing numerous roles on television, film, and the stage, Cruz devotes more and more of his time to GLBT youth. He is especially concerned with GLBT youth of color. Most recently he has volunteered his time as host for the Youth Zone, an online community at Gay.com for GLBT youth.
Cruz was the 2005 Grand Marshall of the Chicago Pride Parade and the 1998 West Hollywood Gay Pride parade.
In 2008, Cruz was the keynote speaker at the University of Illinois at Chicago's Lavender Graduation and Rainbow Banquet honoring graduating LGBT students. His speech challenged students to enjoy their accomplishments but to use their gifts to make a difference in the world.
Filmography and stage
- My So-Called Life (1994-1995), Enrique 'Rickie' Vasquez - 19 episodes
- On Seventh Avenue (1996), Reuben Diaz
- Sister, Sister (1996), Bobby - 1 episode
- Ally McBeal (1997), Steven/Stephanie - 1 episode
- Party of Five (1999-2000), Victor - 11 episodes
- ER (2002), Jeffrey Cruz - 1 episode
- The West Wing (2004), as Jack Sosa - 2 episodes
- The Closer (2005), Man in Bar - 1 episode
- Noah's Arc (2005-2006), Junito - 7 episodes
- Monk (2006), Smoking Technician - 1 episode
- Navy NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service (2007), Todd Ryder - 1 episode
- Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World (2007 - ), Evan - 2 seasons
- "Raising the Bar" (2008 - ), Rafael de la Cruz - 2 episodes
- Nixon (1995), Joaquin (Hoover's servant)
- Beat the Bash (1996), Kevin
- johns (1996), Mikey
- Joyride (1996), James
- All Over Me (1997), Jesse
- Supernova (2000), Benj Sotomejor
- Party Monster (2003), Angel
- Bam Bam and Celeste (2005), Tony
- Coffee Date (2006), Kelly
- Ode (2007), Adrian
- "He's Just Not that into You" (2008) Nathan
- Green Flash (2008), Kyle
- RENT (1998), Angel
- "A Perfect Wedding" )2003), Julian
- Tick, Tick... BOOM! (2005), Michael
- Template:Ibdb name
- Wilson Cruz at the Internet Movie Database
- Wilson Cruz interview at Talkin' Broadway
- Wilson Cruz interview at Atlantaboy.com
- Wilson Cruz interview at Oasis Magazine
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