My So-Called Life
“I think it's hard being a Latino anything, but I mean that in a good way. I think it's the challenges that makes us who we are. I think there are challenges that are inherent in being a person of color within this industry. There are very few roles that are written specifically for Latinos, unless you are in jail, a drug dealer, a gang member, or hooligan of some sort.” Wilson Cruz
Actor Wilson Cruz first gained fame playing sensitive high school student Rickie Vasquez in the critically acclaimed “My So-Called Life” (ABC, 1994-95), for which he received a Young Artist Award. He picked up a 2000 ALMA Award for his stint as Nanny Victor on the final season of “Party of Five” (1999-2000). The handsome thespian also portrayed Dr. Junito Vargas on “Noah's Arc” (LOGO, 2005-2006), Evan Martinez (voice) on the animated sitcom “Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World” (2007-2009) and Rafael de la Cruz on TNT's “Raising the Bar” (3 episodes, 2008). In addition, he appeared in popular television series like “ER,” “The West Wing,” “Ally McBeal,” “Monk” and “Pushing Daisies.” Cruz's film credits include “Nixon” (1995, with Tom Hanks), “Johns” (1996, with David Arquette), “All Over Me” (1997, with Alison Folland and Tara Subkoff), “Joyride” (1997, with Tobey Maguire), “Party Monster” (2003, with Macaulay Culkin) and “He's Just Not That Into You” (2009, with Ben Affleck). On stage, he is perhaps best known for portraying Angel in the Broadway musical “Rent” (1998).
Cruz is an advocate for gay teens and has mentored gay youth, especially those of color. He was the 2005 Grand Marshall of the Chicago Pride Parade and the 1998 West Hollywood Gay Pride parade. In 2008, he spoke at the University of Illinois at Chicago's Lavender Graduation and Rainbow Banquet.
Childhood and Family:
The eldest of three brothers, Wilson Cruz was born Wilson Echevarría on December 27, 1973, in Brooklyn, New York. He was encouraged to pursue theater and by age 7, the talented youth had appeared in several plays, including “Supporting Cast,” “Cradle of Fire,” “The Roar of the Greasepaint” and “Becoming Memories.” He also performed with Young Americans across the U.S. When he was 10 years old, his family moved to San Bernardino, California. He graduated from San Bernardino's Eisenhower High School and attended California State University where he double majored in theater and English. He, however, left college to pursue acting.
Wilson is open about his homosexuality, a fact he disclosed to his family when he was 19 years old. The news upset his mother at first, but angered his father so much that he was kicked out of the house. Wilson and his father have since reconciled.
Currently, Wilson resides in Los Angeles, California. In his free time, he enjoys playing the saxophone. He also plays the clarinet and flute and collects vintage black and white photos of actors.
All Over Me
Wilson Cruz began appearing in professional theater productions when he was 7 years old. His television debut came at age 19 when he landed a minor recurring role on the short lived series “Great Scott” (Fox, 1992). However, he did not experience his first breakthrough until he was cast in the role of Enrique “Rickie” Vasquez on the ABC teen drama “My So-Called Life” (1994-1995), opposite Claire Danes, Bess Armstrong, Jared Leto, Devon Gummersall, A. J. Langer, Devon Odessa, Lisa Wilhoit and Tom Irwin. Created by Winnie Holzman, the show received critical praise but was canceled after one season because of poor ratings. For his good acting, Cruz was handed a 1995 Young Artist in the category of Best Performance by a Youth Ensemble in a Television Series.
Cruz made his feature acting debut in Oliver Stone's “Nixon” (1995), where he appeared as Joaquin. Starring Tom Hanks, the film received positive reviews from critics but was a box office flop. The next year, he starred in “Beat the Bash,” an action film directed by Michael Costanza. He then appeared in the television movie “On Seventh Avenue,” opposite Wendy Makkena, Stephen Collins, Tom Aiken, Damian Chapa and Lara Harris, portrayed Bobby in “Double Double Date,” an episode of The WB's teen sitcom “Sister, Sister,” and co-starred with David Arquette, Lukas Haas, Tony Epper, John C. McGinley and Keith David in Scott Silver's drama “Johns.”
In 1997, Cruz was cast as Jesse in the dramatic feature “All Over Me,” which starred Alison Folland and Tara Subkoff. The film, directed by Alex Sichel, generally earned positive reviews and won the Teddy Award for Best Feature Film at the 1997 Berlin International Film Festival. It was also nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival, the Open Palm Award at the 1997 Gotham Awards and the Outstanding Film (Limited Release) Award at the 1998 GLAAD Media Awards. He next portrayed James in Quinton Peeples' “Joyride” (1997), opposite Tobey Maguire and Amy Hathaway, and appeared in an episode of “Ally McBeal” titled “Boy to the World” (1997). It was also in 1997 that Cruz landed the role of drag queen Angel in a Los Angeles production of the stage musical “Rent.” He went on to reprise the role in a Broadway production in 1998.
