Wilson Cruz

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Wilson Cruz
Wilson Cruz by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Cruz in 2018
Born
Wilson Echevarría

(1973-12-27) December 27, 1973 (age 47)
Brooklyn, New York, US
OccupationActor, producer, activist, singer
Years active1994–present

Wilson Cruz (born Wilson Echevarría; December 27, 1973) is an American actor known for playing Rickie Vasquez on My So-Called Life, Angel in the Broadway tour production of Rent[1] and the recurring characters Junito on Noah's Arc and Dr. Hugh Culber on Star Trek: Discovery.[2] As an openly gay man of Afro-Puerto Rican ancestry, he has served as an advocate for gay youth, especially gay youth of color.[3][4][5]

Early life[edit]

Cruz was born in Brooklyn, New York, to parents born in Puerto Rico. His family eventually moved to Rialto, California, where he attended Eisenhower High School, graduating in 1991. At age 19, Cruz came out to his parents as gay, 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 Cruz spent the next few months living in his car and at the homes of friends. He later reconciled with his father.[6]

Career[edit]

Cruz went to Hollywood to seek work as an actor, intending to be open about his sexuality from the beginning of his career. In 1994 he was cast as Enrique "Rickie" Vasquez, a troubled, gay teen, in the short-lived, critically acclaimed cult classic TV series My So-Called Life. This made Cruz the first openly gay actor to play an openly gay character in a leading role in an American television series.[7]

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 day-to-day struggles of male prostitutes. In 2000, he played Victor in the final season of Party of Five. He also had a recurring role as Rafael de la Cruz on the series, Raising the Bar.

Cruz's other acting credits include the films Joyride (1996), All Over Me (1997), Supernova (2000), Party Monster (2003), Margaret Cho's Bam Bam and Celeste (2005), Coffee Date (2007), and He's Just Not That Into You (2009); the television film The Perfect Pitch (2002); and guest appearances on the series Great Scott!, Sister, Sister, ER, Ally McBeal, The West Wing, Noah's Arc, and Grey's Anatomy. Cruz starred as Adrian in the film The Ode (2007), based on the novel Ode to Lata by Ghalib Shiraz Dhalla.

He also appeared/starred in the 2009 movie The People I've Slept With. He plays the openly gay best friend of a promiscuous woman who tries to find out who got her pregnant so that she can get married.

Since 2020, Cruz has been a recurring guest on 25 Words or Less.[8]

Involvement in the LGBT community[edit]

Cruz at Outfest 2010

Cruz works with and advocates on behalf of LGBT youth, especially youth of color. He has volunteered his time as host for the Youth Zone, an online community at Gay.com for LGBT youth. He was the Grand Marshal of the 1998 West Hollywood Gay Pride parade, the 2005 Chicago Pride Parade and the 2019 Fierté Montréal Pride Parade in Québec.[9] In 2008, he was the keynote speaker at the University of Illinois at Chicago's Lavender Graduation and Rainbow Banquet honoring graduating LGBT students.[citation needed]

Cruz joined the board of directors of GLAAD in 1997 in order to assist the organization through a leadership transition, and joined the staff of GLAAD in 2012 as a National Spokesperson and Strategic Giving Officer.[10]

In 2020, Wilson was honored on one of the covers of Out magazine's annual Out100 issue, saying Wilson "beautifully weaves his activism inside every aspect of his work".[11]

Filmography and stage[edit]

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1994–1995 My So-Called Life Enrique "Rickie" Vasquez 19 episodes
1996 On Seventh Avenue Reuben Diaz
1996 Sister, Sister Bobby 1 episode (Season 3, Episode 13: "Double Double Date")
1997 Ally McBeal Steven/Stephanie 1 episode
1999–2000 Party of Five Victor 11 episodes
2002 ER Jeffrey Cruz 1 episode
2004 The West Wing Jack Sosa 2 episodes
2005 The Closer Man in Bar 1 episode
2005–2006 Noah's Arc Junito 7 episodes
2006 Monk Smoking Technician 1 episode
2007 NCIS Todd Ryder 1 episode
2007 Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World Evan 2 seasons
2008–2009 Raising the Bar Rafael de la Cruz 3 episodes
2009 Pushing Daisies Sid Tango 1 episode, June 13, (US)
2010 Grey's Anatomy Kyle 1 episode, December 2, (US)
2011 Single Ladies Vincent 2 episodes, July 18, (US)
2012 The Finder Jonni 2 episodes
2014–2015 Red Band Society Kenji Gomez-Rejon recurring
2016 Shameless Bartender 1 episode
2016 Mistresses Dante 2 episodes
2016 Heartbeat 2 episodes
2017 EastSiders Jerry 1 episode
2017–2019 13 Reasons Why Dennis 19 episodes
2017–present Star Trek: Discovery Hugh Culber Main cast
2019 The Bravest Knight Prince Andrew[12]
2019 Trapped: The Alex Cooper Story Paul C. Burke TV film
2019–present The Casagrandes Romeo 2 episodes
2020-present 25 Words or Less recurring guest

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1995 Nixon Joaquin (Hoover's servant)
1996 Beat the Bash Kevin
1996 johns Mikey
1996 Joyride James
1997 All Over Me Jesse
2000 Supernova Benj Sotomejor
2003 Party Monster Angel
2005 Bam Bam and Celeste Tony
2006 Coffee Date Kelly
2008 The Ode Adrian
2009 He's Just Not That Into You Nathan
2009 Green Flash Kyle
2009 The People I've Slept With Gabriel
2011 Convincing Clooney Joaquin
2012 The Skinny The Doctor
2017 After Louie Mateo

Stage[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1998 Rent Angel
2003 A Perfect Wedding Julian
2005 Tick, Tick... BOOM! Michael

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "ABC Leads Nominees for GLAAD Awards". Fox News. Associated Press. May 21, 2008. Retrieved February 8, 2011.
  2. ^ "The New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  3. ^ "Talkin' Broadway". Talkinbroadway.com. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  4. ^ "Atlanta Boy". Atlantaboy.com. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  5. ^ "Oasis Magazine". Oasis Magazine. Archived from the original on April 15, 2012. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  6. ^ "My So-Called Life's Wilson Cruz on Rickie Fans, LBGT Awareness, and '90s Fashion". Vulture. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
  7. ^ "Playing Gay: How America Came Out On Television by Playing Gay — Kickstarter". Kickstarter.com. August 1, 2015. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
  8. ^ "Wilson Cruz". rottentomatoes.com. Fandango. Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  9. ^ "Montreal's 36th Pride parade commemorates history of LGBTQ activism". Montreal Gazette. August 18, 2019.
  10. ^ Davis, Brendan (September 4, 2012). Actor and Activist Wilson Cruz Joins GLAAD Staff. GLAAD, September 4, 2012. Retrieved from http://www.glaad.org/blog/actor-and-activist-wilson-cruz-joins-glaad-staff.
  11. ^ "Wilson Cruz is Going Where No Gay Man Has Gone Before". www.out.com. November 18, 2020. Retrieved November 18, 2020.
  12. ^ Ramos, Dino-Ray (June 24, 2019). "Wilson Cruz On 'The Bravest Knight', 'Star Trek: Discovery' And LGBTQ Legacy Of 'My So-Called Life's Ricky Vasquez". Yahoo! News. Deadline. Archived from the original on December 18, 2020. Retrieved December 18, 2020.

External links[edit]