Wilson Cruz (born Wilson Echevarría; December 27, 1973) is an American 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 as he is gay himself. He is best known for playing a character in My So-Called Life and a recurring character in Noah's Arc.
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 as Enrique "Rickie" Vasquez, a troubled gay teen, in the short-lived cult classic TV series My So-Called Life. In one episode (entitled "So-Called Angels") drawn from his own life, Rickie came out to his family 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.
While playing numerous roles on television, film, and the stage, Cruz devotes more and more of his time to LGBT youth. He is especially concerned with LGBT youth of color. Most recently he has volunteered his time as host for the Youth Zone, an online community at Gay.com for LGBT 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.
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