Cruz returned to series television when he joined the cast of Fox's critically acclaimed teen drama “Party of Five” in its final season. He played Victor, Owen Salinger's new nanny, in 11 episodes between 1999 and 2000. For his performance, the actor was handed a 2000 ALMA in the category of Emerging Actor in a Drama Series. Cruz then teamed up with James Spader, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, Lou Diamond Phillips, Peter Facinelli and Robin Tunney for the science fiction movie “Supernova” (2000), which was directed by Walter Hill under the alias Thomas Lee. The film was largely panned by critics.
Cruz next portrayed Jeffrey Cruz in an episode of the NBC hit drama “ER” called “Orion in the Sky” (2002), landed a two episode role on the Aaron Sorkin political drama “The West Wing” (2004), which starred Rob Lowe, Alan Alda, Stockard Channing, Moira Kelly and Kristin Chenoweth, and was featured in an episode of the Kyra Sedgwick series “The Closer” called “Better Up” (2005). He also guest starred in “Monk,” “Related” and “American Dad” (2006). Cruz also received the role of Dr. Junito Vargas on the series “Noah's Arc,” which appeared on the American television cable channel LOGO from October 19, 2005, to October 4, 2006. The show also starred Darryl Stephens, Rodney Chester, Christian Vincent, Doug Spearman and Jensen Atwood. On being approached to play an HIV positive character on the show, he stated, “I didn't even hesitate. I was really excited and proud to be able to play that role and I got to be cute. I got to be the one to kiss the boy and kissing Christian Vincent is not a bad gig.”
Meanwhile, on the big screen, Cruz offered a notable performance as Angel Melendez in the biographical film “Party Monster” (2003), which starred Macaulay Culkin, appeared in the comedy “Bam Bam and Celeste” (2005), alongside Margaret Cho, Alan Cumming, Jane Lynch and John Cho, and co-starred with Jonathan Bray, Jonathan Silverman and Sally Kirkland in the comedy “Coffee Date” (2006), for director/writer Stewart Wade. He revisited the stage in a 2003 production of “A Perfect Wedding,” in which he played Julian, and a Californian production of Jonathan Larson's “Tick, Tick... BOOM” (2005), staged by Scott Schwartz. In the latter play, Cruz starred as Michael, opposite Andrew Samonsky as Jon and Natascia Diaz as Susan.
In April 2007, Cruz appeared as Todd Ryder in “Cover Story,” an episode of “Navy NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service.” Three months later, he landed the main character of Evan Martinez on the Canadian/American stop motion animated sitcom “Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World.” The show ran from July 10, 2007, to January 27, 2009.
In 2008, Cruz portrayed Kyle in the direct to video drama “Green Flash,” appeared in the drama “The Ode” (2008), which was directed by Nilanjan Neil Lahiri and scripted by Ghalib Shiraz Dhalla, and played Rafael de la Cruz in three episodes of the TNT drama “Raising the Bar” (2008), created by Steven Bochco. He also costarred with Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Connelly, Justin Long, Ben Affleck, Drew Barrymore, Kevin Connolly, Bradley Cooper, Scarlett Johansson and Kris Kristofferson in the romantic comedy “He's Just Not That Into You” (2009), which was adapted from the book of the same name by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. Helmed by Ken Kwapis, the film was a success at the box office. “He's Just Not That Into You” was nominated for a 2010 People's Choice for Favorite Comedy Movie. The same year, he also costarred with Karin Anna Cheung, Archie Kao, Lynn Chen, James Shigeta and Chris Zylka in the Canadian comedy “People I've Slept With,” for director Quentin Lee, and guest starred in the ABC Emmy Award winning “Pushing Daisies,” created by Bryan Fuller.
Cruz will play Joaquin in “Convincing Clooney,” a comedy film directed by Alexander Cartio and written by Sulo Williams. Sulo Williams, Aimee Garcia, Kelly Perine and Hadley Fraser will also appear in the film. In addition, he will costar with Michelle Bonilla and Lauren Birriel in “Slip Away,” a short directed by T.M. Scorzafava, and star with Malerie Grady and Nadine Ellis in the movie “Does Your Mama Know.” He is also set to portray Julian in the Jane Clark upcoming drama “Meth Head,” which is scheduled to be released in 2011.
GLAAD Media: Visibilidad Award, 2008
ALMA: Emerging Actor in a Drama Series, “Party of Five,” 2000
Young Artist: Best Performance by a Youth Ensemble in a Television Series, “My So-Called Life,” 1995