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  WINDY CITY TIMES

NUNN ON ONE Wilson Cruz talks activism, 'Life'
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2013-08-21

This article shared 4839 times since Wed Aug 21, 2013
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Wilson Cruz may always be remembered by playing the gay character Rickie Vasquez on the television show My So-Called Life but it is what he has done afterward that defines him in so many ways.

This baby-faced Puerto Rican came out to his parents at 19 and was thrown out of the house, much like his character on that memorable show.

This didn't stop him from making his own life and appearing in many movies after Life was cancelled such as Nixon, Party Monster and Johns.

Since then he has been active with GLAAD (Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) for more than 20 years along with serving as a grand marshal in the Chicago Pride Parade in 2005. His involvement in the community led him back recently to the Windy City where he hosted a GLAAD event at the MillerCoors Headquarters. Nunn chatted with Cruz a bit before the presentation.

Windy City Times: Hi, Wilson. How long have you been working with GLAAD?

Wilson Cruz: I have been affiliated with GLAAD for twenty years. I sat on the board at one point. I received the GLAAD Media Award for My So-Called Life back in 1995. I hosted the GLAAD Media Awards in 2005 with Candis Cayne. I won the Visibilidad Award in South Florida, which goes to a member in the media community in the Spanish language world.

I have a long history but started on staff in September of last year. So I am the the national spokesperson and I work on the development staff. I work on fundraising around the country, mainly on the West Coast.

WCT: Well, we are glad to have you in Chicago.

Wilson Cruz: Oh, I love Chicago. I really do. I was the grand marshal back in 2005. I am going to tell you this, I'm a New Yorker, I live in L.A., but I have to say Chicago is in the top three of the gay Pride experiences I have ever had!

WCT: How did you get on My So-Called Life in the first place?

Wilson Cruz: I was a young actor pounding the pavement like everyone else. I had just finished my first year of college. I was auditioning and doing three episodes of a series called Great Scott!, which starred Tobey Maguire. I got my SAG card and then the following pilot season where they auditioning the actors for the new shows, because I was a SAG member I could go out for series regulars parts. The very first script I received was the script for My So-Called Life. My agent called me and thought I would like it. When I read it I thought, "Clearly someone has been following me around high school for the last four years!"

I auditioned just like everybody else. If you heard Winnie Holzman talk about it she said the minute I walked in the door she gashed because I was exactly who she was picturing in her mind. We had never met.

It was a very a very surreal experience throughout. It will probably be the most satisfying artistic experience I will every have. I will have great creative experiences but that was magic. It was lightning in a bottle.

WCT: So you were college when you filmed it?

Wilson Cruz: I was 19 years old when I filmed the pilot. I am about to be 40 now. I have always played a bit younger than myself.

WCT: When I watched the series I wished I had a show like that to help me in high school. I was a little too old for it.

Wilson Cruz: Me, too. In many ways I was living out what my life was like but also it was a fantasy in a lot of ways of what I wanted. Playing him was both cathartic and dreamlike.

WCT: I heard they knew Claire Danes would go onto bigger things.

Wilson Cruz: She's a genius.

WCT: Have you stayed in touch?

Wilson Cruz: I'm not in her everyday life, obviously. She's a very busy woman and a momma now. When we do see each other it is like yesterday.

WCT: What do you think of Jared Leto and Thirty Seconds to Mars?

Wilson Cruz: Brilliant! We always knew he could sing. Jared is the definition of magnetism.

WCT: Those eyes...

Wilson Cruz: You could start with the eyes and move on from there if you like! [Both laugh.]

WCT: I loved you in Party Monster.

Wilson Cruz: Thank you.

WCT: What is a memory from that?

Wilson Cruz: My first reaction is that was the first time I had left the industry and worked at the Gay and Lesbian Task Force. I was a field organizer and traveling the country working on having sexual orientation in the human-rights organization. It was right after 9/11 and there was very little interesting work coming to me. I was at a point where I thought I was done. I didn't see anything that piqued my interest or made me want to do it anymore. I had just finished my last state working on the human-rights ordinances. Randy and Fenton sent me the script and told me I was their first choice.

Check out Cruz's projects on his Facebook fan page and on Twitter @wcruz73. For more about GLAAD, see www.glaad.org .

Read the entire article at www.WindyCityMediaGroup.com .


This article shared 4839 times since Wed Aug 21, 2013
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